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Sports and Society Accelerator Bulletin - November 2022

Sports and Society Accelerator Bulletin - November 2022

Learn more about the Indian sporting ecosystem and the developments being made through the Sports and Society Accelerator Bulletins for November 2022.

  1. 75 indigenous sports to be added to roster of school sports

The Government of India recently announced that it would introduce 75 indigenous sports and games in schools under the Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) initiative. The list includes traditional games like posham pa, vish amrit, gilli danda and langdi and was compiled with the help of experts who suggested indigenous games originating from different parts of the country.

Impact: As per Mr. Ganti S Murthy, the national coordinator for IKS - “The idea is not just to simply promote Indian games in schools. The actual idea is to make sports more inclusive at the school level. For instance, the schools in rural areas don’t have infrastructure for popular school games like basketball or badminton.” Incidentally, the 36th National Games in the state of Gujarat recently witnessed the inclusion of indigenous sports like Yoga and Mallakhamb, heralding the increased focus on such sports.

Takeaway: The idea to include traditional games in school education, especially those that are low-resource and context-specific, is laudable, and could further the objective of imparting physical literacy for school children across the country in an inclusive manner. Institutional support through educational institutions also has the potential to unearth talent in competitive sports such as kabaddi and also develop a wider variety of fundamental skills from sports  like ‘langdi’ (hopscotch) which could have outlets in sports such as long jump and triple jump.

  1. Proposed ‘One state one sport policy’ could bring focus to India’s medal quest

In March this year, Union Sports Minister Mr. Anurag Thakur held a meeting with the state ministers and officials on the possibility of adopting a policy of “one state, one sport”. Such a policy would involve each State prioritizing development and progression pathways for a particular discipline based on interest, the existing talent pool, climatic conditions and available infrastructure.

Impact: With sports being a State subject, a coordinated approach across states could help focus resources and expertise around talent hubs and enable a strategic national-level framework that would strengthen India’s Olympic and Paralympics contingents.

Takeaway: The matter had previously come up for discussion in 2020, when the former Sports Minister and current Law Minister Mr. Kiren Rijiju said that ministers and officials had demonstrated interest in adopting one sport which their respective states had traditionally been good at. A 'One Sport, One Corporate' idea has also been proposed  wherein corporates would fund or adopt a particular sporting discipline and focus on it. Coordinated and focused effort by the States and Corporate India have the potential to streamline development efforts, mine existing talent pools, and bring underrepresented sporting disciplines into focus.

  1. The New National Air Sports Policy opens the skies

In June, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation released a new policy on air sports in India. The policy aims to create a structure that would “promote the country’s air sports sector, by way of making it safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable”. Eleven games have been included under the policy including aerobatics, aero modeling and rocketry, ballooning, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, drones, gliding and paragliding, hand gliding and power hand gliding, parachuting, paragliding and paramotoring, powered aircraft and rotor aircraft.

Impact: The vision of the air sports policy is to make India one of the top air sports nations by 2030. As per the policy, all persons and entities providing air sports services are required to register as members of their respective air sports associations. The policy also includes safety mandates and penalties for violating those norms, based on international best practices.

Takeaway: The implementation of a National Air Sports Policy would give a commercial boost to entrepreneurship in the air sports industry in India. Popular air sports destinations such as Bir-Billing, Gangtok, Hadapsar, Vagamon will see more tourist engagement in the coming years, and new prospects for air sports can also emerge. The draft policy also seeks to encourage domestic design, development and manufacturing of air sports equipment, and aims to make the sector more commercially viable by proposing reduction of import duty and taxes.

  1. Playing the Long Game; A framework for promoting physical activity through sports mega-events

A report that was recently launched during the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), by WISH partners and the World Health Organization (WHO), it calls on a wide variety of stakeholders including governments, sports authorities, and the overall sporting community to ‘maximize the investment and excitement generated by sports mega events and leave behind more permanent health benefits for communities.’

Impact: The report contains recommendations for helping to strengthen mega sports event legacies in order for them to contribute more effectively to an increase in physical activity, and improving the health of populations.

Takeaway: As India has currently hosted the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and is looking to host more mega-events, this report on even legacies is highly relevant to the Indian context. As a part of a framework that attempts universal participation in physical activity by 2047 for India, this is a useful report to help understand the multi-level policy and implementation roll outs that can be attained by prioritizing optimal use of large-scale events for the population’s improved levels of physical activity and fitness.

  1. UK implements helpline for athlete disclosures and complaints

In April, the UK announced the launch of ‘Sport Integrity’, which is an independent disclosure and complaints service for Olympic and Paralympic sport.

Impact: The Sport Integrity website states that it is a confidential reporting line and independent investigation service, “available for all athletes and staff on Olympic and Paralympic performance programmes, to report allegations of unacceptable behaviour.” It is accessible to athletes, athlete support personnel and office holders of national governing bodies.

Takeaway: There are several integrity and safety issues affecting sport and Sport Integrity has been set up to focus on the bullying, harassment, discrimination, abuse (verbal and physical) and sexual misconduct. Such a helpline would provide critical and timely help to athletes and other stakeholders who may otherwise not feel protected or have access to the right reporting channels, while facing such issues. These issues are extremely relevant to the Indian context.

  1. What are the implications of physical literacy being recognised as a fundamental right?

In a landmark development, the Supreme Court of India asked the Centre and States to respond to a report recommending sports to be expressly made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The report titled ‘From Stasis to Movement’ was drafted by the Sports Law & Policy Centre, the policy engine of  the SSA, in response to a request received from Mr. Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Senior Advocate and amicus curiae in the matter of Kanishka Pandey vs. Union of India.

Impact: The case has the potential to determine the future of the sporting and fitness movement in India. In a country where access to common sporting facilities is fast shrinking, recognition of physical literacy as an essential part of living can help individuals with their personality development, while also assisting with public health.

Takeaway: The report states that having a fundamental right to physical literacy would mean identifying the intrinsic value of physical activity to human living. It would mean not seeing physical activity as an end in itself, and the establishment of physical activity/ physical education as a core component of the education curriculum. Further, recognition of physical literacy as a fundamental right would mean permanent opportunities to access physical activity universally, and everyone, no matter their age, ability, gender, class, or other needs or interests, be able to demand the right to be physically active and physically literate.

  1. Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities

The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India published a Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities (“Draft Disability Policy”) and invited comments from the general public. The Draft Disability Policy included a section on sports and recreation, to which the SSA submitted detailed comments in relation to the sports and recreation sections.

The SSA’s suggestions were based on its #SportsStack framework and seek to outline a systems approach that encourages inclusive design. For every layer of the Stack, the SSA suggested interventions based on a ‘do-fund-regulate’ model of governance. The interventions set out what public and private sectors can ‘do’, what they can ‘fund’ and how the government can ‘regulate’ to make sure that policy formulations can be brought to life. The submission to the Government on the Draft Disability Policy can be found here.

  1. Program Snapshot

In addition to specific policy and programmatic rollouts, there is also regular activity on-ground by states, individuals, and social enterprises. One of these is Jharkhand’s SAHAY Scheme which in December 2021, was launched by the Jharkhand Chief Minister. The Sports Action toward Harnessing Aspiration of Youth (SAHAY) scheme seeks to motivate the youth of Maoist-hit areas towards a positive life by giving them an identity through sports. Initiatives like the SAHAY scheme are essential as they use sport as a vehicle to address larger issues in our wider society. The target age group of the scheme (14-19 years) is also well thought out considering that several teenagers opt out of playing sport in India.

Equally meaningful is the role that social enterprises play in creating social impact and making sport a community activity. In this regard, the SSA currently has a #MakingSportWork storytelling series in collaboration with The Better India. The repository of the ongoing series can be found here.

The road ahead

India recently witnessed the successful conduct of the 36th National Games in Gujarat and is also set to host major global sporting events such as the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup and the 2023 Men's FIH Hockey World Cup, to name a few. Further, the country has been elected to host the 140th session of the International Olympic Committee in 2023 and will also assume the Presidency of the G20 for one year from December onwards. These upcoming events have the potential to unlock numerous opportunities to widen the scope of sport for social impact and change.

Looking outward, the 2024 Olympics in Paris will become the first major sporting event with climate, environmental responsibility, sustainability and social enterprise designed into its core. Sustainable planning and execution will be a key factor while hosting such events, and India can also work towards taking progressive initiatives in this regard. The National Games offered a glimpse of the future with the inclusion of traditional sports, and with their focus on sustainability and legacy building. For instance, no new sports infrastructure was created specifically for the event, and existing venues of private sector and academic institutions were used to host the Games. What we are also seeing is a re-imagining of what the future of sports looks like, with non-traditional sports like sport-climbing, break-dancing, skateboarding and others making their way into multi-sport events globally. The SSA will provide more detailed examples in future Bulletins.


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Roshan Gopalakrishna & Lokesh Kaza


Thursday, November 17, 2022 - 07:02

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