The state units are in a state of stupor. Perhaps, this is one reason why there is thin participation at the national level.
Sample this: In 1968, when I became national champion in 800m, the Rajasthan state athletics unit was headed by ML Jadam. When I hung up my spikes in 1982,
Jadam was still at the helm.
Now, I am leading a retired life after serving the Sports Authority of India as athletics coach, but Jadam's family is still running the show in the state. Recently, the elder Jadam passed away, passing on the baton to his son (Parmod), who is the secretary now.
I am sure this tradition is alive in other states too.
This kind of system has only cultivated a vote bank and ruined the track and field culture in the country.
The insecurity to hold onto their respective posts has deprived athletes of their due and, despite better facilities available now, improvements continue to be marginal.
When I was competing, the facilities weren't as good as they are now and there were negligible financial benefits.
Still, participation was huge in almost every national-level event, and results were good. My national record of 1:45.77, set during the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, is still there. It's because of a lack of planning that no runner has come close to it.
Those running the show have hardly any knowledge of the sport. There are several international athletes like me whose views are never incorporated in the national policy.
Till such time the state units are revamped and people with knowledge of the discipline get actively involved in policy making, improvements won't happen.
To have a strong foundation, the focus should be at the junior level. For that, experienced coaches should be engaged and their valuable suggestions incorporated in the policy.