A Bill to establish a National Sports University in Manipur to support sports education was passed by the Lok Sabha on Friday, as several members sought the addition of sports as part of a comprehensive education curriculum.
The National Sports University Bill 2018, which seeks to return an ordinance promulgated on May 31, was passed by a voice vote.
During the debate on the Bill, which was presented on Wednesday, N.K. Premchandran (RSP) asked what was the necessity for bringing an Ordinance. He said a university has to be independent in character but the provisions of the Bill defy this.
He also noted that the central government had the full power and control over the institution which, therefore, will not be independent.
Responding to the debate, Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the university would be set up in Manipur at a cost of ₹524 crore to promote sports coaching and research.
The legislation was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017, but could not be passed. Hence, the government had to come out with a law, the Minister said.
A sportsperson will be the university vice-chancellor, while its academic council will also include some sportspersons, Mr Rathore said.
The Bill seeks to set up a specific university in Manipur, which would be the first of its kind, to improve education in the areas of sports-sciences, technology, management and coaching.
Besides, the proposed university would also work as the national training centre for select sports disciplines by adopting best international methods.
Among other things, the bill proposes to empower the university to set ‘Outlying Campuses’ throughout the country and also outside India.
“Apart from educational programmes and research, the university and its Outlying Campuses’ will also give training to elite sportsmen, sports officials, and umpires and grow as centres of excellence in the multiple disciplines of sports,” said the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill.
In order to make the university a world-class organisation, the government has signed an agreement with two Australian universities — University of Canberra and Victoria University — for development of curriculum, study facilities and laboratories, among others.
‘All help from sportsperson being given’
Responding to concerns raised by members during the debate, Mr Rathore said all medal winners in the country were financed from the [National Sports Development] Fund in which all citizens can give money.
He said the government provide stipends to sportspersons, besides a kind of monthly allowances to them for food and other expenses. Mr Rathore said the government has also raised the salary of coaches.
Anurag Singh Thakur (BJP) said this was an excellent effort of the government to develop sports in the country.
He said sports tournaments provided a platform to examine young talents and there should be a special fund for MPs to organise such events. He also recommended a comprehensive school education policy with pressure on sports.
Mr Thakur, who has been connected with cricket as an executive also recommended using former defence personnel, who had excelled in sport, to train sportspersons.
More demands to be done for sports
Thokchom Meinya (Congress) from Manipur welcomed the University in his state and said the new varsity was supposed to breach the void in the area.
Jithender Reddy (TRS) said from 1928-1980, India got only eight medals and all were in hockey. He also challenged the funds allocated to the sports federations are not properly utilised.
Prasun Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) said that sports education should be made mandatory from school. Mr Banerjee, a former captain of the famous Mohan Bagan football club, also demanded that also a university is instituted in West Bengal.
“If needed, slash funds from election accounts and spend the money on sports as our sportspersons cannot win the World Cup if they don’t get sufficient infrastructure,” he said.
Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (BJD) said the eastern part of India has been ignored by the government. Demanding a better hike in the sports budget, he stated while India had a budget of Rs 2,000 crore, UK’s budget was Rs 9,000 crore and USA’s at Rs 12,000 crore.
He said that even the Doordarshan only focused on two or three games and “neglected” others while demanding that commercial space should be given to all of them.
M.B. Rajesh (CPI-M) pointed out that China had placed a sports university in 1993 and currently it has 20 top class universities. “So we are 25 years backwards China.”
In a lighter vein, Mr Rajesh said Croatia’s population was 40 lakh, “which is equal to the number of people whose name does not in Assam’s NRC.”
“But Croatia has presented legendary football players and we failed to do that,” the CPI(M) member said.
Dhananjay Mahadik (NCP) said that our country should also have the infrastructure for car racing. “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) money and Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) funds should also be permitted to be used to creating sports infrastructure,” Mahadik said.
Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu (TDP) stated hope that more universities will come up in the country in the near future. He also claimed that the government should formulate New Sports Policy as the previous one was formed in 2001.