28 February 2000 Sports Cover Story

Scotch, Cards And Indoor Cricket!

The DDCA spends more on intra-city travel than on the game it’s meant to promote
Scotch, Cards And Indoor Cricket!
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

It’s among Delhi’s most popular watering holes. A shot of gin costs Rs 36, a peg of Royal Challenge whisky would leave you poorer by just Rs 50, Scotch whisky is Rs 120, and a peg of premium Scotch goes for only Rs 140. Little wonder that the club’s bar sold liquor worth Rs 33 lakh in 1998-99. And cigarettes too, for Rs 3.5 lakh. The club members enjoy a game of cards in the afternoon as well. To take care of that, the club bought playing cards for Rs 1.4 lakh during the year.

Now, take a guess which club we are talking about? The Delhi Gymkhana, or is it the India International Centre? Well, actually it’s the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), a company set up in February 1936, to promote the game of cricket in Delhi. So let’s look at how much the game is being promoted in Delhi. For some strange reason, the DDCA seems to run up coaching expenses only in alternate years and last year it spent the princely sum of Rs 20,700 on coaching Delhi’s budding cricketers. That’s less than the Rs 24,606 that the DDCA garnered by selling empty liquor and soft drink bottles. Then-after a gap of four years-it decided to spend another Rs 20,000 to "promote the game of cricket in Delhi". But obviously, if the association invested Rs 54,180 on the purchase of neck ties, it believed that this investment would show better returns. Such investment decisions probably need extensive consultations and discussions. That’s why various DDCA committees ran up a bill of Rs 48.7 lakh in meeting expenses. And then Delhi is a big city, and the various committee members need to be reimbursed the travel cost they incur as they go about promoting the game in Delhi; after all, they are all honorary members. That’s why DDCA officials spent Rs 1.33 lakh in intra-city travel. In fact, over the last nine years, the DDCA has spent 250 per cent more in travel than the total expenditures on promotion of cricket and coaching.

Why is it so bad? Well, the DDCA has 3,500 members on its rolls, out of which less than 100 have played first class cricket. Most of them are small-time businessmen, lawyers or housewives. And just anybody-recommended by a member-can join the DDCA. In fact, the current president, information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley, became a member only a year-and-a-half ago. Many members allege that there is widespread rigging of the annual executive committee elections-which incidentally have taken place only eight times in the last 16 years. This is done by misusing the proxy system. In fact, Outlook has in its possession two proxy forms signed by the same member-one of which is obviously a fake signature but is attested by the court-used during Jaitley’s election on December 31, 1999.

So, is the DDCA really a sports body? After all, the government recognises it as one and grants it several benefits. For instance, for the 15-acre Ferozeshah Kotla, which is taken on lease from the Land and Development Office, the DDCA pays an annual fee of less than Rs 28,000. The Delhi government could have utilised this prime space much better for the benefit of the citizens, rather than allowing the DDCA to make it one of Delhi’s most popular bars.

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