New Delhi: In a move to identify and groom young sporting talent, the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved a revamped Khelo India (Play India) scheme under which 1,000 selected athletes will receive an annual scholarship of Rs500,000 each for eight years. The scheme, which would cost the government Rs1,756 crore between 2017-18 and 2019-20, will also promote 20 universities across India as hubs of sporting excellence.
“The revamped Khelo India programme would impact the entire sports ecosystem, including infrastructure, community sports, talent identification, coaching for excellence, competition structure and sports economy," according to an official statement.
Until now, sports schemes were focused on building infrastructure such as stadiums. However, the new scheme will focus on nurturing talent and connecting rural India to global games, sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said. Companies could also fund the Khelo India scheme under corporate social responsibility, Rathore added.
In another decision, the cabinet approved new cost norms for providing supplementary nutrition to children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and adolescent girls in anganwadi or integrated child development scheme (ICDS) centres. Under the new norms, the daily expenditure on child nutrition will increase from Rs6 to Rs8, while for women it will be raised from Rs7 to Rs9.5.
The increase in daily allowance is to account for inflation as rates have not been revised since 2012. An official statement said the revised norms will cost the centre Rs2,267 crore in additional expenses for three years starting 2017-18.
In addition, the cabinet has also approved a productivity-linked bonus equivalent to 78 days’ wages for employees of the Indian Railways for 2016-17, which will benefit 1.23 million workers.
The cabinet also approved a proposal to transfer three India Tourism Development Corp. hotels to the state governments of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Arunachal Pradesh. In another decision, the cabinet approved the merger of 17 government presses into five units which will be modernized by monetizing their surplus land.
The Union cabinet noted the progress of the National Health Mission (NHM), including the accelerated decline in maternal mortality rate (MMR), infant mortality rate (IMR), under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) and total fertility rate (TFR).
It also noted the progress in respect of various disease control programmes such as tuberculosis (TB), malaria, leprosy, etc. The cabinet noted that the rate of decline in under-5 mortality has nearly doubled since NHM was originally launched as National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2005.
Union health minister J.P. Nadda said that halting and reversing of the incidence of malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS had been achieved by the government.
The cabinet was apprised of the increase in the programme management budget ceiling under NHM, including monitoring and evaluation, from the existing 6.5% to 9% of the total annual work plan per year for bigger states and from 11% to 14% for smaller states and Union territories.
The cabinet also approved the introduction of the Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament, subject to modifications. The amendment is aimed at reducing redundant provisions in the Act. The clauses to be amended include those pertaining to the membership of the Dental Council of India.