Of politics and finance in Indian sports

first_imgSharda UgraPolitics, as we understand it, is usually party versus party. Congress vs BJP vs RJD vs LSD vs WMD… you get the drift. Politics, as the Ministry of Sports sees it, is a different, diversionary kind of tactic.Here party lines blur and the only line adhered to is one,Sharda UgraPolitics, as we understand it, is usually party versus party. Congress vs BJP vs RJD vs LSD vs WMD… you get the drift. Politics, as the Ministry of Sports sees it, is a different, diversionary kind of tactic.Here party lines blur and the only line adhered to is one of self-interest. All those in favour of perpetuating self-rule on one side and the befuddled babus on another. If this were a wrestling contest, it would be like sending a 50 kg stick insect up against a 110 kg gorilla. As things stand, India’s leading federation bosses, the er… above mentioned gorillas, first have their cakes bought with public money. Then they get to eat them too with a bunch of bananas-trips to the Olympics and other world events – thrown in as bonus. Suresh Kalmadi, P.R. Dasmunshi, K.P.S. Gill, V.K. Malhotra, Digvijay Singh, K.P. Singh Deo, et al, belong to India’s original Backscratchers Union.They have survived changes of government, ideology, policy and post-Olympics purges because they look after one another. Just as the BCCI lives in mortal dread of a “corporate takeover” and so resists professionalisation, our sports administrators also invoke the bogeys of a “threat to autonomy”.It’s great, this autonomy. It means a freedom from accountability (and actually from accounting) but does not imply demonstrating the dynamism to find independent funding. For that there is always the bottomless pool of our taxes.In the ministry, when faced with this powerful all-party club, they tend to throw up their hands and then do the easy thing – go after tricolours on helmets or what the cricket team is called. In recent months, though, something stirred: elite athletes were told they could bypass their federations and approach the ministry directly for funding.Now a scale for financing sports based not on a fixed priority list of disciplines but on a dynamic performance rating is being formulated. Whether the new sports minister will follow through on this is another matter. A few months ago, a meeting of state sports ministers was to discuss moving sport from the state list to the concurrent list, i.e. putting sport under Central control. Just before the meeting, a senior Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official hosted the ministers for breakfast after which the collective power of persuasion and pakoras had them opting for the status quo.advertisementYes, the government of India is not the world’s most efficient creature and yes it has more important things to do. But when it foots the bill for most Olympic sports, you would think a statement of expenses is the least it is entitled to.last_img

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