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National Games certificates for sale?

Only connections and a little bit of money can fetch you a certificate of participation, reports Ajai Masand.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2007 04:14 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times

It has been 59 years since Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi died. But if you want proof that the Father of the Nation is alive and walking, do step in to the Hindustan Times office and we’ll show you an authentic certificate stating that he participated in the 20-km walk at February’s National Games in Guwahati, representing “Gujarat State”.

That national-level certificates are being misused is an open secret, but on Wednesday HT got proof of a systemic malfunction in Indian sport. We have two certificates with us: one in the name of Gandhi and one blank. Apparently, we can sell the second to the highest bidder.

•The certificate names Gandhi as a participant at the National Games

•The certificate is for taking part in the 20-km walk

•The Guwahati National Games were held in February

•It says the participant represented ‘Gujarat State’

For a fee or by knowing the right person (or both), you can get bona fide certificates attesting to your being a national-level sportsperson. These certificates are priceless to many — they can be used for college admissions, to get a job in a public-sector firm and even to get a visa, if you’re going somewhere with a team of sportspersons.

The certificates are signed by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi, secretary-general Randhir Singh, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Assam National Games Organising Committee secretary-general VS Bhaskar.

<b1>Kalmadi told HT he was unaware of the misuse. “I’ll have to have it checked,” he said. “The organising committee of the host state hands out the certificates. I have no idea.” IOA director ASV Prasad said the matter had not come to their notice but “some people could be misusing it”.

Gogoi was in the US, and unreachable. Bhaskar told HT he had expressed his “apprehensions” to the IOA.

“This fraud is being perpetrated by the team managers from various states,” he said from Guwahati. He admitted that if some athletes did not turn up, the certificates could “definitely fall into wrong hands”. “When we cannot stop counterfeit currency from entering the market, how can we stop this?” Bhaskar asked.

First Published: Jun 29, 2007 01:41 IST