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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

From 166 to just 10: India’s Olympic freeloaders

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 07, 2012
First Published: 20:38 IST(7/7/2012) | Last Updated: 12:56 IST(9/7/2012)

Remember the fat Indian delegation of 166 men and women from almost all political outfits and the bureaucracy — but a very few former Olympians — that went to Beijing Olympics?

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Well, the story has drastically changed this time — only 10 people, mostly former sportspersons, are getting to board the flight to London. Not even a single MP, state-level politician or bureaucrat of any non-sport ministry is in the list.

During the first six days of the 12-day London Olympics beginning on July 27, India will be represented by a five-member team headed by sports minister Ajay Maken. The rest will attend the second half under sports secretary PK Deb.

In 2008, the delegation included, among others, Krishna Tirath, then an MP and now women and child development minister, Vijay Bahuguna, another former MP and now Uttarakhand chief minister, and heads of several national sports federations.

The official reason: preparing for the Commonwealth Games of 2010. The delegates were given the title of CWG observers. But what did they eventually contribute to the CWG is not yet known.

The team’s Beijing trip proved to be quite expensive at Rs. 2 crore, with each member getting a daily allowance of $75, revealed a reply to a Right to Information query later.

This time too, the politicians expected a junket to London. Requests from MPs and state governments poured in.
 
“Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments sent official proposals nominating state sports ministers to be part of the delegation,” a senior ministry official said.

But the finance ministry decided to keep the delegation small and avoid a repeat of the 2008 controversy.
 
The delegation to London includes former hockey stars Aslam Sher Khan, Viren Rasquinha and Ashok Kumar, sprinter PT Usha, swimmer Khazan Singh and tennis players Rohit Rajpal and Manisha Malhotra.

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