It is a golden day for Indian sports and a God-sent opportunity. The Government of India missed a golden opportunity to clean up the mess after the outbreak of the Commonwealth Games scam, but it chose to sit on the fence.
Had it acted then, we would not have been slapped internationally like this. One reason for the inaction is that vested interests cut across party lines, a factor that has seen four sports ministers in the last five years. Ajay Maken, the former incumbent, was doing a fantastic job but the vested interests intervened and the government had to bow under the pressure.
All this talk of the Indian Olympic Association's suspension by the International Olympic Committee being a national shame is a sham. Where is the shame? This is how these people (vested interests) operate.
When the IOA was asked to amend its constitution and incorporate the principles of good governance, and be in sync with the Olympic Charter, the response from the mandarins was 'we are a private body, who are you to tell us what to do'. This stance continued for a long time. IOC shows IOA the red card | They say
When the International Olympic Committee started to tighten the screws on the IOA, asking it to fall in line and sending observers to oversee the polls, the officials started to sing a different tune. 'We are a part of the world's largest democracy and governed by the laws of the land. Who are you? We are subservient to no one'.
This stand of the IOA was unacceptable as such things only happen in dictatorial regimes and not in a democracy.
However, the situation is retrievable. An ad-hoc committee, comprising Olympic medallists like Abhinav Bindra and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, men of impeccable reputation, should be set up to administer the IOA.
The motives driving the panel should be to administer the athletes' interests and ensure that the amended constitution of the IOA, drafted in July 2010, gets into existence and is passed by the House.
The situation we find ourselves in could not have come at a better time as major multi-discipline events (Asian Games and Commonwealth Games) happen only in 2014.
We have a year to clean up the mess, but it is imperative that the ad-hoc panel does not get a tenure of more than six months. Elections should then be conducted under the observation of the IOC, government and an elections commission comprising two-three of these Olympic medallists.
Once this is done, the IOC will not hesitate to revoke the ban. Yes, the athletes will suffer for a few months but it will pale in comparison to the fact that they have been getting a raw deal for so many decades. The writer is a lawyer, specialising in sports