BCCI president Anurag Thakur was sacked after a prolonged battle between the autonomous cricketing body of India and a committee made by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Indian Olympics Association had recently decided to name Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Chautala, already facing corruption and criminal charges, as its life presidents. While the Indian cricket team has been soaring in rankings, with Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Anil Kumble at the helm of things, despite the BCCI tussle; India has been continuously showcasing a dismal performance at other world sporting events. Not to insult the winners of Olympic and World Championship medalists, no one can deny that India has not been performing up to its potential at world events. The main reason for this is the deep-rooted corruption and neglect marinating Indian sports, except cricket. Our medals tally at the last eight Olympic Games excluding the present one was 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 3, 6 and 2. Meanwhile, the US at the top rarely scores less than a hundred medals, which is as steep a climb as it gets.
Looking at sporting events other than cricket, the charges against Kalmadi and Chautala does not go long back. Kalmadi was the chief of 2010 CWG Organising Committee and was accused of causing a loss nearly Rs 100 crore. Chautala, who was the president of IOA from 2012 to 2014, when the IOC was suspended International Olympic Association, due to its manipulation of elections. Kalmadi ha also presided over athletics bodies and was elected as a Life President of the Asian Athletics Association. He was also a member of Lok Sabha for three times. Chautala, who was the president of Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, when that body too was terminated after IOC accused it of manipulation in elections. So, it is safe to say the government is responsible for gloom in Indian sports. But is it really true?
To answer that, we must understand why cricket is so popular in India and not other sports. The only reason is, we as audience watch, follow and support the Indian cricket team religiously. We are not shown, nor we want to know about other sports. Cricket has been a staple to Indian mindset ever since the World Cup win by Kapil Dev’s boys in 1983. Interestingly, the Indian Hockey Team, once a force to reckon with, stopped bringing medals from around the same time. After winning 8 consecutive Olympic Golds, the last medal came in 1983 Moscow games, and thus began a neglect of every other sport in the country. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is it we who are to be blamed for the continual underperformance at world sporting events. Sure, waking up to Olympics 10 days around the event in 4-year cycles does not help. Most of us did not even know who PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik were before they won us the medals. On the other hand, most of us know how much cricketers are sold to teams at IPL auctions. That is our standard and that is the reason India has brought as many medals in Olympic history as one individual (Michael Phelps) has managed to get for himself.
There is no doubt that the decision to sack Anurag Thakur from BCCI by the SC is something to be lauded, as there has been a deep-rooted problem in that body as well. But why can we not expect the same level of commitment by Indian authorities towards other sports? The first thing that comes to mind is, why can the sporting bodies not be autonomous like the BCCI and remove the political bureaucracy to an extent? A single body will also ensure the fund transfers between various sports, which also may include a certain amount from BCCI as well since it is the richest cricket body in the world. All in all, while India surges ahead in all other aspects, how can we not want a revolution in Indian sports?