I write this in the backdrop of the latest slump by Indian cricket, and the controversies involving two Indian athletes – Monica Devi and Sania Mirza – at the Beijing Olympics 2008.
Indian sports – not only cricket – has been like this only since we gained independence. I recently had a chat with some sportsmen in my hometown Ahmedabad, cutting across various disciplines, and the things they spoke about their internal functioning were crazy. There is a gentleman (who is not so gentle in reality) called Narhari Amin, former Deputy CM of Gujarat, a typical Congress leader, and a well know bully and muscleman from his student days. He allegedly captured Gujarat Cricket Association by force (as ex deputy CM). He got clubs not supportive of his panel out, and only those who may vote for him were allowed the voting rights. This became a permanent arrangement after his taking over the GCA. His detractors have stopped hoping against hope now.
I spoke with the secretary of the GCA, a seasoned official, and he had to say, “so what! we have been run like this since the days of RAJA and MAHARAJA!” Local tourneys under the GCA are held only when the first class season nears about its end, thus making club teams and players have no future whatsoever. The reason? A sheer lack of interest from those running the organization. One gentleman, who is also a relative of an international umpire from Gujarat and himself an ex Ranji player, showed me an antique like heavy roller at the Gujarat College Ground, a premier sports facility. It’s manufacturing firm ceased to exist several decades ago, and the date of assembly read 1905!
There was an ex-hockey player who told me why he became a tennis coach. He saw Indian hockey taking him nowhere. He got trained under the programme of a world tennis body instead, and began offering his own coaching sessions. His mentor and a very senior hockey coach himself, Kishan Karve, who recently passed away at the age of 84, would go angry on being asked about the present morass. He had startling stories to share from the days of Pt. Nehru and Indira Gandhi. He was trained by the legendary duo of Dhyan Chand and Manna Singh. His hands would start trembling in frustration, and he would mumble, “my brain may explode. I have seen the downfall of Indian hockey. I have seen India’s dishonesty at its worst. Please, do not ask me to relive all that memory yet again. Nothing will come out from what you are trying to research now. Go and make moolah by doing something else. Indian sports is a burial ground, which carries no positive hope!”
As Beijing thrives by organizing the Olympics 2008, it’s time for the Indian sports to go picnicking and show its true nature. Monica Devi’s dope charge, its withdrawal and the resulting cancellation of her participation, and Sania’s mum traveling as part of the official Indian contingent are only a few of its stark reminders.