Friday, 7 February 2014

Shame on India

Spare a thought for Shiva Kesavan, Nadeem Iqbal and Himanshu Thakur.  Who ? you might ask. A luger, a cross country skier and an alpine skier respectively. They are three Indians who will be at the Sochi Winter Olympics that start today. But for the next eighteen days they are not allowed to be Indians. What a shame.

This is because India is currently suspended from the Olympic movement. The Indian Olympic Association's membership of the International Olympic Committee stands suspended. IOA officials have been accused of corruption and criminal charges are pending. Yet one continues to hold his post in the IOA, which is against the Olympic charter. The IOC gave time for the IOA to hold fresh elections and reconstitute the IOA. The IOA did not do it . Consequently India stands suspended from the Olympics.

Shiva Keshavan is a five time Olympian. He will lead the contingent of three in today's opening ceremony. But they will march under the IOC flag, representing as individuals and not as Indians. The Indian flag is banned. They cannot sport the Indian emblem on their uniforms.  They cannot call themselves Indians. The word India has actually become a four letter word.

"There is more politics in sports than in politics,” says sports historian K. Arumugam. Nothing could be truer.  Every sports federation in India is full of politicians. Some have stayed on in their jobs for decades although they are even beyond geriatrics. Corruption and disgusting politics is endemic in Indian sport. The scum that run the IOA don't even care for the shame on the country by seeing the three Indians march under the Olympic flag - they are only interested in their own positions. If there is one field in which I am ashamed to be an Indian, this is it. And I am a sports nut, in case you didn't know.

Sure, India has no history of any sort in the Winter Olympics. For the most part, India is a hot country with no tradition of winter sport. That is what makes the achievement of Shiva, Iqbal and Thakur, all the more creditable. They shine in a sport that is utterly alien to the country. There is absolutely no money in these sports - they raise their own and thankfully the government of India came forward to help them get to Sochi. They are extremely unlikely to win anything (never say never in sport). But the fact that they have gone to Sochi makes me extremely proud of them.

Sack all the administrators of every sports organisation in India. Ban them for life from even approaching a sports field. Only an Indian who has represented India in the sport and who has held no office at all in any sports administrative body ever should be asked to run the sports organisation. As for the lot currently in the IOA, can we all collectively clear our throats and spit on them.

I cringe to be an Indian today. But during the opening ceremony march past I am going to lustily cheer with tears in the eyes for Shiva, Iqbal and Thakur.


Sriram Khé said...

Wow, you have some emotions here!

I don't understand how the intense politicization of sports, and the phenomenal level of corruption that goes on, is tolerated to the extent it is ... Well, I don't understand many, many aspects of India, anymore ...

To feel better after the opening ceremony, watch "Cool Runnings" to get your spirits back up ;)

Anonymous said...

Fully echo the sentiment you expressed Ramesh. I do not even want to think about Football and where we stand..
Dont know what the sports ministry is doing, even media seems to be not very interested..

Ramesh said...

@Sriram - Even hard hearted guys are capable of an emotion or two :) Large parts of the human race has lot its moral bearings I believe - and hence the widespread corruption everywhere. Its a depressing thought.

@Exkalibur666 - Yes, the less said about Indian football the better - both in terms of performance and in terms of the dirt level. Another body which politicians have thoroughly spoilt - Praful Patel is the head of AIFF now.

Prats said...

Sad stated of affairs laden with corruption irrespective of sport one picks up in India. Totally agree with your post.

gils said...

felt sad to watch those under banner of stateless participants :( I seriously they do win a medal to shame the administrators.That would be the ultimate slap on the face of this corrupt system

Ramesh said...

@Prats - Yes, name a sport and the official body is drowning in politicians. And sports is supposed to embody fair play and free spirit. What an irony.

@Gils - I don't think I can bear it if any win a medal and the IOC flag goes up at the ceremony.

The Million Miler said...

sorry state of affairs! And we blindly support a cricket team which is not the National Team of India but a club team (BCCI)

Ravi Rajagopalan said...

@Ramesh: by now you would have heard of Shiva Keshavan's amazing recovery from the fall during the Luge run. By not giving up his timing stands at a credible sub-30! What guts! And of course N Srinivasan's brother has become the president of the IOA. Apparently he is president of the Indian Squash Association. I am told that he is a staunch tam-bram vegetarian and he thought he was becoming the head of a movement that championed the increased of the squash vegetable in Sambar and Rasam. Now that he heads IOA expect him to take full control of the Winter Olympics and ensure that the next edition of the games is held in Madras in May 2018.

Deepa said...

There is no excuse for the shoddy state of affairs in India. But I find it extremely appalling for India to be banned for 'corruption' in games held in 'Russia'.

Ramesh said...

@Kiwi - And the BCCI is a "charitable organisation" and hence enjoys a tax free status

@Ravi - Yes, Shiva did well. To politicians banned from sports organisations, I should add industrialists as well.

@Deepa - Sure corruption is a worldwide phenomenon and India is hardly a leader, but still to have a tried and convicted corrupt guy as your office bearer is going too far. By the way the little one is no longer so little as I can see from your profile photo. How time flies. But how do you remain the same ?? :):)

Sriram Khé said...

Ahem, the BCCI is not the only tax-free organization ... as with everything else, we in the US are #1 on this too--the National Football League, which brings us the annual religious holiday of "Superb Owl," is also a non-profit organization.
Even if you live outside the US, some of you (you know who you are!!!) are devotees of this "charitable" organization ;)
Head to:
"seeks to educate the public about the government subsidization of the NFL and its nonprofit tax exempt status as well as empower fellow football fans, taxpayers, and allied groups to hold politicians accountable and pressure the league to end its anti-fan behavior, pay its fair share, and play by the same rules as everyone else."

Ramesh said...

@Sriram - I have no problem with bashing the boondoggles that the NFL gets - tax breaks, subsidies from cities are all a crying shame. That is very different from being crazy about the game :):)

Shachi said...

I am so so proud of them too. Have not watched any of the coverage yet (dying to see atleast the figure skating) but managed to watch Shiva's video of how he recovered - I felt so proud.

I try to look at the positive - these three are against all the odds but made it to Sochi. Atleast its not zero. And hoping to see 30 or 300 instead of 3 in the coming years!

Ramesh said...

@Shachi - Oh the winter Olympics telecast is beautiful. You must watch. In India it is being telecast in brilliant HD. The timings are perfect - evenings and early into the night. Its an absolute feast.

Vishal said...

very sorry state of affairs... this politics is getting so murkier every day and speads so much of negativity at the same time... wonder why?

Nowhere else could I have gathered so much of insight on this topic. I really missed this space for past few months.. nice to be back :)

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