Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

Jagmohan Dalmiya To Praful Patel, Meet India's Longest Serving Sports Administrators

Jagmohan Dalmiya To Praful Patel, Meet India's Longest Serving Sports Administrators

A recent Supreme Court ruling in a pending BCCI plea has paved the way for Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah to continue as BCCI president and secretary respectively. But Indian sport, for the better or the worse, has had no dearth of administrators clinging to their chairs.

Praful Patel stepped down as AIFF boss after the SC handed the daily activities to the CoA.
Praful Patel stepped down as AIFF boss after the SC handed the daily activities to the CoA. Twitter (@IndianFootball)

From dissolving the All India Football Federation, CoA to declaring that it will appoint a neutral person to run the Indian Olympic Association, the Supreme Court of India has sometimes played an important role in the administration of the country’s sporting bodies over the years. Now, apex court has allowed the cricket board of the country to amend its constitution to modify the mandatory three-year cooling off rule for its officials. (More Sports News)

Responding to a pending plea by the BCCI, the court ordered that any administrator can stay in office for two consecutive terms of three years each – both at BCCI and state associations – following which the cooling-off period comes into effect.

The SC ruling has paved the way for former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah to continue as BCCI president and secretary, respectively. After holding state association posts, Shah and Ganguly assumed office in 2019. Since then, the duo have been awaiting the SC order iin the pending BCCI plea.

As Shah and Ganguly prepare to start their second innings as BCCI administrators, and even though a surprise may be in store at the BCCI AGM on October 18, let’s take a look at some of the longest-serving sports administrators the country has had.

Randhir Singh

A top-level shooter during his playing days, Randhir Singh was a secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) from 1987 to 2012 and the Olympic Council of Asia from 1991 to 2015, He also served as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 2001 to 2014 and was influential in bringing the Commonwealth Games to New Delhi in 2010. An Arjuna awardee in 1979, Singh competed in five Olympic Games from 1968 to 1984 and became the first Indian shooter to win an Asian Games gold in 1978. Singh is currently the acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) after beginning his term in 2021 following a court ruling against former president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah.

Praful Patel

The aviation scam accused Praful Patel controversially held on to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) top post from 2009 till 2022. During Patel’s tenure, some events did come India's way. But there were constant controversies. India hosted the FIFA U-17 Men’s World Cup in 2017 and bagged the hosting rights of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup which is scheduled for next month. However, Patel stepped down as AIFF boss after the Supreme Court handed the daily activities to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) earlier this year.

Suresh Kalmadi

Suresh Kalmadi is another example of politicians ruling over an Indian sporting body for more than a decade. A former railway minister, Kalmadi was the president of the Indian Olympic Association from 1996 to 2011 until the New Delhi Commonwealth Games controversy broke out. Kalmadi is alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices in relation to 2010 CWG during his tenure as IOA chief and chairman of CWG 2010, and spent 10 months in jail. Kalmadi also served as Asian Athletics Association president from 2000 to 2013.

Jagmohan Dalmiya

Jagmohan Dalmiya changed the face of Indian cricket globally. A cricketer during his growing up years, Dalmiya was regarded as one of the top sports administrators in the country, serving as president at the Cricket Association of Bengal, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and International Cricket Council. Not only did Dalmiya lead from the front but was also instrumental in making the BCCI the richest cricket board in the world currently. Dalmiya served as CAB president from 1992 to 2006 and then from 2008 to 2015. He entered the BCCI in 1979 as a CAB representative and went on to become the treasurer four years later. He became the BCCI boss in 2001 for a term of three years and returned at the helm on two more occasions (in 2013 and 2015). During his time at BCCI, Dalmiya played a big part in bringing the World Cup (1987) outside England for the first time and paved the way for the rotation system for hosting the tournament. Dalmiya became the first Asian and the first non-cricketer to be an ICC president in 1997 and was instrumental in awarding Bangladesh Test status in 2000.

RK Khanna-Anil Khanna

The Khannas ruled Indian tennis for decades. It all started with Raj Kumar Khanna, who was the non-playing captain of the Indian team when it reached the Devis Cup finals in 1966. His association with AITA began the same year as the secretary and continued till 1974 before re-entering into the same capacity for four years in 1988. He became the AITA president for eight years from 1992 till 2000. The RK Khanna stadium in New Delhi is testimony to the somewhat surprising Indian tradition of naming sports venues after administrators and politicians rather than players. In another tradition of sports in our country, his son Anil Khanna served as AITA secretary for two consecutive four-year terms before being elected as the president in 2012. Anil is currently the vice president of AITA.


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