New Delhi: The Finance Minister today earmarked Rs 200 crore to cultivate sporting talent in Jammu & Kashmir and said the Government would patronise the “unique sporting traditions” prevalent in the hill states.
“Jammu & Kashmir has a lot of sporting talent which is not finding expression due to inadequate sports facilities.” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said laying the budget in the Parliament, and added the sum will be used for upgrading the indoor and outdoor sports stadiums to international standards in Jammu and in Kashmir Valley.
In a curious announcement, the Minister also said his Government will start an annual event to promote the unique sports in Himalayan states and the neighboring countries of Nepal and Bhutan.
“Unique sports traditions have developed in the Himalayan region in the countries and the states that are a part of it,” Jaitley said.
“To promote these, India will start an annual event to promote these games and would invite countries such as Nepal and Bhutan also to participate, in addition to the Indian states such as J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and the North Eastern States,” the Minister elaborated, falling short of specifying the allocation and naming the games.
There was no reaction so far from Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the announcement, who, like Jaitley, is a ardent outdoor sports fan. Abdullah is known for his love of river-rafting, tennis, skiing, scuba diving, and motor cross driving. Though his excursions on his cruiser in the Valley mountains in the past have met with disapproval of the people and many in his ruling class, too, questioned if motorbiking and Chief Ministership of a State could go hand in hand.
Bringing youth and sports in the hills states under sharp focus, the Finance Minister in his Budget speech also proposed to set up a sports university in Manipur.
“For this I am providing a sum of Rs 100 crore in the current financial year. I also propose to set aside a sum of Rs 100 crore for the training of our sports women and men for the forthcoming Asian and Commonwealth games,” he told Lok Sabha, adding the sports were an integral part of growing up and personality development.
“Unfortunately, in our country, sports have not been mainstreamed to date. Government will set up national level sports academies for major games in different parts of the country to mainstream sports,” he told an unusually quiet and attentive House, packed to strength.
Jaitley further said academies “with international level facilities” for training of accomplished athletes and for nurturing best talent in the country at junior and sub-junior level will also be set up for shooting, archery, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting and various track and field events.