E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: In India, high-sounding bodies like “sports ministry” and/or “sports federation” is an oxymoron. Because each is an anti-thesis of the other. And because, sometimes, they are also managed by absolute morons.
Let me explain why.
# In February 2008, the badminton association of India organises a camp in Goa prior to the Thomas and Uber cups. After all 32 players check in when the organisers realise they didn’t have shuttle-cocks for practice. The camp was called off and the participants were asked to go home.
# A number of Indian weight-lifters are routinely caught for taking banned drugs for performance enhancement, bringing country to disrepute and shame. Yet nothing is done by anybody either in the sports ministry or by the concerned federation to root out the evil. Instead, the same athletes participate year after year.
# Sprint queen P.T. Usha, who really put ‘Indian Athletics’ on the world map along with Milka Singh, cries publicly on national television when the organisers of an athletics function in Rajasthan can’t even arrange for a decent hotel room for her after inviting her.
# In the baton handover function in London for the Commonwealth Games, we had an array of film stars, tennis queens, dancers, none of them even remotely connected with athletics; there was no Usha the only Indian sprinter the world recognises to this day.
# If hockey players going on a strike to get their oral assurances in writing before they could continue with their training was shame enough, relief in the form of Indian cricketers who will contribute from their pockets to save hockey is shame multiplied many times.
# Even BCCI, supposedly the richest sports body on the planet, has people who know nothing about the game. In the recent Feozshah Kotla pitch fiasco, it was found the curator of the pitch knew nothing about the preparation of a cricket match as he was a sports kit manufacturer. The members of the 25-member committee are a builder, couple of businessmen, a banker, industrialists etc. Only two Kirti Azad and Chetan Chauhan were cricketers.
Who are these “jokers” who are ruining Indian sport?
And why are we silent about what’s happening?
The sports ministry and sports federations across the country are mainly run by babus, fixers, brokers most of whom would have never played a game or entered a sports arena, and whose chief interest is not in promoting the game or the players but in feathering their own nests.
Even cricket, the most popular, most televised, most watched game in the country, with overflowing coffers, is full of politicians, time-servers and social climbers.
# Sharad Pawar, Union agriculture minister, will shortly become the president of the International Cricket Council after being president of Board of Cricket Control in India.
# Arun Jaitley was the Union law minister when NDA was in power and is the President of DDCA.
# Laloo Prasad Yadav, former railway minister, is the president of Bihar cricket association.
# Narendra Modi, chief Minister of Gujarat, is the president of Gujarat cricket association.
# Dr Farooq Abdullah, the former chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and a Union Minister currently, is president of J&K cricket association.
The same goes for a number of other sports federations as diverse as football (Praful Patel) and mountaineering (M.S. Gill). Any wonder, there is hardly any coordination between the sports ministry and the various federations like boxing, wrestling, shooting, etc.
Any wonder, there is hardly any vision?
We have had some great players who brought glory for the country. But that has mostly come from those operating in spite of the federations, not because of them: P.T. Usha, Prakash Padukone, Vishwanathan Anand and now the Olympics gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra, who is at loggerheads with the national rifle association.
Till such day the sports ministry and sports federations realise they are there because of the sportspersons and athletes and their primary goal should be nurture and take care of their genuine concerns, sports in our country will remain at the bottom in world rankings and sportspersons will continue to languish.