I was somewhat taken aback when, earlier this evening, I heard a TV newscaster talking — as always, at the top of his voice; what training manual tells these blokes that sense is measured in decibels? — that ‘Kalmadi has said he will give the Indian players one crore’.
Excuse me? It is not Kalmadi’s money to give, for starters — you’ve got to be seriously out of touch if you, as a newsperson, put him forward as the solution, and not as part of the problem.
As it turns out, the money is being provided by Sahara India as an interim measure to salve the feelings of the distressed players. A line in that report catches the attention:
“In the genuine interest of the national hockey players, Sahara India Pariwar has decided to pay immediately Rs 1 crore in suspense account to Hockey India, only for distribution to the players so that they can peacefully and happily practice and play for the country,” read a statement from Sahara.
Do those words, “only for distribution to the players”, tell you a story? Clearly, that is experience speaking — the experience of having paid money in the past, as official sponsor, only to see it land up in every pocket other than those of the players. Here’s another clip:
“Sahara has also paid Rs 77 lacs in December as advance for the quarter of January 15 to April 14, 2010. Sahara will go through the past accounts of Hockey India and shall take suitable decision for this amount,” it added.
Never mind Sahara India going through the accounts — if ever there was a case for a full, public inquiry into just what Hockey India is doing with the funds provided to it out of the Sports budget [which is to say, taxpayer money] and the contributions of the sponsors, this is it.
Never mind moaning about declining standards in our ‘national game’ — the first objective has to be to clean up its administration, and weed out those who ‘run’ the game merely in order to feather their own nests.