On the final day in Glasgow, shuttler Parupalli Kashyap won the men’s singles gold in the 20th Commonwealth Games, bringing down the curtains on India’s campaign. Kashyap broke a 32-year jinx to claim the men’s singles badminton gold while the women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, as also the men’s hockey team, clinched silver medals to cap a creditable Indian showing at the games which closed on Sunday. But, off the pitch, the arrest of two senior sports officials on separate charges of drunken driving and sexual assault came as a major embarrassment for the nation.
That one of them is the secretary of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), which was recently outlawed by the International Olympic Committee for not adhering to anti-corruption norms, shows the Indian sports bodies haven’t learned any lesson from the past. The dubious legacy of Suresh Kalmadi still continues to haunt the playing arena. It is a matter of shame that sports organisers in India have repeatedly shown their lack of fitness for the posts which they hold, often by the use of their non-sporting connections and via a selection process whose fairness is not above reproach.
The large sums of money handled by the sports associations attract “officials” to their governing bodies whose claim to fame is neither sporting nor managerial capability. The regularity with which they get caught in acts of sleaze and of misconduct is proof enough of the need for a thorough shake-up of not only the IOA, but of all outfits which pretend that their absence will be a serious loss to the athletes and the games themselves. Their contribution to the advancement of games and the welfare of players, past and present, is open to question. On top of it, when they bring disgrace to the country in a foreign land, their role and utility become all the more insupportable.