Vijay Goel

As a Minister

MoS - Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs

In 2003, when I took the charge of the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry, I encouraged young individuals to pick sports as a career. For the first time, a Prime Minister National Sports Fund was set up to encourage people to take up sports as a career.

I instructed senior officials to redraw a list of priority sports disciplines on the basis of our achievements in international competitions and the popularity of games. Besides, I requested the private sector to come forward with sponsorship deals to ensure a win-win situation for both the sponsors and sportsmen.

Consequently, investments in sports from private firms increased and the sports budget tripled. Synthetic tracks, world-class swimming pools, new hockey surfaces, and multi-discipline halls were a few of the infrastructure facilities created during my time in the ministry.

It feels good to know that I am remembered as the Sports Minister in the NDA government who brought the Commonwealth Games (CWG) to India. In Aug 2003, when a seven-member delegation had arrived in Delhi to evaluate and assess the capability of India to host the Commonwealth Games, I made detailed presentations to project the rising stature of Delhi to host the 19th Commonwealth Games in 2010. Soon India managed to successfully host the 1st Afro-Asian Games in Andhra Pradesh in 2003; this showcased India as a capable host of organizing large international sporting events. All the 54 delegates of commonwealth nations left impressed with the infrastructure, facilities and security arrangements made during the event. Next year we were ready to host the under-17 Cricket Asia Cup with 14 countries participating in it. I ensure ministry conducts as many international sporting even as possible during my tenure.

Another area where I focused was to make people aware of several unknown sportspersons who worked very hard to secure medals for India but somehow remained away from the limelight. A grand exhibition on the history of Indian sports was organized ahead of the Afro-Asian Games, profiling some of the finest sportspersons India ever had. When the Ministry of Sports was included in the Republic Day Parade in 2004 with the theme ‘Go for Gold at Athens 2004’, a large number of well-known sportspersons such as Dhanraj Pillay, Anju Bobby George, Anjali Pathak, Malleshwari, Mohammed Ali Qamar, Dola Banerjee and Jitendra Kumar performed in the tableaux.

Co-incidentally, 13 years later, I again took the charge of the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry in 2016. Within a span of one year, several initiatives were taken to promote sports and help athletes perform better. Sports ministry sanctioned a stipend of Rs 1 lakh per month to athletes while they were in India and $100 a day during the Olympics. Top athletes were allowed to have a personal coach in addition to the existing coach, and liberal assistance was given to them to procure personal equipment. Sports Federations were asked to introduce capacity enhancement activities for the existing coaches. For instance, the boxing coaches were trained by bringing in internationally accredited master coaches. The ministry also started sending coaches abroad for capacity enhancement and 25 coaches underwent a two weeks training at Birmingham. A foreign faculty too was engaged. The diploma programme in sports coaching was integrated with international modules followed by international bodies.

Sports Ministry also substantially increased the number of camps and competitions for a number of sports disciplines to promote sports among masses. A dedicated sports talent search portal was launched to tap the budding talent in sports which otherwise goes unnoticed. The portal connects potential sportsperson to Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres for training and guidance. Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the initiative in Mann Ki Baat and encouraged youngsters to make full use of it. Besides, as India hosted its first U-17 World Cup, we launched Mission XI to popularize football by reaching out to 11 million children in 27,000 schools across 29 Indian states. Mini football fests were also organized across the country to engage students.

Other key steps include reviewing national sports code, 1000 sports scholarships for players coming from the poor background, utilization of stadia on PPP model, sports’ university, sports academies on school grounds after school-hours, emphasis on rural games and sportswomen, and the inclusion of sports in the school curriculum. In the space of youth affairs, we initiated adopt-a-slum campaign involving various stakeholders with the dual objective of engaging youth and improving conditions of slums. Sports competitions were planned in slums as a part of the campaign, and more than 60,000 slum youths participated in 12 Slum Yuva Dauds which were organized to encourage them to take up sports as a career. Besides revamping Scouts and Guides were revamped, the honorarium of Nehru Yuva Volunteers doubled, youth exchange programmes began, and NYKS officials were regularized among other initiatives. For the first time, the process for application and selection of national youth awards became online and transparent.

More than 160 key projects of the Centre were running behind schedule when I became the Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Some of the key causes of the delays were the fund constraints, delays in land acquisitions and the awarding of contracts, and lack of the latest management techniques. The cost of these projects rose significantly by these delays. At first, I focused my attention on finishing 28 major projects which surprisingly contributed to 93 percent of the total cost overruns.

A meeting with bureaucrats concerned was convened. After discussing the nitty-gritty of the pending projects and fixing the accountability, fiscal incentives were also announced for completing the projects before deadlines. Inter-ministerial coordination meetings soon followed to remove the critical bottlenecks. Independent agencies were roped in and the chief executives of mega projects were invited to monitor the progress. The ‘Standard contract management system’ was also released, and a bill seeking amendments in the Land Acquisition Act was tabled for early completion of the pending projects. I toured across the country, conducting an exhaustive survey of over 400 centre-sponsored prime projects such as Delhi Metro, Indian Oil Pipelines, Ahmedabad-Baroda Expressway, Gomti Action Plan, the Integrated Cargo Terminal Project and MRTS in Chennai among others.

The Prime Minister’s Office was receiving over 6000 complaints monthly, out of which nearly 2000 were of a serious nature. These complaints would reach the PMO only when they were not addressed by the ministries or departments concerned.

While I had been holding Janta Adalats in Chandi Chowk to address the complaints of my constituents, addressing ministerial grievances needed a different approach. I began holding weekly meetings with officers from various ministries and directed them to conduct surprise checks to identify the reasons for the delay and clear the grievances swiftly. The erstwhile PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee appreciated these steps and helped me by passing instructions to suspend the officials who failed to resolve the grievances on time.

Large number of complaints received at PMO pertained to pension-related grievances with the defence ministry. Soon a monitoring mechanism was set up for speedy payment of pension to retired jawans and war widows; a senior officer was put in-charge of this with a mandate to report to the PMO every month. This quickened the process and settled pre-1983 pension cases. Similarly, complaints regarding non-receipt of income-tax refunds were abound at the PMO, and suggestions were made to outsource the delivery of the refund orders and mandate post offices to collect IT returns. After receiving complaints from train passengers, we made public in railway coaches the telephone numbers of officials so that passengers could register their complaints. On the same lines, another set of complaints led to increase in the number of casual leaves for Delhi Police personnel from 10 days to 15 days, since long duty hours were impacting their morale and work adversely.

During the period of 2002-03, for few months, I was also the Minister-of-State in Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation where I tried to bring positive changes in the MPLAD scheme.

The district collectors were directed to clear the MPs’ recommendations under the MPLAD scheme within 45 days to avoid delays. Besides, we decided to set up a dedicated website to bring transparency and accountability in the mechanism. The proposed site would offer details on projects sanctioned such as the list of works, fund allocation and disbursement, physical and financial progress, and detailed accounts among others. We also organized the grand photo-exhibition featuring the best works implemented under the scheme all over the country.

For the month of January 2003, I also held the role of the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. Besides looking after the business and political dynamics in the Parliament, steps were taken to simplify the process for public visiting the parliament and improving the security measures.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged the members of parliament to adopt a village under SAGY, I toured various villages in Rajasthan. Every part of Rajasthan is rich in culture and history. Being a heritage lover, I decided to choose a village named Tesing in Alwar district. Surrounded by hills, the village was has an old fort, beautiful step-wells and many ancient Havelis. To begin with, we called a panchayat where I myself, the local MLA, sarpanch and government officers sat across the villagers, enlisted the development works, and I sanctioned the money for the works which were to funded using my MPLAD funds.

When I adopted Tesing, the village had been living in mud since Independence Day. Following a series of road projects, today the entire village has concrete roads with narrow canals flowing on either side of them. The higher secondary school are now equipped with benches, chairs and lockers. The primary health centre (PHC), which was in bad condition earlier, stands modernized, and a maternity room has been built to ease the inconvenience faced by pregnant women during delivery. The PHC was later declared as “Adarsh (Model) PHC” by the state government.

Another area where we have made a substantial progress is the availability of water. Tesing had always been facing water scarcity issue in the past. I requested intervention from the Chief Minister of Rajasthan which was soon accepted. Today, a major programme including boring, piped water supply and water tankers in the village is towards completion, and soon Tesing would have abundant availability of water.

Cleanliness campaigns were launched under Swacch Bharat so that villagers inculcate good sanitation habits. Common people periodically take up brooms and clean streets, colonies and step-wells. Building toilets received special focus, and today all 550 houses in the village have toilets and the village has been declared Open-Defecation Free (ODF).

Other initiatives include organizing sports competitions wherein youth, old and women, all participated with great enthusiasm. Children parks and a gym have been opened up in the village so that our kids and youth live a fit and healthy life. Vocational programmes were being organised to offer better job opportunities to farmers, youth and women. Camps were held to inform villagers about various public welfare schemes, their benefits and procedures to apply for them.

Vision for Delhi

My visions for Delhi stems from these inspiring words of Swami Vivekanada. I sincerely believe that Delhi has enough number of brave, bold men and women who can make it not only one of the best cities.

My vision for Delhi is that it should be a city of opportunities where people

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