In carrying on with its one-point agenda of humiliating flamboyant shuttler G. Jwala, the Badminton Association of India has clearly cut off its nose to spite its face. Acting in a brazenly autocratic and undemocratic manner, the BAI is contemplating a life ban on the doubles specialist for arguing with officials and delaying a tie in the Indian Badminton League in August. A life ban in sport is generally reserved for very grave offences. And what Jwala did as captain of her team was in no way against the spirit of fair play. The chairman of the BAI Disciplinary Committee has said the idea of proposing a life ban was to make Jwala feel apologetic for her defiant stand. Thereafter, the BAI went ahead and prevented her from playing for a month pending the verdict of a newly formed three-member committee. A day before Jwala received relief from the BAI directive following a Delhi High Court order, the national body dramatically withdrew her entry from the Denmark Open. This clandestine move has clearly exposed the BAI’s intent. Many coaches and players have privately voiced their fears, pointing to the dictatorial manner in which badminton is being run in the country. The move to deny Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa a comeback in the Denmark Open has only reinforced growing apprehensions over the complete lack of integrity and transparency in the way the BAI functions.
If indeed Jwala had committed a series of offences that warranted nothing less than a life ban, why did the Disciplinary Committee, in the same breath, suggest that an apology to the BAI President could exonerate her? Surely, a word of apology cannot offset the damage caused by serious wrongdoing, if committed. The contradiction and the intention are glaringly obvious. In today’s world, where players’ associations run professional disciplines like golf and tennis, a dictatorial attitude on the part of officials cannot be allowed to ruin the careers of players. In this case, besides Jwala, her doubles partner is also being made to suffer. The two made India proud by winning medals in the World championship and Commonwealth Games. If a sports body can deal with celebrity players in such a blatantly vindictive manner, the fate of lesser players is not hard to visualise. It is in the interest of Indian badminton and indeed sports in India that either the Sports Ministry or the judiciary intervenes decisively in the matter. So glaring is the injustice being perpetrated by the BAI that the silence of the Sports Minister is baffling, as is the indifference shown by other mature sports administrators and personalities in the country.