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By, Dhanuraj and Rahul V. Kumar

This study seeks to find an answer to this question: which one can be a successful model in sports in India: Planned Approach or a Spontaneous Order?’ The study explains that planned sporting activities in India have not led to any significant achievements for the country in competitive sporting events. In other words, government spending on sports has failed to generate substantial returns in terms of producing competitive athletes or good sports facilities to promote them.

Executive Summary

Freedom and financial independence from the state are decisive in improving sports in India. The federal government is a facilitator of sports development in the country. However, it has been observed that in recent times cronyism is a constant phenomenon in sports associations/councils. In the most glaring case, India was banned from participating in the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2012.

Individual sporting events in India are handled by (seemingly) autonomous federations which are supported at the state and district level by similar agencies. These federations have voting rights in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). With the presence of a considerable number of politicians (who have no background in sports) as presidents or other representatives of these associations, it is worth speculating that there are gains in holding these posts. Interviews with stakeholders confirm these speculations to an extent. These interviews also reflect the rot that is facing the state controlled sporting sector. This in turn, raises the question as to what role the state should play in developing sports in India.

The year 2008 was a landmark in sports development in India with the introduction of a new model in cricket. Prior to this, and since the World Cup victory in 1983, cricket gained huge popularity compared to other sporting events in India. Hosting the cricket World Cup in 1987 and the financial support received from business houses in India for the event were decisive. The game gained sufficient revenue to make it financially independent from the government.

The new model further accentuated this progress and provided opportunities for several youngsters to take it up as a career. The models success was imitated in other major sports including football, hockey, badminton and the indigenous game of kabaddi. Some of these events are in the nascent stage of development, but the options that it has left open is crucial for creating a future generation of sportspersons from India.

With the spurt of sporting events in the new century, it becomes necessary to understand how a new model came up in cricket which seems to have considerably influenced the sector. It also needs to be understood if this growth could be further encouraged and in what manner.

The voluntary support of private individuals and investments from the business community for developing the sector was a crucial feature of this growth. Such a voluntary association has brought more accountability and transparency to sports in India.
The failure of the state on a lot of fronts is already being remedied by private investors. To further this would be the best option for developing sports. The state can further its mandate to the IOA by ensuring the autonomy of sports in the country and keeping it from undue political interferences. What is required is a spontaneous order in sports facilitated by minimal involvement of the federal government.

Read the full report here: Sports Report