The greed for power is insatiable. In the desire to dominate the world, the rules of the game are moulded to suit those whose only goal in life is to control the destiny of others. These specimens are special and if pushed to a corner, they can go to any length to preserve their fiefdom, even if that means cringing and pleading and looking foolish in front of the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking of Lalit Modi, nor am I trying to take another dig at the IPL. I am talking of a motley crowd of men, whose best days are behind them and have reached an age where the best thing to do is to hand over the baton to younger, energetic people in the best interest of the work they were doing.
The last month or so, when we were all immersed in the IPL saga, another tragi-comic drama was unfolding before our eyes.
It was a sight to behold. Men, some of them over 70 years in age, dressed in their best attires, with their jet black hair dyed to such tonal perfection that even the colour black would feel envious, telling the world “We are a law unto ourselves, so don’t mess with us.” They were flaunting their credentials of having ruled India’s sports world from time immemorial as a badge for which they should be honoured and not booted out.
At the core of the dispute is the question how long a person should be allowed to remain an office-bearer of a sports body in the country?
The Sports Ministry, under pressure from the courts, who are listening to a PIL of a fiercely determined lawyer, Rahul Mehra, dusted an old guideline, which restricts the tenure of officials to 12 years with a proviso that the person has to be less than 70 years of age. Unfortunately, this is a death sentence for officials as most of them have crossed both these limits. A few of them have been ensconced in their chairs for even three decades.
These officials say the guidelines are an assault on their autonomy, which has been guaranteed to them by the International Olympic body. They are even threatening that the Commonwealth Games would get derailed if these rules are enforced.
It matters little to them that they are a vital part of a sports system in the country, which has miserably failed to deliver. For India’s vast middle class, which fancies itself as part of a global superpower community, the lack of international sporting success is a huge embarrassment.
And these officials, who have clung to their chairs like leeches, don’t want to own responsibility for these failures. Instead, they are brazen enough to challenge the very legality of these guidelines, which could pave the way for injecting young, fresh blood into a system that is rotten to the core.
I know change of men at the top would not necessarily lead to improved performance as our sporting failures have to do with many other deep-rooted reasons, corrupt, parochial and insensitive governance being just one of them. That does not mean a beginning should not be made. Messers Kalmadi and his entourage should see the writing on the wall and realise their time is up.