With the vision of making India a top sports destination by 2030 by providing a safe, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and sustainable air sports ecosystem, the country launched the National Air Sports Policy (NASP) 2022.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. Scindia launched the initiative.
“It is time for India to take its rightful place and become global capital of air sports. We want to create an environment of adventure, thrill and sports in the country. For this, we will leverage the energy of our youth below the age of 35 which accounts for 70 per cent of India’s population which is larger than the total population of Europe and three times that of the USA.
“India has a huge geographical expanse, extending from the Himalayas and the mountainous regions to our states in the northeast to the plains in central India to the coastal regions on the western-eastern coastline, and therefore you have the ability in this country to have the widest diversity of air sports,” Scindia said.
Air sports, as the name suggests, encompasses various sporting activities involving the medium of air. These include sports like air-racing, aerobatics, aero modelling, hang gliding, paragliding, para motoring and skydiving etc.
India has the potential to be among the leading nations in the world of air sports. It has a large geographical expanse, diverse topography, and fair-weather conditions. It has a large population, especially the youth. It has a growing culture for adventure sports and aviation.
The NASP 2022 is a step in this direction. It has been drafted based on the inputs received from policy makers, air sports practitioners and public at large and will ensure establishment of good quality of infrastructure, equipment, instructors and services.
The policy, according to the minister, will serve to attract air sports enthusiasts from all over the world, especially those who live in areas where harsh winters prevent them from participating in such activities.
Scindia believes that air sports enthusiasts from Europe, North America and Australia would flock to India to practice in such activities in the winters.
Speaking on the future of air sports in India, Scindia said, “From a small market size of around 5,000 odd air sports practitioners creating around Rs 80-100 crore of annual revenue in India, I feel we can target over Rs 8,00010,000 crore annual revenue and generate over 1,00,000 direct jobs. The economic multiplier benefits in terms of travel, tourism, support services and local infrastructure development will be over three times.”
Under the new policy, there will be a four-tier governance structure for air sports including Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI), the apex governing body; national associations for individual air sports or a set of air sports, as appropriate; regional or state and Union Territory level units of the national air sports associations, as appropriate; and district-level air sports associations, as appropriate.
The policy will cover the following air sports in India — aerobatics, aero modelling and model rocketry, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding and powered gliding, hang gliding and powered hang gliding, parachuting (including skydiving, BASE jumping and wing suits), paragliding and para-motoring (including powered parachute trikes), powered aircraft (including ultra-light, micro-light and light sports aircraft) and rotorcraft (including autogyro).
Scindia also interacted with two Indian air sports players — Shital Mahajan and Rachel Thomas. Both are sky drivers and Padma Shri awardees. Shital Mahajan is known as the first woman to perform an accelerated free fall jump over the Antarctica from 10,000 feet, the youngest woman to jump over both the North and South Poles and the first woman jumper to perform it without trials, while Rachel Thomas is the first Indian woman to skydive from 7,000 feet over the North Pole.
Key objectives of the policy are to promote an air sports culture in the country, enable adoption of international good practices in safety including but not limited to air sports infrastructure, equipment, operations, maintenance and training; develop a simple, stakeholder-friendly and effective governance structure; enhance participation and success of Indian sportspersons in global air sports events and promote design, development and manufacturing of air sports equipment in India in line with the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’.
The policy stated that the list of air sports may be modified from time to time, as may be deemed necessary by the competent authority. The coverage of NASP 2022 will include vintage aircraft in each air sport, where applicable.