There is an uneasy hush over Indian hockey, the national sport which has given India eight Olympic golds, one World Cup, Asian Games golds and a standing in the World which may not be gold standard at the moment, but potential wise a skill-set few can match.
Yet, a shadow looms large.
No one is saying anything. Everything — according to those who control the game in India and those who aspire to control but cannot succeed — seems to be sub-judice.
But it was not like that even a month ago. Everyone was talking about the game and India’s medal hopes at 2021 Tokyo. Players trained and during the pandemic brushed up their English.
And then, everyone fell silent.
How it started
It all happened after a retired hockey star, who played for India on a $5 daily allowance and helped the nation win its last World Cup in 1975, challenged the continuation of Narinder Dhruv Batra as a life member of Hockey India and Elena Norman as its CEO. It is seen as the proverbial David versus Goliath fight.
Hockey India, with a turnover of over Rs 110 crore, is an important sports body. In addition, Batra holds the reins to IOA, a very powerful umbrella organisation that controls Indian sports.
The Delhi High Court, taking cognisance of the note, has asked both the Sports Ministry and Hockey India to file a response on a plea filed by World Cup winner Aslam Sher Khan, who has also asked why Norman should have voting rights in Hockey India. The response from the Ministry, Hockey India, Batra and Norman must come by September 28, the next date of hearing.
In his petition, a copy of which is with MoneyControl, Khan —a two-time Congress MP and a former Union minister — has cited alleged violations of sections of the National Sports Development Code of India (NSDCI) to seek immediate dismissal of Batra and Norman.
He has also sought the appointment of an independent administrator or an ad-hoc body to run the day-to-day affairs of the federation until the time its Memorandum of Association (MOA) is amended as per the NSDCI. He has argued in his petition that there is no provision for a life member in the NSDCI, which accords voting rights to only members of associations from States or Union Territories.