Government incentives and sports: India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
State governments and international medal winners
What various Indian states awarded athletes from their states who won gold, silver and bronze medals, in this case, at the Commonwealth Games, 2018 (and at some other international meets)
Government employees who turn professional
The Vijender Singh/ Haryana case, 2015
The issue of participation of sportspersons — who have been given jobs in Haryana government — in professional events had first surfaced in 2015 when Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh had knocked at the doors of the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking permission to turn pro.
Sources in the state sports department confirmed that the new policy asking the employee sportspersons who are in professional games or commercial activities to pay 33% share of their income, was framed by the government after Vijender’s case.
A DSP in Haryana Police, Vijender had approached the HC in August 2015 seeking directions to grant him extraordinary leaves so that he could go to the UK for professional boxing. At that time, Queensberry Promotions Limited, England, had offered him a contract to play as a professional boxer. Vijender had sought permission from the Haryana DGP but no action was taken on his application.
His main plea was that due to the bronze medal won by him in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he was appointed as a DSP, and if he wanted to join the professional boxing, he should be permitted to play. Responding to the plea, the government had permitted him to sign the contract and to participate professionally. The government had clarified that this special dispensation of the service rules may be provided for such sports for a period of five years. After that, a committee chaired by the administrative secretary-in charge of the department would examine whether the said dispensation should be continued or not.
2018: Haryana government employees who turn professional
The Haryana government came in for sharp criticism on Friday after it decided to take away a third of the money earned by state-employed sportspersons from “professional sport or commercial endorsements”.
State sportspersons were also directed to proceed on unpaid leave during the period of their participation in private leagues and endorsements. In case they are “treated on duty with prior approval”, the full income earned by sportspersons from private league or endorements would be deposited with Haryana State Sports Council”, the gazette notification said.
Under fire, Haryana CM M L Khattar tweeted that he had asked for the notification to be put on hold.
Govt defends decision, athletes call it ‘senseless’
Prominent athletes who would have been affected include boxers Vijender Singh and Akhil Kumar, former hockey captain Sardar Singh and wrestlers Geeta and Babita Phogat, all of whom are employed with the Haryana Police.
Caught on the back foot after the controversy erupted, the state government quickly went into damage control mode. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar tweeted in the evening: “I have asked for the relevant file of sports department to be shown to me and the notification dated 30th April to be put on hold till further orders. We are proud of the immense contribution by our sportspersons and I assure them of a just consideration of all issues affecting them.”
The issue started after Ashok Khemka, principal secretary (sports and youth department, Haryana), issued the notification. Khemka, however, made it clear that the money “shall be used for the development of sports in the state”.
The state government had its own justification. Haryana sports minister Anil Vij reasoned, “It’s the government’s old service rule – Rule 56 – as per which if any government employee generates commercial income or professional income, then he shall have to deposit one-third of such earnings. We had allowed (international boxer) Vijender Singh to play professionally. The (Punjab and Haryana) High Court asked us to frame rules in this regard. We have brought out the rules now.”
However, athletes from the state were not impressed. “God save us from such officials who are taking senseless decisions like this. Their contribution to development of sports in Haryana has been zero but I am sure they will play a big role in the decline of sports in the state,” tweeted London Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt.
Gold Coast CWG silver medallist Babita Phogat criticised the government’s decision, saying, “How can the government give such an order? We pay taxes over whatever we earn and now this notification to pay one-third. The government must understand the sacrifice of an athlete and his/her family behind earning a medal for the country,” she said.
However, boxer Vikas Krishan, 2018 CWG gold winner, said, “We pay 33% as tax deducted at source (TDS), one-third will be paid to the government as per the new policy, 10% has to be paid to the managers, 10% will be paid to the coaches and around 10% will amount to the equipment and boarding expenses. I will be left with 3 to 5% of what I earn.”
Leading wrestler Geeta Phogat was equally caustic. “I do not know what the government wants? Earlier, they tried to reduce award money of those who represent other organisations and now they are taking money from the players who are representing the state.”