Incredible Chaos In Indian Sports
India is hosting two mega sporting events in a span of next seven months and in between will be associated with another sporting extravaganza which is slated to be held in China. The nation should have been in the grip of sporting frenzy but instead there is a incredible chaos in country’s sports.
In less then two months Delhi will be conducting 71-nation Sporting Mega Event—the Commonwealth Games and in February-April next year, India will host the Cricket World Cup for the third time. In November India will send a large contingent to represent the country at the Asian Games in Ghanzghou, China. “Incredible India” the campaign launched by the Ministry of Tourism to attract the foreign visitors has not yielded the desired results despite millions of dollars being spent on it. But Incredible Corruption and no fear of authority in sports has shocked the common citizen.
No where in the world a ruling party member and a former minister would have wished ill of the events being held in his or her country. But here Incredible Mani Shankar Aiyar, the nominated (Congress) member of the Rajya Sabha openly prayed for the failure of the games. “I would be unhappy if Commonwealth Games turned out to be a success. I am delighted in a way because the rains are causing difficulties for the Commonwealth Games” he said adding only the “evil” would patronise them.
According to Aiyar the whopping Rs 35,000 crore being spent (wasted) on the Games should have been diverted for some other projects, which would have helped the poor people of the country. Just imagine if these remarks had been made by any other political leader, all hell would have broken out but surprising the ruling Congress has not reacted to Aiyer’s wishes. Only Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi, who is also the chairman of the Games Organising Committtee (OC) tried to refute Aiyar’s allegation calling them against the interest of the nation.
“If Aiyar had continued to be the Sports Minister, probably we would not have been able to build the infrastructure.” No doubt that Games preparations have been plagued by delays in the construction of infrastructure and venues, and it has become synonymous with rampant corruption but at this stage efforts should be to see the event is conducted successfully because country’s prestige is at stake.
To add to Games Organising Committee woes are the report appearing in the media that London which is to host 2012 Olympic Games is almost ready to conduct them. “London will be ready a year ahead of schedule and the city mayor Boris Johnson even remarked that the really smart thing for us to do as a nation would be to hold the snap Olympics which would catch our rivals napping.”
Another report which has caught the fancy of Commonwealth Games critics is that the British coalition government has cut 27 million pounds ($41 million) from the Olympic budget as part of its wide-ranging austerity measures to tackle country’s budget deficit. “Every government department has been told they have to lose 25 per cent of their budget over the next four years.
Compare this to our preparations, the Organising Committee (OC) is still seeking more money from the government and people are still not sure if all the stadiums will be ready for the events starting on October 3. Delhi Minister AK Walia has already expressed doubts about the preparedness of at least three stadia.
Swimming complex, built at enormous expenditure, was exposed to ridicule when a young swimmer from West Bengal just managed to escape serious injury after tripping over a loose plastic grill at the side of the diving pool on the opening day of a test event.
There have been several reports of leaking roofs, stinking areas, unfinished work at various stadia which have ostensibly been completed. It is a sad reflection of our commitments to the games. “I am not responsible for the construction of Stadia” Kalmadi was forced to say.
With 100m champion Bolt along with some other top athletes, cyclists and tennis players opting out of the events, the games are bound to loose some sheen and that has caused concern for the organisers.
As if it was not enough, there was other off-the-field scandals which have kept the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), National Sports Federations (NSF) and the Organising Committee (OC) busy. And these scandals are not a good advertisment for the games.
Kalmadi at present is in the eye of storm. Perhaps, he has never been as much under pressure as he is now from various quarters. Mani Shankar Aiyar’s wishing ill to games raised his hackles. He was flummoxed when former olympian and hockey captain Pargat Singh called him the “Ugly face of Indian sports”.
The hockey crisis has also dented IOA’s reputation. Though the hockey elections have been deferred for the fourth time because of the Delhi and Bombay High Courts stay orders, the general view was that 83-year-old Vidya Stokes is Kalmadi’s nominee against 43-year-old olympian Pargat Singh.
”The government has given Rs 130 million to Hockey India in the last two years, but nobody has a clue how the money was spent. There is no transparency in Hockey India,” alleged Pargat.
Pargat blamed Suresh Kalmadi for encouraging the HI officials to indulge in unlawful activities, and accused him destroying the Olympic movement in India. ”Kalmadi is the dirty face of Indian sport. He talks about the Olympic movement, but he has himself destroyed the Olympic movement in the country. Such people should not be part of the sport,” he added.
This was perhaps the strongest ever indictment of Kalmadi in his two decade old carrer in IOA. Soon after Women Hockey sex scandal, another controversy erupted this time involving the Weightlifting coach and this time Suresh Kalmadi was hard presssed for the answers. Sydney Olympic bronze medal winner weightlifter Karnam Malleswari created a sensation when she levelled sexual harassment charges against coach Ramesh Malhotra.
Malleswari had alleged that an SAI coach, who has also been recommended for Dronacharya award, has been sexually harassing junior lifters for more than a decade now. Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) immediately suspended Malhotra and setup a three-member committee to investigate the charges. IWF secretary Sahdev Yadav reacted by saying: “We do not want this to snowball into a bigger controversy. However Malleswari, who is also the vice-president of IWF, is not too convinced with the action.”
Malhotra expectedly denied the allegations asserting that he has never “misbehaved” with women weightlifters, “All charges are “false” and aimed at tarnishing his reputation.” he said. Meanwhile Indian weightlifters participation in the Commonwealth Games is still not certain because of the non payment of the fine imposed on IWF by the International body. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) had, imposed a fine of $5,00,000 on WFI after six Indian lifter tested positive in dope tests in September last year, The Indian federation has so far paid $1,25,000. The balance, amounting to approximately Rs1.77 crore, has to be paid before the Commonwealth Games for the host to field a team in the games.
The Sports Ministry has asked to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to intervene in the matter of the fine imposed by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on the Indian Federation and the latter’s predicament with the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games round the corner.
In its letter to Suresh Kalmadi, the ministry has stated that the IOA should take up the matter with the IWF in order to facilitate the participation of the Indian weightlifters who had been training hard with an eye on the games. The ministry is not in a position to help the Indian Federation since it would amount to encouraging doping.
Last time, in Melbourne, India bagged nine medals including three golds. It had two dope positive cases in Melbourne- Edwin Raju and Tejinder Singh-the same as in the previous games in Manchester. Not to be left alone in this cocktail of financial and other bunglings, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also did not cover itself with glory. The BCCI’s three member committee, which is looking into the charges of financial irregularities by Lalit Modi while he was running the multibillion dollar Indian Premier League, held its meeting at a five star hotel here without any result. Modi’s lawyer demanded removal of Arun Jaitely and C Amin from the committee a demand not acceptable to the Board.
Amidst this cacophony of scandals, there however were two Incredible Indian sports persons who made every countrymen proud by their achievement. Badminton ace Saina Nehwal’s performance was hailed by the Lok Sabha and while master blaster Sachin Tendulkar scored his 48th test century (including 5th double ton) to redeem Indian cricket’s reputation.
Tendulkar, is showing no sign of weariness despite playing for the country for more than two decades, and Saina Nehwal inching towards the World’s top ranking, sports buffs in the country have something to celebrate at the time gloom and doom.
By Harpal Singh Bedi