Race walkers Basant Bahadur Rana and Irfan KT have a monthly salary of Rs 15,000. In their preparations for the London Olympics, the Indian army sepoys have spent at least Rs 40,000 on special walking shoes while supporting their families.
However, Kerala’s sports minister KB Ganesh Kumar, sports secretary M Sivasankaran and sports council president Padmini Thomas are facing problems of another kind. About how to spend the money they will get as allowance for the trip.
According to this Times of India report, each delegation of bureaucrats will get a daily allowance of 400 euros, which amounts to just under Rs 30,000. A 10-day trip for three people means an expenditure amounting to 12,000 euros.
Thankfully, the Olympics-bound duo were bailed out and are now being sponsored by superstar Malayalam actor Mohanlal. But the state of affairs is so bad that both of them haven’t even been reimbursed for the shoes they have bought. And when the government sends them shoes — they sent running shoes.
Now one must be thinking how different walking shoes will be from running shoes. A walking shoe will often have a levelled or angled heel and is designed to be especially flexible through the forefoot to enhance propulsion during toe-off. A running shoe will be lighter and with more cushioning to prevent a damaged heel.
The comparison between money spent on the office holders and the struggling sportsmen is enough to prove a point — say what you may about India promoting sport, the sorry fact remains that lakhs of rupees are spent on sending people who will basically do nothing in London but probably click photographs of themselves in front of the Big Ben.
An athlete was quoted in the similar report as saying: ”At the last National Games I won a silver representing Jharkhand. As promised, the government gave me Rs 5 lakh within six months. Those who won medals for Kerala are yet to get a single penny.”
The brewing anger among the athletes has not gone unnoticed. Ganesh Kumar called for a press conference yesterday and announced that all the cash awards since 2008 will be distributed on Thursday.
But this reportedly came after the athletes threatened to represent Chhattisgarh in protest. And one must remember that most of them usually depend on this money for a living.
The Indian Olympic Association many have refused accreditation for contingents from other regions but that will not stop the states from spending their own money to keep their administrators happy.
Read the full report here.