India: In a move to encourage indigenous sports, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs will facilitate National Tribal Games for Schedule Areas, replicating the model of the Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) games that are organised across the KVs in India.
Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram said, “The ministry will help organise tribal games in all Ekalavya Model Residential School (EMRS) across the country, just like the KVs organise their tournament. Due to their culture and lifestyle, tribals are popular for their physical ability that make them good sportspersons, but due to lack of financial aid, they often are not able to go much far. The ministry intends to encourage young talent.”
The National Tribal Games will be organised in all the major districts where the tribal population is significant. A proposal to start a Tribal Sports Academy has also been tabled and the Academy will aim to provide training for those sports that are popular among the people of that district, be it an indigenous sport or a sport like football, wrestling etc. Other than this, a scheme to honour sportsperson from tribal communities is also on the table. Commenting on the lack of promotion for indigenous sports under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat” scheme, Oram said, “We have taken cognisance of this issue. We have decided to commemorate sportspersons from tribal communities in a special event organised to spread awareness about the contributions of the tribal community to Indian sports. We will launch a scheme under which such sportsperson will be awarded annually.” In the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, three players belong to the tribal district of Khunti, Jharkhand, in the women’s hockey team. The district is popular for its hockey obsession.Responding to an RTI about slashing budget of the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY), Oram said, “Our aim was to have a holistic approach and provide money according to the requirements of the state. We underwent a trial in 10 blocks and allocated Rs 100 crore, but the states did not show much interest in this. The states wanted the funds to be delivered through the integrated sub-plan instead. It would be wrong to conclude that the budget was reduced. We are still providing the money that was supposed to be allocated, thus not cutting down on the budget.
An RTI revealed that the allocation for VKY, a Centre-sponsored tribal welfare scheme launched in 2014, has come down to a mere Rs 1 crore ($154,000) in 2016-17 from Rs 200 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 100 crore in 2014-15. The RTI also indicated that in allocation of the fund, a larger share went to BJP-ruled tribal states than Congress-ruled states.
Addressing this analysis, Oram said, “There are only 10 states that have schedule areas and in a majority of them, the BJP has formed the government. So, to conclude that more money was allocated to BJP states is not justified. The process of allocation is impartial. Almost 90% population in North Eastern states is tribal, but the total tribal population of North Eastern states makes up only 10% of the total tribal population in the country. Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa have huge schedule areas which is why their share of fund is expected to be bigger. Such calculations influence fund allocation; this is not about which state has what government.”
Earlier this week, Oram had announced the Union Cabinet decision to include 227 villages in three districts of Rajasthan as schedule areas.