From past 5-6 years, Indian athletes have given great performances and great efforts in different sports events including Commonwealth Games and Olympics. India outnumbered its number of medals ever won in London Olympics 2012 and in Rio Olympics put forth some unique performances in gymnastics and wrestling. These efforts and performances have led the sports ministry to pay attention to these athletes shifting its major focus from cricket.
On 15th of September(Friday), Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore announced through his official Twitter handle that the ministry of sports and youth affairs has decided to pay a monthly stipend of Rs 50000 to 152 elite athletes preparing for Commonwealth Games and Tokyo Olympics under Target Olympic Podium(TOP) scheme. The decision was made post the recommendation submitted on August 11 by the Olympic Task Force headed by Beijing gold medalist Abhinav Bindra. The stipend will be paid with effect from September 1 and it is purely for pocket expenses of the athletes, tweeted Rathore.
The TOP scheme was formulated by the ministry of sports and youth affairs in 2015, within the extent of National Sports Development Fund(NSDF). The TOP committee is a 10 member panel headed by Abhinav Bindra. Its other members are Anil Khanna, Prakash Padukone, Karnam Malleshwari, P. T. Usha, Murlidhar Raja, Anjali Bhagwat, Rekha Yadav, Dr. S.S. Roy and Inder Dhamija. The current objective of the committee is to identify potential medal-winning athletes for 2020 Tokyo and 2024 Paris Olympics. Initially, the 10 member panel will have a one-year tenure which may be extended further, informed the sports ministry. Under the scheme, the elite athletes are provided financial support and customized training at institutes which will have world-class facilities and training for improving the performance of the athletes.
The decision is a great boost for the Indian athletes. After the ignorance and lack of facilities faced by them (except cricket players), it is a welcome step which will boost the morale of the players and encourage them.