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The state of play
By offering them financial safety nets, the Haryana government encourages athletes to focus on their sport. Ajay Sura breaks it down for us.
Four years ago, when Vijender Singh won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, the Haryana government managed to corner some of the glory by offering money and jobs to sportspersons. The move helped pull the state's youth into sports and the results are showing now - of the 81-member Indian squad at the Olympics, 18 are from Haryana.
Earlier, at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, Haryana players won 21 gold, six silver and eight bronzes for India. In recent times, the state which contributes less than 2 per cent of the country's population, has managed to grab onethird of the international medals won by Indian sportspersons.
Haryana was perhaps the only state in the country that had announced, much before the start of the games, cash awards for players winning medals at the Olympics. A gold medal will get a player Rs 2. 50 crore, silver, Rs 1. 50 crore and bronze, Rs 1 crore from the state government. Soon after shoorter Gagan Narang, whose ancestors belong to Haryana, won the country's first medal, the state government announced a cash award of Rs 1 crore.
Under a new policy widely publicised as'Padak Lao Pad Pao' (get a medal, get a job), the state promises jobs as Class II gazetted officers to players who win any medal at the Olympics and gold medals at the Asian Games. It has also guaranteed Class II posts for silver and bronze medal winners at Asian Games, gold and silver medal winners at Commonwealth Games and gold medal winners at World Championships organised by sports federations. The state will also reserve seats for admission to professional and technical institutes and universities.
The state government has offered ranks in the state police to 37 outstanding Indian sportspersons - five as DSP, 18 as inspector and 14 as subinspector. Prominent among those who have been appointed as DSP are Vijender Singh (boxing), Vikas Krishan Yadav (boxing), Sardar Singh (hockey) Sanam Krishan Singh (lawn tennis), Krishna Punia (athletics), Ravinder Sangwan (wrestling) and Paramjit Singh (boxing).
The state has set up a Haryana Sports Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 5 crore to provide financial assistance to sportspersons for various purposes such as medical help and training. This fund is also meant for retired players.
A state-wide hunt called Sports and Physical Aptitude Test (SPAT) has been launched in Haryana. The idea is to locate talent at an early age. It is conducted every year and the target is to identify 5, 000 high-potential athletes in the 8-19 years age group for cumulative annual sports scholarship. The amount assigned for this is Rs 10 crore. It a battery of seven tests that reliably measures one's athletic potential in terms of agility, flexibility endurance and strength. Under this programme, promising players are given scholarships and training. So far 25 lakh children have participated in the test.
RIGHT TO PLAY
Haryana recently introduced an Act that makes it compulsory for schoolchildren to engage in optimum physical activity. During school hours, every child has to be guaranteed a minimum time to engage in at least one sport. Access to sports facilities within school will also be the right of every student. To this end, schools have to ensure basic sporting infrastructure, staff and equipment. This Act also extends to residential colonies. The state is also involved in creating organisations that can train any individual interested in sports.
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