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Yet to toe national code, Indian Golf Union risking golfers’ future

The Indian Golf Union is yet to conform to the National Sports Development Code of India despite repeated reminders and it could lead to the body being derecognised by the Indian Olympic Association.

other sports Updated: Oct 10, 2017 16:25 IST
Robin Bose
The Indian Golf Union has been in violation ever since the National Sports Development Code of India came into effect.
The Indian Golf Union has been in violation ever since the National Sports Development Code of India came into effect.(AFP)

Ever since the National Sports Development Code of India came into effect on January 31, 2011, the Indian Golf Union (IGU) has been in violation. Unless it acts fast, golfers could miss out on the Asian Games at Jakarta in August 2018 as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has threatened to derecognise golf’s governing body in India.

Trouble was brewing for a while as several reminders from the union sports ministry to amend the rules had gone unheeded. Even the letter on February 23, 2017 --- addressed to the president and secretary-general of the IOA and presidents and secretary-generals of all national sports federations (NSFs) --- calling for a compliance report within a month of receipt, too went unanswered by the IGU.

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Perhaps, it was this resistance to change that led IOA secretary-general, Rajeev Mehta, to write to the IGU president, Wg Cdr Satish Aparajit (retd), on September 6, 2017 to “amend the constitution in consonance with the basic guidelines followed by NSFs affiliated to IOA before conducting the next AGM and confirm it in next 45 days or failure of which shall result in necessary actions”.

The IGU AGM and elections, slated for October 17, when the new president was to take charge, have been postponed to November. But even then time is short for the rules can be amended. Asked during the press conference of the Women’s Indian Open last week, Aparajit refused to comment but confirmed that “IGU was committed to amending the rules”. Contacted by Hindustan Times on Monday, Mehta said he was “out of town and could comment only after going through the file”.

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If the IOA does derecognize the IGU, it will set in motion a chain reaction. The sports ministry could well follow suit, jeopardising golfers’ participation in the Asian Games, government grants (funds) will stop and the IGU will not be able to send teams under the Indian flag for any international tournament. Since the way back into the IOA’s fold could take time and golf being an Olympic sport, the 2020 Olympics could also be affected.

Hindustan Times has learnt that in a rearguard action, IGU treasurer Ishwar Achanta has drawn up a draft, which he claimed “largely conformed to the National Sports Code”. It will be placed before the IGU Council soon, and if approved, will be sent to the ministry.

IGU’s long-standing argument that the uniqueness of the sport, wherein affiliation is granted to member clubs instead of state bodies, too has been shot down by the IOA.

Mehta wrote in his letter, “The governance of NSFs is one and the same for all sports and the IGU cannot be considered an exception owing to a distinction in governance at the local level.”

This has left the IGU with no option but to fall in line.

Provisions in the IGU constitution found non-compliant by the IOA

The current categories of membership with different proportional voting rights result in inequitable representation. Generally, NSFs grant membership to state associations with equal representation of one or two votes in the general assembly. On line of the constitution of the IGF (International Golf Federation), professional golf organisations may also be granted membership with or without voting rights. As a rule, other institutes and associate members of NSFs shall have no voting rights.

The election of executive committee of NSFs is held once in four years. Conducting elections for the governing council of IGU every year disrupts leadership and continuity in development.

In accordance of the Olympic Charter, with the exception of the chairman of athletes’ commission/athlete representative, all other positions in the executive committee of a NSF (Council in this case) shall be constituted by means of election from the general assembly. A fixed allocation of positions or zonal elections or biased preference to certain groups is not in the spirit of democratic elected governance as followed by the IOA. All members of the general assembly should have equal opportunity to contest elections.

The guidelines of the MYAS (ministry of youth affairs and sports) and compliance with the directives for election in National Sports Development Code 2011 are mandatory. The MYAS and IOA should be informed in advance about elections.