‘Get rid of that honorary tag’
When Prakash Padukone, India’s first All-England champion, successfully led a players’ rebellion against the Badminton Association of India in 1997, sports lovers would have hoped that it was a step towards ending the politician-bureaucrat nexus in sports federation.
It’s been over a decade now since then, but hardly anything has changed and Padukone puts the blame entirely on the “honorary” culture in Indian sports administration.
“This honorary system has meant that there is no accountability and compulsion for administrators to devote their time for the development of the sport,” says Padukone, 55, who handled the responsibility of BAI’s executive president for four years.
“I have been fighting to bring in a professional set-up for the last 10 or 15 years. And I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.” However, the former World No. 1 insists that sportspersons taking over the associations is not the solution.
“We can’t generalise that having politicians in sports bodies is bad and players should take over. How many players are well versed with administrative responsibilities? Even when I was there, I had no knowledge of these things and left that job to Mr Verma (President) and I concentrated on the technical aspects of the game,” Padukone, who is based in Bangalore, said.
Not just Padukone but other former players also echo the same sentiment. In fact, Joaquim Carvalho — an Olympian, former national coach and now a managing committee member of the Mumbai Hockey Association — feels that in the current system having a politician heading the sports bodies is imperative.
“I don’t see anything wrong in a politician heading a sports association if he helps in its development. Agreed that they come in for fame and publicity, but if the association too is gaining from it then there is nothing wrong in it,” Carvalho says.
“In India, there is a lot of red-tapism. You have to visit various government offices for a variety of clearances. Getting these permissions without political patronage is very difficult. That’s the reason why sports associations approach political leaders.”