Is That Fair, Mr. Minister?

State Minister for Youth and Sports, Gopi Achhami was in news recently, for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, at an award function of Nepal National and International Players Association (NNIPA), Achhami was not given ‘due respect’. Mr. Minister was so miffed at the organizers that he chose to walk away without waiting for program to conclude.

Now the question would be: what made Mr. Minister so angry?

During the program, Mr. Minister was requested to come on the stage after a Nepali Olympian Bhupendra Silwal. That too, despite being named as the ‘chief guest’. Apparently, Achhami did not like the idea and did not budge from his seat despite repeated requests.

If you look at it, the organizers of the program also look at fault, for not following formal protocol. Chief guest is a person of honor and due honor should be given. For their part, organizers said that Silwal, along with Achhami was joint chief guest and the State Minister need to get angry about protocol. That may sound fair, but the certificates given out at the program only had State Minister’s name as chief guest. The program organizers should have been more careful there.

But if you look at the whole incident, you may chose to forgive the NNIPA, saying it was an error; a mistake; naivety, on their part. At the same time, several questions arise from State Minister Achhami’s reaction.

He was there to present an award, not to receive one. There is nothing wrong in expecting the person who gives to be gracious. That was definitely missing. Mr Minister, in his revenge to what he thought was an insult, humiliated the program, which essentially was to honor the players.

The program felicitated players from 17 separate sports fields. For that initiative itself, the error on the part of NNIPA could be forgiven. You would be tempted to ask how many awards do players receive from the state, the executive body of the country, the ministry that the junior minister was representing at the program? You might want to ask Achhami, if he was not State Minister for ‘Sports’, would he even be invited to be a chief guest of the program? How can you demean a sector that you are supposed to be guardian of?

In 2009, a group of students of Masters in Psychology at Tribhuvan University conducted a research in Sports, during the 5th National Games in Kathmandu. Although the research was not a path-breaking one, one finding that came out of it was interesting. That, most of the players were motivated to perform for social recognition.

Mr. Minister should know awards are just that; Social recognition, which somehow tries to compensate for the players’ financial status. We’ve seen umpteen cases, where a player, after falling sick, does not even have enough fund to get back to the arena again. The list could go longer than the length this column provides.

Not being given ‘due respect’, should be criticized. But we were not give that opportunity, as the State Minister decided to take it upon him to take revenge. Insult for insult; almost sounding like eye for an eye.

But, the program was not about who the chief guest is, but about who were receiving felicitation. The politician in Achhami should know, sometimes it is smart be second fiddle. For now, sport is his constituency and he’d rather not insult his own constituency.

And we might as well remind him, Bhupendra Silwal is one of the members of first Olympic team from Nepal. For that, sports fans will always respect and remember him. He was not a rookie, sharing stage with whom would have brought down Achhami’s status.

He may well remember, joy of medals is for the nation, while rallies after victory in elections are for the cadres. Yours truly would like to believe that the New Year brings a sense of responsibility for the likes of Mr. Minister.

(PS: The write-up appeared in YoursTruly’s weekly sports column – OFFSIDE – in The Kathmandu Post, on 21st April,2012)

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