Narinder Batra, the Hockey India (HI) chief and the newly-elected International Hockey Federation (FIH) president, is one name that comes to mind instantly the moment one talks about sports administration in the country. Hockey being a high-profile sport in India, being a national game, it’s but natural that he always holds centre-stage when India is doing well on the international stage or is coming up short.
Comfortable with both bouquets and brickbats, Narinder Batra has weathered quite a few controversies and slowly but certainly made his presence felt in the higher echelons of sports administration.
A keen analyst --- one who understands the nuances of sports politics, given that he was also the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) vice-president for quite some time and is also a top Indian Olympic Association (IOA) functionary -- Narinder Batra has managed to carve out a name for himself in the world of sports administration ever since he took up the post of treasurer in 2009.
He was finally elected unopposed as head of Hockey India in 2014. Known for his firebrand nature, which has not really endeared him to either the sports ministry or the IOA, he has nevertheless continued his tirade, ensuring that his -- and his federation’s -- demands are met, right or wrong.
The business acumen has seen Hockey India’s coffers grow from $500,000 to $ 14,100,000 over period of six years and this is probably the reason why India stands tall in the world of hockey despite its none-too-impressive world ranking.
His no-nonsense attitude, even if it has bordered on the arrogant, has ruffled many a feather but ultimately Batra has had his way. For instance, he took it upon himself to ‘punish’ Pakistan, whose players made obscene gestures towards Indian fans after beating the hosts in the Champions Trophy semi-finals in 2014.
Batra decreed that India will not host any FIH tournament in the country after he felt that a mild censure of the Pakistani team management by the world body was not enough to assuage the hurt of the Indians. Pakistan were finally forced to relent, but not before they had been chastened.
This is how Batra is known to work -- take it or leave it, but ‘I’m always right’.