Olympians demand increase in pension amount

The Olympians, preferring to remain in the background, have written a series of presentations to the Union Sports Ministry and highlighted the fact that the pension amount needs to be enhanced keeping in mind the inflation.

The sportsmen believe that a favourable response from the Sports Minister, Vijay Goel, would help them tide over their financial issues.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

A group of Olympians have been knocking at the door of the government with a plea to increase the pension amount sanctioned to them under a scheme launched more than two decades ago. The Olympians, preferring to remain in the background, have written a series of presentations to the Union Sports Ministry and highlighted the fact that the pension amount needs to be enhanced keeping in mind the inflation.

The pension scheme was introduced in 1994 with an amount of Rs. 2,000 sanction for Olympic gold medallists and Rs. 1,500 for Asian Games gold medallist. The pension scheme was reviewed in 1999 when Rs. 500 each were added to the two categories.

Ten years after the scheme was launched, the sporting fraternity was delighted at the decision of the Sports Ministry to double the amount to Rs. 5,000 for an Olympic gold medallist and Rs. 4,000 for an Asian Games winner. Within four years of the increase, the then Sports Minister M. S. Gill once again brought good news for the sportsmen when he enhanced the pension amount to Rs. 10,000 per month for the Olympic gold medal winner and Rs. 8,000 for the Asian Games winner.

'Sportspersons feel left out'

The government also added the Commonwealth Games and World Cup winners to the pension scheme at the behest of Gill. “It is nine years now and times for the pension scheme to be reviewed,” said a former Olympic gold medallist. “The pay commission has looked into the interests of government employees and freedom fighters but the sportspersons feel left out,” he added.

Harbinder Singh, member of the gold winning Indian team at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, had made a fervent appeal in 2014 on behalf of the Olympians to then Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, during the National Sports Day celebration event at the National Stadium. At the event, where the gold medallist hockey players of the 1964 Olympics were honoured, Sonowal had assured the sportsmen of an increase the pension amount. In 2011, Sports Minister Ajay Maken, too, had promised a raise in pension to a group of Olympians.

It is understood that there are 32 Olympians who fall in the category of gold medal winners and they have made a request to the current Sports Minister Vijay Goel. The sportsmen believe that a favourable response from the Sports Minister would help them tide over their financial issues and also send a positive signal to the young sportsmen looking for a secure future.

"I understand the significance of their request. They are national heroes and I will do my best to consider their request," Sports Minister Vijay Goel told Sportstar.