Promising change for the better, CoA takes baffling calls

Visualise a former decathlete chairing the meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selection meeting. Now, imagine a former secretary of the Badminton Association of India attending this meeting as an observer. If it appears contrary to reason or common sense, it indeed is.

Quite shockingly, all the above is true in the case of the Table Tennis Federation of India’s new selection committee that meets to choose the Indian squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games on Monday.

Delhi-based former decathlete Surinder Dev Mudgil is the chairman and ex-shuttler Anup Narang, the observer. Mudgil is also one of the three members of the Delhi High Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) that took over from the suspended office-bearers of the TTFI on Feb. 18.

In fact, he is also the chairman of the junior selection committee. For the record, former players S. Ramaswamy, N.R. Indu, Rajat Kathuria and Archana Viswanath came into the committee that previously included Arjuna Awardees Manjit Dua, Mantu Ghosh and Dronacharya Awardee Sandeep Gupta.

Significantly, in its judgement of Feb. 11, 2022, the court said, “A person appointed as the National coach by such federation cannot and ought not to be permitted to simultaneously run his personal academy. A conflict of this nature has to be avoided. Our sportspersons surely deserve better.”

With this being the directive, the CoA’s decision to send noted coach S. Raman as coach/manager of the Indian teams to Commonwealth Games has come under scrutiny.

Raman, coach of G. Sathiyan, runs the Raman TT High Performance Centre in Chennai and hence the CoA’s decision appears in direct conflict with the above observation of the court.

Another interesting point to note is, that the annual honorarium of the three members of the CoA and the manager, as fixed by the court, is more than the total prize-money at stake during the 2021-22 domestic season.

As per the court’s directive, the CoA is entitled to ₹5 lakh, including ₹3 lakh to the chairperson, per month. In addition, the manager’s remuneration is fixed at ₹50,000 per month. This takes the total expenditure to ₹66 lakh per year.

In comparison, the prize-money for the 2021-22 season, spread over four ranking tournaments and three National championships, comes to around ₹55 lakh!

No wonder, the country’s TT fraternity is at a loss for words, like never before.

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