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Sports Minister of India for a day. Would you be the 'Nayak' of Indian sports?


What would you do if you were the Sports Minister for a day?

“Agar tumhari tarah Mahatma Gandhi ghar pe baith gaye hote, bacha bacha biwi biwi karte, to aaj bhi tum kisi angrez ke ghar meing latrine saaf karte hote.” (If Mahatma Gandhi would have sat idly at home, caring about just his wife and kids, we would still be clearing toilets of some Englishman.)

“Agar Thomas Edison ghar pe baitha hota to aaj kya hamare paas electicity hoti?” (If Thomas Edison sat idly at home, would we have got electricity today?)

“Agar Graham Bell ne ghar nahin choda hota to aaj kya hum phone be baat kar sakte?” (If Graham Bell wouldn’t have left home, could we have talked on phone today?)

Insert the disc of ‘Nayak: The real hero (2001)’, where Anil Kapoor becomes minister for a day and takes all the corrupt politicians to task (read: every politician). Recall the iconic scene where he rolls in mud and then in matrix style, unleashes karate chops on everyone. Or the iconic scene where he metaphorically pulls down the pants of a corrupt politician and fires one and all like an arsonist. The entire film is full of iconic scenes of comeuppance where the common man gets his own way and topples the administration.

With the recent fiascos in the Indian sports, it seems that the need of the hour is the Nayak to come from reel to real life.

Cue lights. Enter me as Maha Nayak (minus gorilla chest hair).

If I were the sports minister for one day, I would ensure that talent gets its due recognition and is not downtrodden. Too many stories abound of athletes who could have won laurels for our country or have won honours but are not in a position to maximize their potential or receive their due.

I would work to root out the notion that physically, our country is inferior to any other. That Asians are more flexible, Europeans are stronger, and Africans faster; it’s all in the mind and has to be rooted out.

I would make it mandatory for sports administrators to actively pursue the sport which they administer; not just to get them in touch with the athletes and walk in their shoes, but to develop a healthy lifestyle which would centre their hobby around their profession. If you’re passionate about something, you tend to give your all to it. Administering sports shouldn’t just be a day job, it should be a dream job.

But enough of what I would do. Yesterday, we asked you what would you do if you were the sports minister of India for a day. The replies were thoughtful and forward looking. Personally, I can rattle off a list of things I would like to make happen as a sports minister, but wouldn’t know how to achieve those targets. These suggestions explore the how: https://www.facebook.com/India.Olympics/posts/567370713280295

Here are some of them analyzed and rated:

Kick out current authorities and appoint army officers/sports professionals

True Nayak this is. Kick ‘em out! Not just kick them out, appoint army officers to take their place. While the kicking out seems a bit radical, it is what is happening with our sports federations. IOA’s suspension was followed by the Archery association of India and the Boxing federation being suspended. And now the Athletics Federation of India in the cross-hair. Abhinav Bindra endorses this, saying that it makes room for better administration. Maybe a whitewash of the current office is what is needed. And who better to fill their shoes than those who have had first hand experience of the sport, the former athletes.

 Nayak Level: Mud covered Mahaveer

Privatization

Government bodies mostly operate for the welfare of the people. Their goals and funding are oriented around that. The private sector ushers in development at a crazy fast pace because they operate from the motive of profit. Sustainable long term profit that is. No one would dispute that some of our sports federations operate to make profit for themselves. Private sector is more far sighted and looks to build something which can pay dividends in the long term.

Remember what happened with the New Economic Policy of 1991? It was like a fresh awakening for Indian economy. The same is needed for sports.

 Nayak Level: Sudden epiphany

Separate sports organizations from politics

The reason the Boxing federation has been suspended is because of its link with Chautala. Politicians sometimes bring baggage with them which weighs down the sports federations. A separation will be healthy and radical because a lot of those who come to power in federations are usually those with power in politics, and merit is sometimes overlooked. We need to create a healthy distance between sports and politics to move forward.

 Nayak level: Public exposure

Eliminate corruption

Straight up Mahanayak! Eliminate corruption. Chop off corruption in one fell swoop. The best way to do that is to go to the office and one by one, kick out anyone with a bad record. It is an extreme step, as it ignores the concept that people can reform. But elimination of corruption is required urgently.

 Nayak Level: Two Mud covered Mahaveers

To hell with cricket!

High-five brothers! The anti cricket sentiment I’ve explored to the depths before:

25 reasons basketball is more fun that cricket

Stop playing cricket/football on basketball courts

Anti-cricket sentiment is popular because it’s the same as having your plate full of roties and no sabji. There’s only so much of roties we need. We’ve got to have some balance.

Moving away from metaphors, cricket seems to have saturated the market in India. A 10-second ad slot in the IPL costs over 4 lacs. And there are easily over 30 sponsors for IPL. The entry barrier for sponsors is pretty high. In a recent survey, it was shown that companies prefer to use sports for marketing their products. With cricket hogging the market for decades now, the stage is open for other sports to get investments, provided sponsors broaden their horizons and look at other sports as something worth investing in.

 Nayak level: Three Mud covered Mahaveers

Build more sports academies and fund the deserving athletes

The one way to develop talent is to recognise it at an early age and nurture it through a systematic manner which can be provided by sports academies. Not a very radical step, albeit a practical one. The major constraint in its way is lack of funds.

A few months ago, for the Olympics, a couple of runners from India had made it to the qualifiers but needed Rs. 30,000 to make the trip abroad. The amount could not be raised. Compare Rs. 30,000 with the astronomical amount it would take to fund an academy. This step requires a lot of money to be invested in a proper manner.

 Nayak Level: Forward looking investigative journalist

Development at the school level

A number of suggestions were given for development at the earliest level – introducing marks for Sports, making it mandatory to have a sports curriculum in schools and making it compulsory for kids to pass in that subject. This step is geared towards lifting the status of sports, to bring proficiency in sports to the same status as a bachelor or masters degree.

Making sports education compulsory is something which is being worked on and planned in the next five year period. We are moving towards making sports education compulsory at school level. And an increasing number of colleges are introducing sports quota for admission.

Carrot and stick, Pavlov and his whistle; encourage kids from a young age towards pursuing sports and reward them for their accomplishments. If started early, it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to train kids for pursuing excellence in sports. The day this is implemented, it will bring about a radical change in how sports are perceived.

 Nayak level: Mud covered Mahanayak

Build world class stadiums in metros

Lack of world class facilities is something lamented by Sachin Tendulkar as well. In his letter to Kapil Sibal, Sachin has mentioned this as a need of the hour, to develop world class facilities in certain pockets of India. More on it here.

 Nayak level: Climbing up between two buses by slapping them, because to hell with Physics.

Federation head should have been a sportsperson

Indeed. “Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad?” This is not absolutely necessary though, you don’t need to know how a car’s engine functions in order to learn to drive one.

 Nayak level: Asking “Aur bataiye sir, aapke upar kitne aarop laagu hai?” (So how many cases are pending against you, Sir?)

Sack myself

If I were responsible for this sorry state of affairs, I’d sack myself.

 Nayak level: Abandon ship

If you think about it, all the suggestions being made above are being implemented at some level or another. Education and sports are going hand in hand, shady federations are being given the axe and better facilities are cropping up. It’s just that all this is happening too slow.

What wouldn’t we give for one day of a Nayak as the sports minister?

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