The state of Sports in India is for all to see in the number of medals won by us in 2016 Olympics. For a nation of 125 crore, the grand total was 3 medals.
To know about the structure of Sports in India, read below excerpts from the article quoted above:
Sports federations are autonomous non-government bodies: The respective national sports federations are autonomous bodies, often registered as societies in India just like the BCCI, and the government has no role in administration or appointment of members of these federations (except liaison officers, who are appointed in consultation with the sports ministry but are not deemed government employees). These national federations further have state level federations
If the concerned international sports federation is affiliated to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and it grants you the affiliation, your federation becomes eligible to become a member of the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) and be recognized as a National Sports Federation by the government.
The sports ministry assesses application of various national level sports federations and gives them recognized status, after which they can receive financial grants (under various schemes) and other assistance that include permission to use public infrastructure such as stadiums and sporting equipment for training and development of sportspersons.
Contrary to what many think, government doesn’t select or send sportspersons and supporting staff to international events. IOA is the non-government autonomous body that works with member sports federation to choose sportspersons for international events such as CWG, Asian Games, or Olympics, and for other events such as National Games. IOA is a member of IOC, which again is an autonomous body at the international level.
Even though the federations receive assistance from the government, the government has no executive powers to interfere in their management.
What if some sports federation is not working dutifully and properly? Unfortunately the government can’t act against them as they are independent bodies, though they can be denied some assistance and grants. However the IOA or the international federation of that sport can take punitive actions. For example, the Indian Boxing Federation was suspended in 2012 by its international federation, while the IOA had suspended Indian Hockey Federation in 2008.
While the government can’t interfere in management of sports federations, it’s true that politicians from virtually every political party are members of some or the other national sports federation or of the affiliated bodies of that federation. Many politicians are members of multiple sports bodies, which often leaves the public wondering how come they are experts of so many sports.
As one can see, Indian sports is in the hands of geriatric dynasties who have been sitting pretty on the committees of these Federations, eating Government grants, since independence.
Federations are filled with deadweight dynasties comprising their committee’s since ages, for them nothing matters more than preserving the status quo. Government can’t remove them, no matter how incompetent they are. To ensure Government grants come to them, they share their loot with Politicians by throwing some positions at them, with perks like stay, travel etc.
In the guise of Not-for-profit, essentially these are For-profit entities for select few.
Please read my article MODI’S IDEAS TO BOOST INDIA wherein I wrote – The sectors plagued most by socialist disease are Education and Health. Only non-profit Societies and Trusts can operate statutorily-recognized organizations in these sectors. I call this as “Non-profit profiteering” since by and large, profit accrues to these institutions, but is merely not reported. Outcome? – These sectors are perennially crippled by lack of access to debt. Lack of investor oversight has also meant that these bodies have become opaque, undemocratic and prone to financial manipulation. Ultimately how humanely one runs the initiative, depends on the intentions of the individuals, not on Laws. We can definitely do better by removing NGO’s/ Societies/ Trusts in education/ health thereby improving their access to financial and technological up gradation.
US universities receive large corpus of donations from ex-students, set up endowment funds and sponsor patented technological innovations, thereby earning massively. These funds are then invested in expansion and modernisation. Lack of private companies ails these sectors in India and inhibits development of propriety technologies. I find it strange that NRI’s donate to their alma mater in US rather than Indian educational institutions from which they studied.
The Defence sector in India also keeps its technological innovations away from these opaque institutions, thereby resulting in lack of mass production of innovative products by Indian companies (a la the internet).
Converting these not-for-profit institutions into private companies requires painstaking effort and clear guidelines from the GoI. These sectors also suffer from high Real Estate values and hence black money. Reforms would also mean tremendous FDI in the education/ health sectors, given the middle class’s aspirations and propensity to spend on them.
The jolt which meritocracy receives, in sectors which are reserved for “Not-for-profit” Societies and Trusts is proven by the state of our Education, Health and Sports sectors. These sectors are in hands of builders and businessmen, who are not interested in excellence in their fields. For them, it’s about constructing a building on land, which gives a rental kind of return – The “animal spirits”, the competitive zeal, the quest for excellence and the “market” features are missing from “Not-for-profit” sectors.
Internationally, there are 2 models which nations have adopted to create a system for achieving excellence in sports. One is the US model, other the Soviet one.
There is no ministry or central government body in the USA that oversees sports and its development. However, the country has a Department of Health and Human Services, which advises local bodies and schools to spend on sports, which is central to well-being. Sports is also closely associated with education in the US, with organized sporting events being part of most of the high schools and colleges.
The US sports model is total capitalism – there are professional leagues, privately owned teams, competitions with millions of dollars’ worth of prize money and sponsorship and Media rights which finances the whole system. Players reaching zenith of their performance earn millions.
The Soviet model is a top down model – Huge stadiums and facilities are created, then young kids are identified at School level and complete focus is put on grooming them for each sport. The kids are supposed to leave their normal life and they are cut off from family. Their entire life becomes the hostel and the sport. China copied this model to reach high medal tally in Olympics.
What is the way out for India to become a leader in Sports? Suggestion:
The only way out to remedy the problem in Sports in this situation, is introduction of market reforms in these Federations. With influx of huge number of Sports channels on Tv and commercial leagues for many sports, the moment is ripe for Government to bring these sports as career choice to School and College levels. There is a need for assessing students as 50% academic, 25% communication and 25% sports.
It doesn’t matter whether or not Private companies can be granted affiliation by IOA – If BCCI can be “Not-for-Profit”, yet run as the richest commercial body in Indian sports, then it’s clear that ultimately intentions of the Management matters, not what statutory structure they have.
Big money, commercial contracts, player’s playing for commercial leagues, players going PRO, teams owned by billionaires, School and College competition Media rights going for billions in auctions – in short, the whole gamut of commercialization of all sports, is called for.
Lazy, fat dynasties sitting in committees of Federations need to be shaken up. The US Capitalist model is what India needs to churn out international medal winners.
The reputation of the country, its “Soft power” rests on laurels brought by Sportsmen and women from international events. In this situation, how on Earth can India leave Sports on these “Federations”?
Government can bring out a law which categorizes some of these Societies/ Trusts/ Federations as “Critical for country’s prestige”. Such Sports Federations would have to conform to standards set up by Government – grants from the Government and affiliation from IOA would be contingent on performance. Such Federations would have a low age for office bearers and sports background would be compulsory for them. If possible, private companies should be allowed affiliation of IOA and they be allowed to list on stock exchanges.