Delhi is game for Sports University

Though the main aim of the university, it is claimed, would be to groom the students in various sports, Rajiv Dubey tries to find out politics behind it

The Delhi Government will open a “Sports University” in the Capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently said. A Bill in this regard, he confirmed, was approved by the Cabinet on October 3 and it would be sent to Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal for approval. After that, the Bill would be tabled in the Assembly, he said. The Chief Minister said the “Sports University” would come up on a 90-acre land in the Mundka area.

According to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the Capital, the Delhi Sports University (DSU) Bill grants the university the right to establish constituent schools and colleges. The main aim of the university would be to groom the students who would excel in various sports in school, the government reportedly said.

The CM had said earlier that a sportsperson used to be uncertain about his futures just for the fact that if he was not able to establish a career in sports, he would just be called a school pass out. “A sportsperson would not get a job because every job requires at least a graduation degree to get through. The sports university will grant you a degree in sports such as cricket and hockey. “A passionate sportsperson can now devote all of his time to playing and excelling in sports,” he said.

A sportsperson’s graduation, post-graduation and doctorate degrees will be in the subjects of sports, Kejriwal said, adding that he could show his degrees wherever required. Giving an example, Kejriwal said a sportsperson could also appear in the civil services examination because he would be considered a graduate after getting the degree.

The Delhi Congress, meanwhile, has hit out at the Kejriwal’s announcement as “yet another of his series of lies to fool the people with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections”. The party accused Kejriwal of playing vote bank politics by making announcements that “he has no intention to fulfil”.

“For the sports university, the Congress government under Sheila Dikshit had purchased 90 acres of land at Ghewra village for ₹11.70 crore in 2003. A Cabinet note to set up the university was also passed. The Kejriwal-led government has passed another Cabinet note meaning that it does not know about past proceedings,” said Congress leader Arvinder Singh.

The Delhi’s initiative comes months after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had given clearance in June this year for the operationalisation of a new sports university in Patiala from September 1 and directed the Department of Higher Education to finalise the admission regulations for the first batch.

Chairing a meeting of the steering committee for the establishment of the university, the Chief Minister had also approved The Punjab Sports University as the name of the proposed institution, for which a draft memorandum will be presented in the next cabinet meeting.

The Punjab Chief Minister had directed Deputy Commissioner of Patiala Kumar Amit to initiate the process of acquisition of 97 acres adjacent to the Rajiv Gandhi National Law University in Sidhowal village, for the construction of the university building. While 97 per cent of the land is being provided free of cost by the village panchayat, the remaining will be acquired. Acceding to a proposal from the Deputy Commissioner, the Chief Minister had also given in-principle approval to reserve some Group C and D jobs for the eligible local people whose land is acquired.

In Haryana, cricket legend Kapil Dev will be the first Chancellor of the Haryana Sports University at Rai in Sonipat district. “Kapil Dev will be the first Chancellor of Haryana Sports University at Rai, Sonipat,” Haryana Sports Minister Anil Vij said in a tweet on October 5. The Sports University of Haryana will be the third sports university established by a state government in the country after Swarnim Gujarat Sports University (Gandhinagar) and Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University (Chennai), media reports said. Vij had earlier announced that the Sports School, Rai (Sonipat), will be upgraded to a Sports University.

Courses will include training for sports management, sports infrastructure engineering, sports psychology, sports nutrition, sports journalism and sports marketing.


Only 5% of Indians are sports literate

Just over five per cent of India’s 1.25 billion population is “sports literate”, says Kanishka Pandey, the researcher who last year filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court seeking to make sports a fundamental right. Pandey is now heading what is claimed to be the first Sports Research Centre, which has been set up by the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) in Ghaziabad.

“Merely 5.56 per cent of the Indian Population is ‘’Sports Literate’’. To put in numbers, merely about 57 lakh people out of 125 crore people are engaged in sports, directly and indirectly,” Pandey asserted.

“Compare this with other countries like the United States, Sports or Physical Literacy is around 20 percent and in China more than one crore people play badminton alone. Countries have copied something which was ours and have excelled whereas we have ignored it and got left behind,” the 27-year-old reportedly said.

Pandey had petitioned the apex court in August 2018 and while admitting his plea, the Supreme Court had sought a response from the union government. At the most recent hearing into the matter, the top court appointed senior counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan as Amicus Curiae to assist in the matter. The case is tentatively listed next for mid-October.

Pandey, a law graduate from Delhi University, had written book titled Sports — A Way Of Life, which was released by national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand in 2017. India’s Olympic performance remains abysmal with the best effort being a six-medal haul claimed in the 2012 London edition. In the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, India managed just a silver and a bronze in the entire Games. However, the country does considerably better at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.