SPORTS AND POLITICS IN INDIA

23 Feb
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source: total sports

Apart from the rich culture and diverse arts presence, India has tremendous experience in different sporting activities such as athletics, cricket, shooting, hockey, chess, badminton, boxing, golf, kabaddi, wrestling, swimming etc. Besides this the country has respectable traditional sports such as boat racing, kushti, gilli-danda and others. But the most popular sport in the country is cricket. This sport is played at all age groups starting from the grassroots right up to the international level. The game has given rise to popular personalities such as Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar ,Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli  etc.

Apart from the players the sport has given rise to the popularity of coaches and even commentators. Cricket players are given a lot of attention by the media and advertising companies. India wins one match against Pakistan or Australia and there goes the line of cash prices and cheque’s being showered on them by ministers and state governments. Even in terms of incentives, the other sportsmen and women lag far behind the cricketers.

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source: manjul

Hockey is our National sport, but has lost importance in the past few years; it even failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. In the London Olympics 2012 the Indian hockey team came out last losing all its matches. Not only hockey, but tennis, football, golf, badminton all shares the same pathetic condition. Neither are the sponsors interested in financing them, nor does the government raise enough funds. The Hockey team receives a meagre sum for every goal that they score, whereas those given to the cricketers do not require a mention. Even football has lost its importance to a great extent except for Goa and West Bengal; no other states are interested in football. In short, no sport in India except cricket is well managed. Indian sports are trapped in politics. New controversies arise almost every week.

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source: manjul

The most recent embarrassment to Indian sport is the suspension due to the fact that officials tainted by corruption charges win influential positions. For example Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in prison after allegations of corruption following the 2010 games, was elected as Secretary General of the Indian Olympic Association. If the ban is not overturned, India will be banned from competing in any Olympic events, including the 2014 Winter Olympics and, more worrisome from India’s perspective, the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. It is really shocking to see politicians and ex-bureaucrats holding positions as Chairman and Committee members for several decades most of them having no clue about the sport in general With the government of India pumping several crore rupees into the various sports bodies for promoting sports and encouraging the sportsmen, these sports bodies have become fertile ground for the politicians and ex-bureaucrats to make money. What is even more disturbing is that even after the stinging observations made by the international Olympic association,  the office bearers are still holding on to the positions and have not thought it necessary to quit the job.

Dynasties seem to rule Indian sport.  There are many examples that show how politicians and their families run committees as if it’s a family get together. Parminder Singh Dhindsa of the Akali Dal is president of the Cycling Federation of India and the son of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is currently president of the Punjab Olympic Association. The Chautala brothers Abhay Singh and Ajay Singh have heralded an era of total politicization of the sports federations. Between them, the two brothers control the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation and the table tennis federation of India.

In 2008, Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo stepped down as president of the Rowing Federation of India. He was replaced as president by his cousin, CP Singh Deo. When CP Singh Deo ended his term, he was succeeded by his wife Rajlaxmi Singh Deo.

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source: cartoonistsandeep

Similarly is the case of N Ramachandran, vice-president of the Indian Triathlon Federation (his wife is the president). He is also president of the Tamil Nadu Cycling Association, World Squash Federation, the Tamil Nadu Squash Rackets Association and the vice-president of the Tamil Nadu Olympic Association. Jadgish Tytler, a Congress leader, has been at the helm of the Judo Federation of India for nearly 20 years on a trot. “There is hardly anyone in the judo body who dares to say anything against Tytler.

Sport’s is one area where India lags behind even some of the poorest nations in the world despite a huge pool of talented sportsperson. At the junior levels, our boys and girls can compete with the best in the world in almost every sport. However when it comes to the senior levels, where the actual capabilities of our sportsperson are tested, we fail miserably.

Even though, huge amount is spent on training and grooming of the players we still have not been able to achieve the desired results. The prime reason for poor performances is corruption & political interference. Due to this many time a good player is left out. The government and the Respective athletic boards are the main culprit for letting down India. Most of them are corrupt, lack professionalism and very biased. However the fundamental problem lies in the absence of a sporting culture in India. Sports in India  are considered a secondary and supplementary activity. This explains to a large extent, the apathy on the part of the government machinery towards sports. The corporate indifference too stems from the fact that they are not sure that the sponsorship money will be efficiently used in promoting the game and the welfare of the players.

Those who suffer due to such sordid conditions are the athletes, who have the talent and desire to compete and excel themselves in the international arena but they need to be given proper grooming and training which they have been denied. The ugly conditions in the sports bodies have been repeatedly revealed by several stories such as the coaches misbehaving with women athletes, selecting people in the team based on favoritism and bribes etc. People in India have been watching helplessly and with sadness, while the sports authorities have been behaving as if they are not accountable to anybody and neither the government nor anyone else can touch them.

 -Steffi Ebnett

15 Responses to “SPORTS AND POLITICS IN INDIA”

  1. Anil March 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    I think that either u dont like India or u dont like sports. Some of it was just your perception. If u may know, football thrives in Mumbai and Kerala. Many foreign soccer schools are coming to India. Many people are getting their diploma in coaching. With foreign investors showing great interest, sports in India is bound to rise. Why else would 4 pages in a newspaper still be dedicated to Sports? And if your so determined on slaying politicians et al, what happened to Mr Kalmadi? Surely the Commonwealth games deserves a mention in your noble endeavour. And about hockey, more of the Mahindra conflict and the new cash rich hockey league!

    • steffi March 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      thank you Anil for your comments. i love my country and sports very much. i wish most of what i have written would be my own perception, but unfortunately, all of it is true. let me start by saying i didnt mention Mr.Kalmadi because i felt he was just a small fish in the big pond. having said that. its very easy to put the entire blame on one person, but for a big event like the commonwealth games its the entire sports ministry that is responsible of its success or failure. Because of what happened in that event and the consecutive events the international Olympic committee (IOC) has suspended India form participating in the games in 2016. how more shameful can it get.
      When it comes to football, just because people in these two places kerala and Mumbai love watching football in pubs or at home with friends doesn’t now mean its thriving. i am well aware that football is much loved in metros. But how many children and youngsters are encouraged by their parents to take up the sport professionally? is the question.?
      i doubt many people are even aware of the fact that the hockey world cup was played in India in 2011. Even the hockey league. how much coverage did it get as compared to the IPL.
      i do agree that the new papers cover sports but it mostly consists of cricket, tennis and football. only lately have we started to cover badminton as well. but what about the rest. the new papers only cover’s them during the Olympics like wrestling, archery, boxing etc. do we even know anything about the world series that happen every year in all 3 sports. No we dont..

  2. Melroy March 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Very true.. Politics is ruining sports in this country… very nicely explained in this article.. gives a clear picture as to what is going on in the country.. Very well written..

    • steffi March 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      thank you melroy. for reading the article.. its a very sad state of affairs. i hope we improve in the near future..

  3. kita March 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    An article well written, but a dash of humor could make it more engrossing. Atleast that is what I had expected when I read “Politics and Sports in India”
    Overall *thumbsup*

    • steffi March 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      thank you Ankeeta for stopping by. i will keep the humor bit in mind for my next article. i indeed missed out on that part.

  4. Zeann March 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    A perfect article explaining how politics interferes into the world of sports! It is so true that cricket has been given a lot of importance and not considering hockey which is our national sport. Not only hockey, but the other mentioned sports as well. A little more emphasis and encouragement towards the other sports would probably help India win a couple of medals in the olympics and a little more respect for our national sport, hockey.

    • steffi March 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      thank you Zeann. for your comments. i did focus on all sports India is known for. Many of the other Olympic sports i cant talk of since we have no takers for those sports like fencing. i have the utter most respect for hockey, it just breaks my heart to see it treated so badly. even though its our national sport.

  5. kimberly March 4, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Steffi, i think the article is real good. Like uve covered all the inportant issues.. Which i think all sportsmen wud support cause ony cricketers are recognised here.

    • steffi March 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      thank you kim!!

  6. jankipandya March 12, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    very well explained article. Its a sad state of affairs. Politics have to be separated from sports if India wants to shine in international arena in different sports. Our fascination and fanaticism for only Cricket is also ruining our talent in other sports. Winning a Cricket World Cup entitles the players for huge cash rewards, cars, home etc., while winning a World Cup in Hockey or any other sports will not be appreciated so much.

    The media has to play a very important role of sensitising people about all kind of sports and also not make any one their favourite. All sports men should be treated equally and awarded equally.

    • chaurahha March 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      thank you janki!! for your views. sports in our country does need a lot of attention.

    • steffi March 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Thank you janki. for your views.

  7. Kester Pereira March 16, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    It’s indeed a sad state of affairs to see politics corrupting sports in India. However, besides politics, economics is also to blame to some extent. The level to which IPL has been a success is due to such brilliant marketing behind it. Who would thought we would ever get glued to our box to watch club over country.

    Cricket has become the indirect national sport of our country. Yes, if we proclaim hockey to be our national sport, then we must act in a manner that justify such a proclamation. Furthermore, the recent India two test match wins against Australia, will only give Cricket more attention and by more attention also more money. If Indian politics, is doing little to benefit the other sports, then the solution is to change our mindset over the sports we adore. For a sport fan, or particularly a cricket fan, this seems to be difficult.

    • steffi March 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Thank you kester for your views. we certainly need to improve our sporting culture in our country and not only focus on cricket.

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