Lok Sabha passes bill to create national sports university in Manipur

SansadTV Bureau
File photo of Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (PTI)

File photo of Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (PTI)

A bill to establish a National Sports University in Manipur to promote sports education was passed by the Lok Sabha today, as several members sought the inclusion of sports as part of a comprehensive education curriculum.

The National Sports University Bill 2018, which seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated on May 31, was passed by a voice vote.

Replying to the debate on the bill which had started on August 1, Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the university would be set up in Manipur at a cost of Rs 524 crore to promote sports coaching and research.

The legislation was earlier introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017, but could not be passed. Hence, the government had to come out with an ordinance, the Minister said.

A sportsperson will be the university vice chancellor, while its academic council will also comprise sports personalities, Rathore said.

Replying to concerns raised by members during the debate on the bill, he said all medal winners in the country were funded from the National Sports Development Fund in which all citizens can contribute money.

He said the government provided stipends to sportspersons, besides a variety of monthly allowances to them for food and other things. He said the government has also increased the salary of coaches.

The bill seeks to set up a specialised university in Manipur, which would be the first of its kind, to promote sports education in the areas of sports sciences, sports technology, sports management and sports coaching.

Besides, the proposed university would also function as the national training centre for select sports disciplines by adopting best international practices.

Among other things, the legislation proposes to empower the university to establish ‘Outlying Campuses’ throughout the country and also outside India.

“Apart from academic programmes and research, the university and its Outlying Campuses’ will also impart training to elite athletes, sports officials, referees, and umpires and evolve as centres of excellence in the various discipline of sports,” said the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

In order to make the university a world-class institution, the government has signed an agreement with two Australian universities — University of Canberra and Victoria University — for development of curriculum, research facilities and laboratories, among others.

Earlier, N K Premchandran (RSP) asked what was the need for bringing an ordinance for this. He said a university has to be autonomous in character but the provisions of the bill defy this.

As per the provisions of the bill, he said, the central government had the full authority and control over the institution which, therefore, will not be autonomous.

Anurag Singh Thakur (BJP) said this was an extraordinary effort of the government to promote sports in the country.

He said sports tournaments provided a platform to explore young talents and there should be a special fund for MPs to organise such events. He also suggested a comprehensive school education policy with thrust on sports.

Thakur, who has been associated with cricket as an administrator, also suggested using former defence personnel, who had excelled in sports, to train sportpersons.

Thokchom Meinya (Congress) from Manipur welcomed the establishment of the National Sports University in his state and said the new varsity was expected to breach the void in the area.

Jithender Reddy (TRS) said from 1928-1980, India got only eight medals and all were in hockey.

Prasun Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) said that sports education should be made compulsory from school. Banerjee, a former captain of the famous Mohan Bagan football club, also demanded that a sports university be established in West Bengal.

“If necessary, slash funds from election expenses and spend the money on sports as our sportspersons cannot win the World Cup if they don’t get sufficint infrastructure,” he said.

Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (BJD) said the eastern part of India has been neglected by the government.

Demanding a major hike in the sports budget, he said while India’s sports budget was Rs 2,000 crore, UK’s sports budget was Rs 9,000 crore and USA’s stood at Rs 12,000 crore.

He claimed that even the Doordarshan only focused on two or three sports and and “neglected” others, while demanding that advertisement space should be given to all of them.

M B Rajesh (CPI-M) pointed out that China had established sports university in 1993 and currently it has 20 top class sports universities. “So we are 25 years behind China.”

In a lighter vein, Rajesh said Croatia’s population was 40 lakh, “which is equal to the number of people whose name is not in Assam’s NRC.”

“But Croatia has produced legendary football players and we failed to do that,” the CPI(M) member said.

Dhananjay Mahadik (NCP) said that our country should also have infrastructure for car racing. “Corporate Social Resonsibility (CSR) money and Members of Parliament Local Area Develoment Scheme (MPLAD) funds should also be allowed to be used to creating sports infrastucture,” Mahadik said.

Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu (TDP) expressed hope that more sports universities will come up in the country in the near future. He also demanded that the government should formulate New Sports Policy as previous one was formulated in 2001.