The ministry of youth affairs and sports seems to be in a state of inertia. At least, that is the impression one would get by going through its own website, where the process of granting annual recognition for National Sports Federations has not happened for 2020.
It is well known, the NSFs, as federations are known, need to get an annual recognition certificate. The importance of this recognition, for 56 NSFs as of December 2019, according to the official website, is manifold.
The recognition gives the federations the power to act as a controller for the sport, however small or big it may be. In recent times, NSFs have had to be on their toes for various matters from getting clearance to hosting national and international events to sending teams abroad for training, exposure and competitions.
Of course, because of COVID-19 and national lockdown, sporting activity has come to a complete standstill in India. Yet, one is not sure why the sports ministry has not been able to give the annual accreditation four months into this year.
This was the year the Tokyo Olympics were supposed to take place but got postponed. It means, prior to the lockdown and postponement of the Games, the federations would have wanted the recognition certificate to continue with their normal activities.
Even now, during the lockdown, there have been interactions between the sports ministry, Sports Authority of India, NSFs and the IOA, via video conferencing. While no federation will dare to ask the sports ministry why this process of certification has been delayed, other matters have been taken up.
For example, the sports ministry was communicating with the All India Tennis Association and wanted the post of life presidents to be abolished. That has been done by the AITA.
The ministry has also held meetings with federations on the ACTC (annual training and competition) schedule, though now everything is in a state of limbo.
Amidst all this, there is a federation which has flouted all rules and still enjoys support from the government, the Equestrian Federation of India. The EFI has not followed the national sports code 2011, and was still in the ‘recognised’ list till December 2019. In addition, the EFI was also given time till March 31, 2020 to continue to function on an explicit condition they will come up with a roadmap for the future and also amend their own constitution.
True to its laid back attitude, the EFI has done nothing to move forward and submitted no blueprint for the future. It is a federation which does not even support its own athlete, Fouaad Mirza, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
In addition, the EFI not enjoys recognition from the Indian Olympic Association since 2019 only as an associate member.
Recently, rider Col Rajesh Pattu, an Arjuna Awardee who has also played an important role in rallying behind the rise of state units of the EFI, has questioned the EFI. “What happened to the roadmap which was supposed to be submitted to sports ministry? What happened to the EFI policy on import of horses?,” Pattu wrote to the EFI, with a copy marked to the sports ministry.
If EFI has got fulsome support from the sports ministry for doing nothing, the Rowing Federation of India finds itself in distress. The sports ministry had raised objections on the RFI constitution which was later amended. Subsequently, in February 2020, the RFI held its election in Hyderabad.
Despite the IOA observor also submitting its report on the RFI elections, they have not got back their recognition from the sports ministry. The RFI has also not received funds due to it from the SAI for events it conducted last year.
NSFs that Mail Today spoke to are concerned about the inordinate delay. “We are almost five months into the new year. This is baffling,” they said.