The role of politicians in the controversy surrounding the selection of tennis players for London Olympics has not been debated much. The debate has been mostly about players and AITA.
AITA selectors picked Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati for menâ€™s doubles. Mahesh refused. He should have been banned for life for refusing to play for India and asked to refund the amount spent on him. That would have sent a message to all players that AITA will not tolerate players dictating terms to AITA. AITA did not do that. They selected Rohan Bopanna. Rohan also refused. Mahesh and Rohan wanted to play as a pair and said two teams could be sent.
AITA wanted to send one team because there are no two teams. There are three top doubles players. Leander being No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 player had to play with him. Since Mahesh and Rohan both refused AITA wanted to drop them and select someone else to play with Leander.
At this time sports minister Ajay Maken interfered and took the side of Mahesh and Bopanna. AITA officials met Ajay. They should have been clear that they will not send two teams. Instead they presented five options one of them being sending two teams. Ajay justified his interference saying government gives money to AITA. Then he said AITA will decide. Then S. M. Krishna, external affairs minister and honorary president of AITA, interfered.
Leander said he would withdraw if Mahesh and Bhupati are sent as a pair but pair with Vishnu Vardhan if they are the only pair. On 20/6/2012 around 11 p.m. Anil Khanna, president of AITA, said only one team will be sent and Leander being the best will play.
Something changed after that. Next day Anil Khanna said two menâ€™s doubles teams will be sent and Leander will partner Sania Mirza if she got wild card. Leander wanted written commitment from Sania that she will partner him. He was not happy about two teams and did not confirm participation.
Political pressure made AITA change its decision. Anil Khanna should resign as president. Selectors should resign. The country is greater than Olympic medals. No tennis player or team should be sent to Olympics.
It is unfair on the part of some former Olympians to ask present athletes to boycott London Olympics because of Dow sponsorship. Former Olympians lose nothing. The athletes have practiced for three and half years. As per one estimate 111 crore rupees are spent.
Dow continues to do business in India. There is no demand to stop Dow doing business in India. Lawyers belonging to political parties have represented Dow. IOC has said Dow will remain as sponsor.
China and Pakistan are in illegal occupation of Indian territory. India has sporting ties with both countries. India took part in Olympics and Asian Games in China. Pakistan has sponsored terrorism against India.
It is meaningless to collect signatures for boycott of Olympics and give them to IOA. The government decides on boycott. It is a political decision.
Ajay Maken has written twice to IOA about Dow. How much support he has in the cabinet? He could not get Sports Bill approved by cabinet. IOA decided to participate in Olympics and write a strong letter to IOC to protest Dow sponsorship. IOA derives its power from IOC and has used IOC in its fight against government or sports minister.
Those who feel strongly about Dow should ask for its expulsion from India. No one has asked lawyers who defend Dow to give up their briefs.
Dow is a sponsor of London Olympics. Some people want India to boycott London Olympics if Dow continues to be the sponsor because Dow bought Union Carbide which was responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984. IOC has said Dow is not responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy and Dow sponsorship for Olympics will continue till 2020.
India has not boycotted Olympics any time. In 1980 USA and many countries boycotted Moscow Olympics. In 1984 USSR and some countries boycotted Los Angeles Olympics. In 1976, 22 African countries boycotted Montreal Olympics.
In 1974 India refused to play South Africa in Davis Cup final due to South Africaâ€™s apartheid policy. In 1986 India boycotted Commonwealth Games in UK because UK had refused to put sanctions against South Africa. In 1974 Italy had refused to play South Africa in Davis Cup semi-final. In 1986 Nigeria, Kenya and many other countries had boycotted Commonwealth Games.
If India boycotts London Olympics due to Dow sponsorship it is likely to be alone. In 2008 India won one gold medal and two bronze medals in Beijing Olympics. Indiaâ€™s participation or absence will not make much difference to London Olympics. Besides, India will have to boycott Olympics in 2016 and 2020.
The victims of Bhopal gas tragedy should have been left to pursue cases of compensation in American courts where the compensation amounts could have been higher. The victims did not have to pay the lawyers if they did not win the cases and if they won they had to pay a percentage of compensation amounts as fees. The Government of India bungled by taking up all cases and clubbed them together and they were fought in India. Then the Supreme Court should have left the cases to proceed. Instead in February 1989 it got into arbitration and fixed the compensation amount at 470 million dollars and all civil and criminal liabilities were waived off. Those who did not want arbitration kept quiet after the emotional outburst of the CJI. The compensation should have been to victims alone but all residents of Bhopal got compensation thus diluting the claim of victims.
It is a different matter that after some years criminal liabilities were brought back and some Union Carbide officials were prosecuted and found guilty. That raises the question of finality of Supreme Court judgment. If liabilities waived off by Supreme Court are restored after some years where is the certainty of the closure?
There is a question of genuineness of protests on 3/12/2011. Some leaders had used a manual and a video to train protesters. The training was for over a month.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken has written to IOA to take up the matter of Dow sponsorship with IOC. There is no love lost between Ajay Maken and IOA. IOA derives its powers from IOC and has used it to fight against the government.
Milkha Singh and some other people want Indian athletes to participate in London Olympics. Boycott means many athletes will miss the chance of a lifetime to participate in Olympics and win a medal. If Bhopal victims did not get justice it is not entirely due to Union Carbide.