Mr Maken, leave the BCCI alone

Take into account this simple analogy: You work for an organisation; really enjoy working for it. Over the years, you grow emotionally attached to the organisation and start associating with its various highs and lows at a very personal level. But still your emotional involvement doesn’t mean that you own any part of the company.

It may not be a great analogy but it does, to a great extent, explain the underlying logic of why the BCCI cannot be forced to become a National Sports Federation unless it truly wants to.

In all fairness, the BCCI was established as an independent body that does not take any grants from the government. It plays in tournaments organised by the International Cricket Council, which is another autonomous body independent of any government control. And just because a majority of us identify with the team that the BCCI sends to various tournaments, doesn’t mean that either the government or any of us can claim ownership of the organisation.

Indeed, while the move to ensure more transparency and make the players come under the WADA-specified anti-doping rules should be welcomed, the government should learn from its various misadventures with the other sporting organisations around the country to realise that it just isn’t equipped to handle an organisation as big as the BCCI.

Technically, BCCI must not be forced to be a National Sports Federation unless it willingly wants to. Arko Datta/Reuters

So, why does the government want to bring the BCCI under their control? Surely, money is a big part of that argument. No other sports federation in the country even comes close to generating the kind of revenue that the BCCI generates. And that isn’t going to change over the next decade or even more.

For starters, shouldn’t they be more concerned about the sports that have been systematically destroyed in the last two decades? Hockey, athletics, football and other sports organisations that receive regular grants from the government have stagnated so much that India cannot even consider itself world class in any of those disciplines any more.

Technically, BCCI must not be forced to be a National Sports Federation unless it willingly wants to. We may think of them as corrupt and politically motivated but they haven’t given the government a reason to step in.

The new Bill proposes a 23-member advisory council comprising members from the government and sports federations. The panel will advise the Centre on recognising and de-recognising sports federations as well as on matters of strategy.

Among other things, the bill reserves at least 25 percent posts in federations for former players, which means that ex-cricketers will get more play in the affairs of the BCCI, at the expense of politicians.

But given the mess that Hockey India is finding itself in, one can’t be sure that it is the best way to go. Not all former players make good administrators.

It also puts a 70-year age bar for all administrators and limits appointments to only two consecutive terms.

Around 44 sports federations except BCCI and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have agreed to accept the age bar and other terms of appointment.

Just a few months back in June, Union sports minister Ajay Maken had praised the BCCI for good governance.

“The BCCI is following the basic principles of good governance,” said Maken, who has drafted the sports bill. “The BCCI is following all the guidelines that we have set in the bill. All the national NSFs should follow how BCCI is governed. In fact, they are a step ahead...”

And yet, Maken wants to put a spanner in their works and destroy their way of working. Sure, we’d like the BCCI to do many things even better but that doesn’t mean that their level of functioning is as low as the IOA or some of the other sports organisations in the country. Maken’s intentions are good but he needs to realise that reform should be brought only where it is truly needed and for the moment, the BCCI doesn’t fit that bill.

In fact, rather than try and get more federations on their plate, the government should delegate and off-load even the organisations that they already managed. Make them professional, have a CEO to deal with the needs of the organisation, let them be transparent and watch the tide start to change. Organisations like Olympic Gold Quest and the Mittal Champions Trust have shown that it can work, the government need to follow suit.

Watch video: The Bill proposes not just to get bodies like the BCCI under the RTI but also make it mandatory for cricketers to take dope tests.

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