Another exercise of chasing a chimera is on. The dismay over the deplorable show by the hockey team in the Olympics is being deflected for the umpteenth time to a committee that is expected to solve the tangle of governance.
The Indian Olympic Association, which authored this mess in 2008, now comes up with a three-member commission to determine who among the claimants — Hockey India or Indian Hockey Federation — will administer the sport.
To go back to the genesis of the crisis is a painful exercise. If K.P.S. Gill and his associates were guilty of failure in India not retaining its Olympic spot and deserved to be replaced, the scenario now is no less different.
The IOA, then under the command of Suresh Kalmadi, invoked the vague clause “disrepute to the game,” and disaffiliated the IHF. It constituted an ad hoc body, and then created Hockey India, fully aware of its legal and constitutional infirmities. The IOA hoped it would brazen it out with the opposition that cried foul of ignoring the canons of democracy. The Delhi High Court ruled against the disaffiliation.
It is difficult to imagine that the IOA, which has a slew of problems to solve, will disband Hockey India for the inglorious London campaign. Such recourse will receive spontaneous approbation. Hockey India’s record of administration is nothing to speak of with any degree of eloquence.
Tragically perhaps the International Hockey Federation, misled and misinformed, acted in haste.
Unable to retract, it ventured into a cover-up mode, raising various issues with the IHF over the failure of the merger from 2000 but continued dealing with the same office-bearers till 2008. How the three-member commission will untangle the imbroglio is a million-dollar question. All previous efforts, including that by the Sports Ministry, met with a dead-end after generating hopes of an accord.
What probably prompts the FIH to direct the IOA for a final decision could be related to India’s commitment to hosting the World Series League. If the FIH believes that a solution will be on the table on August 31, it is hovering in illusions.
A quick-fix remedy to a problem that has eaten away the vitals of Indian hockey for four years is unlikely to be found on one day (August 21).
The three-member commission may have no option but to recommend another ad hoc panel. If pushed to that edge, the IOA-team should keep the officials from both factions out of such a panel. The IOA can even think of forming an advisory committee enlisting members from outside its ambit, inviting senior lawyers and industrialists who share a love for hockey, to end this endemic national malaise. IOA’s urgency underlines a hint of desperation. Is it not time for the factions to realise the damage they have done to the national sport? They will earn the gratitude of all if a formula, embracing the frame-work of democracy, is framed and implemented quickly to extinguish the flames of acrimony, mistrust and egoism.