Dec 20, 2008

India - Babus paid more than athletes in Beijing Olympics

Eklavya Atray

NEW DELHI: Indian athletes may have brought home the country’s maiden gold and two bronze medals from the Olympics, but it was the bureaucrats and politicians accompanying them who were paid more by the government during their stay in Beijing.

In a reply to a query filed by DNA under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Union youth affairs and sports ministry said that while athletes and coaches were paid $50 each as daily pocket allowance, the babus and netas who went to Beijing as part of the official delegation received $75 a day.

The pocket allowance was over and above the spending on boarding and lodging. For the sports contingent these expenses were taken care of by the Beijing Olympic Committee while for the delegation, they were borne by the Indian embassy.

Among the people who received $75 a day were minister of state for youth affairs and sports MS Gill and Lok Sabha members Vijay Bahuguna and Krishna Tirath. The other members of the official delegation were Rajya Sabha member Bhubaneshwar Kalita and several bureaucrats, including sports secretary Sudhir Nath, two joint secretaries, and Sports Authority of India director-general Sayan Chatterjee.

The ministry said Rs12.19 lakh was spent on the travel of the 13 bureaucrats and politicians and arrangements for their lodging and boarding were made by the Indian embassy at Beijing.

“We used to get an allowance of $50 a day, which is hardly anything hardly gets a few decent meals in it. The problem is much worse at the Asiad, where players get no allowance,” said Commonwealth boxer Virender Singh said.

Asiad medal-winning runner Bharat Kumar, said, “ If only players could get better allowances, they may change their lifestyle a little.”

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