The rot seems to start right from the apex body of disability sports, the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). The PCI is headed by the president Ratan Singh whose son Amar Singh is the vice-president. Amar Singh’s son, Raghavendra Singh is an escort or so-called professional masseuse for disabled sports teams. He is too young with no professional qualification to be a sports masseur. Yet, he gets selected, despite qualified persons in sports medicine with professional training in sports massage being available, says a disabled sportsperson on conditions of anonymity. Sportspersons are scared of speaking out against the office bearers who have a vice-like grip over their sporting careers, a threat they seem to use to good effect in keeping them from protesting.
When contacted, Ratan Singh admitted to the problem of office bearers signing up as escorts and managers. “Office bearers accompany teams as they can sort out any problem easily. I can do little about this. But as you can see, my son and I are not signed up for any team. My grandson is there for being a qualified masseuse. I did not make the selection,” said Singh.
Every single office bearer of PCI has listed himself as manager or escort with various teams accompanying them to countries like the US, Germany, Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia, Spain and so on. KR Shankar Iyer, the treasurer of PCI, is listed as an escort for the athletics and volleyball teams and manager for the wheelchair fencing team. CV Raghunath,
administrator of PCI, is listed as an escort for athletics, volleyball and the powerlifting teams. M Mahadev, the secretary of the PCI, is listed to accompany the athletics and volleyball teams.
The office bearers of national federations for each sport do what is done in PCI, which is to list themselves as escorts and managers or appoint themselves as the coach and take their wives along as escorts. Quite understandably, these so-called coaches, managers and escorts are of little help to the disabled sportspeople when they go abroad as they are allegedly too busy on jaunts and sightseeing with their wives and friends who accompany them as team escorts. Each so-called national federation is single-city based, filled with people from the same city and no national representation. For instance, powerlifting is run from Nagpur, swimming from Gwalior and athletics from Bangalore. The PCI, the overarching national body for all disability sports is controlled by a bunch of people in Bangalore.
The selection of sportspersons from all over the country for different sports is decided by small coteries of people of one city and allegations of irregularities in selection are common. It is the sportspersons who suffer the consequences of such mismanagement. Last month, the athletics team that was supposed to be in Germany for an international meet could not go as those responsible did not apply for the visa in time.
Most teams don’t even have basic sports equipment such as the swimming team not have approved swimming costumes or the table tennis team does not have wheelchairs.
Despite these malpractices being pretty obvious in the team lists for each sport submitted by PCI to the ministry as Long Term Development Plan 2010, the sports ministry seems oblivious to it and the allocation to these federations has been rising steadily every year going from about Rs 10 lakh in 2005 to over Rs 5 crore in 2010.
(Source: Long Term Development Plan 2010 submitted by PCI to sports ministry)
List of office bearers of various sports
- Raghavendra Singh, escort: Grandson of PCI president, Ratan Singh and son of Amar Singh, PCI vice-president
- M Mahadev, team manager: Secretary of PCI
- David Premnath, coach: General secretary of Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India
- CV Raghunath, escort: Administrator of PCI
- Diana Joyline D’Souza, escort: Was personal secretary to PCI president
- KR Shankar, escort: Treasurer of PCI
- VK Dabas, coach: Secretary of Paralympic Swimming Federation of India, also runs Paralympic Committee of Madhya Pradesh
- Saroj Dabas, escort: Wife of VK Dabas
- Suresh Kalra, escort: President of PSFI
- Lalit Gupta, escort: Vice-president of PSFI
- H Chandrashekar, cpach: Secretary of Volleyball Federation
- M Mahadev, escort: Secretary of PCI
- Chandrashekar, escort: Joint secretary of PCI
KR Shankar Iyer, manager: Treasurer of PCI
- Vijay B Munishwar, coach: President of Paralympic Powerlifting Federation and also runs Maharashtra State Paralympic Association
- Deepali Munishwar, escort: Wife of Munishwar
- CV Raghunath, escort: Administrator of PCI
- R Murali, coach: Secretary of Paralympic TT Federation
- Gopal Babu, escort: Member of executive committee, PTTFI
- Shashikala Babu, escort: Wife of Gopal Babu
- Satyanarayana, manager: President of PTTFI