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A Sports Plan for India: conceived and directed by bureaucrats



A Sports Plan for India: conceived and directed by bureaucrats

By Sanjiv Bhatia

The recent success of Indian athletes at the Asian games must be applauded. Five Hundred and seventy athletes competed in thirty-nine sports to win a total of 69 medals. It is time now to think ahead on how to build on this success and take Indian sports forward.

The NitiAyog has come up with a plan called First Play which lays down a strategy for getting India 50 medals in the 2024 Olympics. For a country that won two medals in 2016, and has a total of 23 medals over the last 70 years, this goal seems to be a real stretch. What makes this goal sheer delusion, however, is NitiAyog’s plan to get there.

Bureaucrats run the NitiAyog. They are bright people and surely mean well for the country. But they are programmed to find solutions that run through the government machinery. More government involvement, more policies, more regulations, and more committees are their solution to all problems. It is baffling that an institute tasked with transforming India would ignore the inexorable truth that market-based solutions that allow individuals to pursue goals based on their own set of skills and incentives are the best way to achieve optimum performance.

Niti’sFirst Play plan includes, among other things, ‘targeting’ ten priority sports based on past success and something they call ‘high winning potential’. It sounds like the License Raj policy that destroyed India’s economic growth for five decades. Allowing bureaucrats and politicians to pick priority sectors did not work for our economy and will certainly not help Indian sports. If anything, it assures political meddling since prioritised sports will get higher public funds. For example, Haryana, which produces a high number of wrestlers, will unquestionably want wrestling to be a priority sport.

Neeraj Chopra, India’s Javelin throw Gold medallist, would never succeed under Niti’s plan because Javelin would have never been a priority sport. It has no track record of success. Neither would Swapna Barman who won the Gold in Heptathlon nor would we have seen the likes of Milkha Singh and PT Usha winning in a sport like 400 meters which in their days would not have been a priority sport. And DipaKarmakar, the Indian gymnast would not have medalled at the 2016 Olympics, because gymnastics has little history in India and would not be prioritized.

It has always been the success of an elite athlete that increases participation in a sport. It was the success of Mark Spitz that provided an impetus for the next generation of U.S. swimmers like Michael Phelps and not some wacky government prioritisation scheme. Likewise, Usain Bolt’s success has ignited more athletic interest in Jamaica than any government scheme. Let natural talent decide which sports India medals in, not some bureaucrat or politician.

A good model for India to follow is the USA, a country which has dominated world athletics with over 2500 Olympic medals over the last hundred years, and where the government has absolutely no involvement in sports. The United States Olympic Committee is a non-profit organisation funded entirely through private sources, but more importantly, also privately managed. Unlike India, the USA does not have a Ministry of Sports. So, one has to ask the question that with no government funding of its Olympic efforts, and no Ministry for sports how has the U.S. performed better than other countries over the last ten decades?

The answer is straightforward. Government bureaucracies and Ministries are not a help but a hindrance for optimum athletic performance. It is the freedom to pursue one’s dreams and the monetary rewards that follow from winning that has led to an explosion of talent in U.S. sports. Let’s mimic this successful model in India. The country unshackled its economy from government controls in the 1990’s and per capita income grew ten-fold over the next two decades. If India does the same for sports, its medal tally could also increase ten-fold. Let private sports companies develop business models to find, train and support the best athletic talent. A market-based process which creates the right incentives for private companies to unearth the best talent, to provide them with the best in facilities and coaching, and to produce world-class athletes, should be the bedrock of India’s sports policy.

To win 50 Olympic medals the country needs to make sports a business. Athletes, from beginners through to high-performance amateurs or professionals, represent the basis of the sports industry. They are the engine of the sports economy. They create demand for coaches and trainers, they are consumers of manufactured sporting goods, and they use the sporting facilities. High-performance athletes attract people to the stadium for amateur or professional sports events, and their performances are broadcast on TV. The economic activity related to the sport and recreational service industries also has a broad impact on the economy. Thousands of jobs tied directly to sporting activity are created by new companies engaged in the discovery, management, training of athletes, and manufacturing of sporting, athletic and recreation equipment.

The world of professional sports operates entirely in the private domain. Whether it is professional basketball in the form of the NBA, or global soccer clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea–every one of them is privately owned or has shares traded on a stock exchange. That is the direction for sports in India. Some of it is already happening and private clubs in Cricket, Soccer, Tennis, Badminton, and even Kabaddi have found a way to monetise themselves using the power of private enterprise and the free market.

Private sports clubs and schools, similar to the ones in Norway and Finland, must be encouraged. Private sports management companies armed with the best functional movement and muscle testing equipment could identify potential athletes from a very early age. One of the world’s largest sports management company, IMG, has designed a systematic approach that tests athletes to assess their performance levels using sport-specific standardised tests. There are even some new, but unproven, genetic tests which can show the disposition of a person towards a particular sport.  All of this science is now coming into the sports business, and private capital would jump at the opportunity to deploy it in a massive market like India.

Eventually what will make India a successful sporting country is not more government involvement but creating the right incentives for the athletes. And these incentives are best created by a free market which is unencumbered by government control.  Corporate sponsorship is a form of survival for most athletes. It covers the cost of living and training for athletes. Private sports management companies could be invited to invest in the development of Indian athletes. These companies are in the business of finding talent, paying for their training, finding the best trainers, coaches and performance psychologists, and eventually benefiting themselves and the athletes they represent by maximising their sponsorship value. Michael Phelps alone has won more medals in the last four Olympics than India has in over seventy years, yet he has never received a penny from the US government; sponsorship pays for his living and training.

In the 2018 budget, the government of India allocated almost Rs 2196 crores for sports. Bureaucrats and politicians still control and run the country’s sports. The NitiAyog’sFirst Play plan is just more of the same thing: more government involvement, more rules, more government agencies, more bureaucracy, and more corruption. India needs to transform the way it thinks about sports. Sports should become an industry with its sports schools, sports clubs, private coaching academies, sports management companies, equipment manufacturers, professional leagues, TV rights, sponsorships etc. The Sports Ministry should be abolished, and all regulatory barriers to entry should be removed to allow private sports management companies to find, adopt, train, support, and convert Indian athletes into world-class medal winners.

The only way to get to 50 medals by 2024 is to get the government out of the business of managing sports. Otherwise, like the bureaucrats at the NitiAyog, we can all keep dreaming.

The author is a financial economist and founder of contractwithindia.com



NZ vs IND ODI: Rain plays the biggest spoilsport for India, Hamilton match abandoned

In the first ODI against New Zealand, Team India looked driven and inspired as the Shikhar Dhawan-led Indian cricket team put up a throbbing target of 306 with the help of skipper Shikhar Dhawan and Shubham Gill’s stellar performance.



The Indian Cricket team who were set to play their second ODI against New Zealand at the Hamilton Stadium in New Zealand were discouraged by the rain yet again as the second match of the ODI was abandoned due to rain. Indian cricket team, who were in hopes to make a comeback into the series after their first ODI loss despite performing well, had gotten the chance to redeem themselves.

Owing to the weather conditions, the match officials decided to reduce the overs to 29-over-per-side and India had gotten the chance to set the tone and bat first, however, the match only could see 12.5 overs of the 29 where Shubham Gill and Suryakumar Yadav were looking high as the duo together were able to stir up a partnership. Shubham Gill was able to bat for 42 runs off of 45 balls whereas Suryakumar Yadav was slowly catching on as he had scored 34 off of 25 balls.

Despite the encouraging spell by the Indian cricket team, Rain played the biggest spoilsport as the match was abandoned due to rain.

The rain not only became spoiled the match for the fans but also washed away the ambitions of young players who had planned to earn their seats in the senior team after the recent T20 World Cup loss against England. The Indian selection committee was recently sacked by BCCI after the questions raised by the type of players Team India selected for the T20 World Cup campaign.

First ODI Match

In the first ODI against New Zealand, Team India looked driven and inspired as the Shikhar Dhawan-led Indian cricket team put up a throbbing target of 306 with the help of skipper Shikhar Dhawan and Shubham Gill’s stellar performance. However, Tom Latham’s stellar performance complimented with Skipper Kane Williamson helped New Zealand chase the big number put on the score board.

New Zealand was able to win the match by scoring 309 runs as Tom Latham and Kane Williamson continued their partnership till victory.

Third ODI Match

India will now face New Zealand in Christchurch for the third match in the bilateral series on November 30. Shikhar Dhawan and Company will be aiming to secure a win against New Zealand in order to draw the series and not loss the series. The match will only be streamed live Amazon Prime Videos.

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IND vs NZ 2nd ODI: Weather update, venue, possible playing XI | Know here

The Indian team has not won any ODI match on Seddon Park in Hamilton ground for the last 13 years.



IND vs NZ 2nd ODI: Weather update, venue, possible playing XI | Know here

The second match of the 3-match ODI series between India and New Zealand will be played in Hamilton on Sunday. It is a do or die match for the Indian team who lost the first match. A loss in this match would mean losing the series.

Seddon Park in Hamilton has never been easy for the team India. The Indian team has not won any ODI match on this venue for the last 13 years. Let us take a look at weather condition, pitch report and possible playing XI of both the teams.

Chances of rain during the match

The match is scheduled to start at 7 am Indian time and 2:30 pm, according to Hamilton time zone.  The weather predictions say that the chances of rainfall in Hamilton on Sunday ranges from 40 per cent ot 68 per cent. There is more than 60 per cent chances of rainfall in afternoon 2 to 3, evening 5 to 6 and from 7 pm to 8 pm. Indicating that the match can get disturbed by rainfall.

Team batting later will have upper hand

The team batting later has more advantage at Seddon Park in Hamilton. So far, thirty-seven One Day Internationals have been played here. Of these, the team batting first in 13 and the team batting later in 22 have  have won. Two matches have remained inconclusive.

The average score in the first innings of an ODI match in Hamilton is 245 runs. The team batting first has scored more than 300 runs at least five times. Meanwhile, a score of 270 to 300 runs has been scored at least eight times. The target of more than 300 runs has been chased twice on this pitch.

In 2007, New Zealand won a match by scoring 350 runs in the second innings against Australia. The Kiwi team won against India in 2020 by scoring 348 runs in the second innings.

Probable playing-11 of both teams

New Zealand: Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh and Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal.

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Cricket news

Rohit Sharma should quit IPL in order to win World Cup, says his childhood coach Dinesh Lad

Keeping the ODI World Cup 2023 in mind, Sharma’s childhood coach Dinesh Lada has advised Rohit not to play IPL.



Rohit Sharma should quit IPL in order to win World Cup, says his childhood coach Dinesh Lad

Team India captain Rohit Sharma, who is currently rested for the India vs New Zealand ODI and T20 series is under lot of scrutiny after the episode loss at the T20 World Cup 2022. Since then his captaincy has also been questioned by many veterans. Amidst all this, another shocking statement has come to the fore on Rohit Sharma.

Keeping the ODI World Cup 2023 in mind, Sharma’s childhood coach Dinesh Lada has advised Rohit not to play IPL. He believes that if the Indian team has to win the ODI World Cup 2023, then Rohit will have to distance himself from the Indian Premiere League and focus on the bilateral and ICC tournament.

For the unversed, Team India was out of the T20 World Cup 2022 after losing the semi-final match against England. Dinesh Lad said that Team India has not been stable in the last 7-8 months. And if they are preparing for the World Cup, then the team has to be united.

Lad further added that in the last seven months, anyone is coming to open, then someone is coming to bowl, hence, the team does not look stable at all. “I don’t think workload management is the reason. Everyone around the world is playing cricket. If this is the case then don’t play in IPL if you want to win the World Cup,” said Dinesh Lad.

Rohit Sharma’s childhood coach believes that if a cricketer plays for India or for the state then only his name is considered for IPL and then their game only helps in the salary cap in IPL.

On the sport front, Rohit Sharma has not had a good run in the T20 World Cup 2022. The Indian skipper scored only 116 runs in 6 innings. He scored only 1 half-century during this period at an average of 19.33. Since then Rohit Sharma’s captaincy is also under question.

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