Monday, 18 June, 2007

President, Coach and Politicians

Last week saw a frenzy of activity over two of the most high profile jobs in the country – the President of India and the coach of Indian cricket team.

The hunt was truly on.

I am amazed by the uncanny similarity in the way the ruling coalition in India nominated its presidential candidate and the way BCCI went about selecting the coach of cricket team.

I must admit that Indian Express was first to come up with this interesting analogy on the President and the coach, in one of its editorials. The edit, though, was written before Graham Ford declined the coaching offer and well ahead of the ruling coalition naming its presidential candidate.

In both cases, things were markedly haphazard to begin with, borne out by the lack of structured agenda. Again, in both cases, early front runners fell wayside, as the race gathered momentum. Dark horses were sidelined by ‘influential’ sections. Favourites were tripped at the goalpost. And the eventual winners were pulled from relative obscurity and thrust into national limelight. In the end, the ruling UPA coalition chose political correctness over expertise and ability. BCCI, similarly, chose a non-controversial way out, after being cornered by its own incompetence. (I can also point that the eventual winners were of the same age – 72 – would that amount to stretching things too far?)

Politicians have long ceased to surprise me with their antics, like the one they played out to select their presidential candidate. I have accepted that unprofessionalism (is it a right word?) and lack of accountability are no longer the ‘add ons’, but they come as standard fitments with all politicians. What worries me is that the BCCI - helped in no less way by politicians scrambling to take charge of it - is going down the same drain.

BCCI is the golden goose amongst all sports bodies in India. The very fact that it is THE richest sports organization in India is acting like a magnet, attracting avaracious politicians from all corners, who hitherto had no clue about the game whatsoever. In past, politicians like Madhavrao Scindia, Sheshrao Wankhede, NKP Salve have fiddled with the governing body. But I suspect, it had more to do with the unprecedented publicity that this game offered, and not the money. Not anymore. Corporates are loosening their purse strings like never before and will continue to do so in future. More money is certainly not a bad thing, provided the heart is in right place. I am afraid, with politicians, that may not always be the case, for, money and power often make a potently dangerous mix.

Back in the late eighties, there was a general sense of despondency over the lack of free and fair elections in the country. Public confidence in Election Commission's neutrality had reached its nadir. It was then that, TN Sheshan, as Chief Election Commissioner, cracked the whip. He not only set a strong precedent of free and fair elections, but also ensured that no politician worth his salt, dare infringe on commission’s autonomy ever after.

BCCI needs to be an autonomous body not only in letter, but also in spirit. And for that, it needs a TN Sheshan of its own.


granderBharata said...

nice article

the problem is the BCCI is a private entity

It becomes hard to tell them what to do

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