The Green Stuff

commonwealth-games-2010.jpgThe driving factor behind all great things in the modern world is money. Nothing else can explain this fact better than the launch of the BCCI’s IPL and the subsequent Budget release.

The IPL is an event that will go on for a small duration of a part of a year, and just for its first season, the running costs are greater than the total Budget allotment for the entire year by the Government of India. This, in the same Budget, where there has been a waiver of Rs. 60, 000 crore for the farmers. Election propaganda was never this expensive.

Coming back to the sport of it, the statement from our esteemed finance minister is one for the ages. ‘The Commonwealth Games are only 947 days away. As promised, we shall provide Rs.624 crore in 2008-09. I would urge the authorities concerned to adhere to the strict timelines and the quality standards,’ Chidambaram said in his speech in the Parliament. The question here arises, what quality is the Finance Minster talking about? The Finance Minister has earmarked Rs 1,111.81 crore for the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, a hike of Rs 331 crore over the financial year 07-08, a year, where a lot of this allotment will be spent in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

A simple example here proves how immature the outlook of the Government about sports in India is. Our erstwhile national sport, hockey, suffers constantly at the hands of the ‘babus’ at the centre. The number of astro turfs and modern training facilities is appalling, to put it mildly. And still the Government does virtually nothing, and is proud of that very fact.

What the Government seems to have completely overlooked, in its eagerness to please the farmers, is that 2008 is an Olympic year! The shooters have no money to train abroad, or to buy new equipment. Likewise with the other sportspersons who have nowhere to run, pun intended.

What amazes this writer so much is that the entire annual Sports Budget is less than what the BCCI is spending on the first short season of the IPL! Is the development of sport in our country so secondary to the Government that they can’t even spare a little time or money over it? A population of 1.5 billion people surely deserves a little more cash to prove how good they are in the international arena. Watch this space for more updates. Vineet Kanabar

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