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I don't really follow the Olympics, but it is difficult to miss stories when they are so shocking. The overwhelming perception of the Indian contingent all through the Olympics Games saga has been one of complete disinterest in sports performance. Here are some of the highlights off the top of my head.

Three out of four brand ambassadors for India had nothing to do with Olympic sports

Other than Abhinav Bindra (who, as India's only Olympics gold medalist till then couldn't really be avoided) India's brand ambassadors for the Olympics had absolutely nothing to do with Olympics sport. They are Salman Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and A R Rahman - for the record. They were apparently chosen to popularize Olympics among Indians. Though it is anyone's guess why any of the three would generate an interest in sports that they themselves didn't have any achievements in. If anything, it seemed like India was saying we don't have anyone notable in all these sports and if we are to sell enough ad spots for our pet media to make good profits, we'd better get selling faces on the screen.

Training funds diverted to election bound Assam

More than 100 crores from funds for training Olympics athletes were diverted toward hosting the SAF games in Assam as per the wish of BJP's CM candidate for Assam. The election was won, indeed, but the Olympics seems lost. The only medals so far appear to be from Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu - both established players and have long term dedicated coaches and whose training wouldn't be impacted as badly by whims in government spending. Contestants from less privileged backgrounds who had to struggle to reach the Olympics on the basis of sheer talent, notably didn't make it through. Dipa Karmakar lost by a fraction of a second. Could Lalita Babar (Indian Railways) or Dattu Bhokanal (Army), for example have a stronger showing if there had been more attention and spending toward getting them to peak performance?

Skewed priorities on who got sent to Rio

While we had all kinds of VIPs from Nita Ambani (how is she at all relevant to sport?) to random politicians and relatives parading as doctors gone to Rio in style and comfort, while the athletes who were supposed to deliver the results flew economy, had their supporting staff refused, etc. For example, it is only when Dipa Karmakar showed promise of winning a medal that her previously rejected physiotherapist was flown in to Rio in a hurry. It isn't like other athletes got their physiotherapists there either. Saina Nehwal, for example, sustained an injury to her knee in the run up to the Olympics. She had been injured 10 days before her match and as per her coach, had been given a dexamethasone injection after consulting IOC doctors at the clinic in the Olympic village on the day of the match, to bring down swelling and pain. It is unclear what other specialized treatment was available to her. Her injury worsened during her game and she had to bow out and be hospitalized on return to India. Would our contingent having adequate support staff have improved her prospects? It is anyone's guess.

Lack of sincerity among those inexplicable ones who went to Rio

Anil Vij, Haryana minister had gone to Rio for some obscure reason like observing sports with players from his state or some such. Once there, he didn't actually attend the events where players from Haryana competed. Sports Minister Vijay Goel brought embarrassment to India with his behavior. Whether it was endless selfies with exhausted contestants or angering Olympics officials with disregard for protocol when those accompanying him entered accredited areas without authority and got aggressive when confronted. If he had showed half the attention to his tweets wishing Indian players before their events, a lot of embarrassment would have been avoided as he merrily misspelled names, tweeted out images wishing sports people with his own photo featured prominently on them, used wrong photos or simply wished contestants the best heaping insult on injury after they had already contested (and not won). The radiologist son of the Vice President of the Indian Olympic Association is serving as the medical officer to our contingent. That is right. Our delegation to the freaking OLYMPICS doesn't merit a sports medicine expert, though there is no shortage of Page 3 paisawalas and bureaucrats and assorted opportunists.

Negligent preparations

Our boxing participants almost got disqualified because their vests did not have their country - India printed on them. The kits were replaced and there were no disqualifications and the coach dismissed it as a minor issue, but it seems rather stunning that our boxers arrived at the Olympics without our country's name on their vests and apparently no one realized that this would be a problem.

The Narsingh Yadav gamble

Narsingh Yadav had tested positive for methandienone on the 25th of June and 5th of July (this is a gap of 10 days). He claimed that there was a conspiracy against him and that his food/drink had been spiked. NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency of India) exonerated him, presumably believing his claims. As a result, he was representing India at the Olympics - and it isn't like we didn't have a choice. Our champion Sushil Kumar with two Olympic medals in the immediately preceding two Olympics (silver - 2012, London Olympics + bronze - 2008, Beijing Olympics), for example was a possibility. Perhaps it could be someone else. But the point was, whatever "evidence" NADA used to exonerate Narsingh Yadav in India, it didn't stand up to scrutiny when challenged by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). The CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) at the Olympic Games ruled against him.

The CAS Panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was the victim of sabotage and noted that there was no evidence that he bore no fault, nor that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional.

As a result, Narsingh Yadav now has a 4 year ban from performing, and India doesn't have an entry where it could very likely have won a medal. A hard question that needs to be asked is how the NADA exonerated him, if there was no evidence and with a 10 day gap between his tests being positive; and whether the national interest is served in this manner.

And of course, there are many long term problems plaguing Indian sports (other than cricket). Lack of identification and training in any methodical manner being the top of the list. And it isn't like Modi sarkar didn't know what needed to be done. This is an excerpt from Modi's speech after the last Olympics explaining how India could easily pick up 5-10 Olympic medals, now sarcastically doing the rounds as his suggestion for 2016 Olympics.

Mumbai, 18th Nov, 2013: Weeks after coming out of BIFR, the loss-making Mafatlal Industries appears to have sold assets to their own directors for peanuts. On 31st July 2011, Mafatlal Industries Ltd. sold to director of Mafatlal Services Ltd. Mr Rajendra Likhite and his wife Anagha, a prized 1200 sq feet flat on Mount Mary Road, Bandra, for a measly Rs. 1.25 crore, with a 200 sq feet garage thrown in free. As the garage alone is reckoned to be worth Rs 25 lakh at the market rate prevailing at that time, it means that the flat was sold at Rs 8,000/- per square foot – a price that may be suitable in distant suburbs like Dahisar or downmarket areas like Kurla – but hardly the price for an 8th floor sea-view apartment in a prime location where celebs like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Subhash Ghai reside. It is learned that comparable transactions in that posh neighbourhood and in the same building were happening at about Rs 6 cr at the time – Rs 50,000 per square foot!

Mr Likhite had occupied the company’s flat since 1995. Interestingly, the high profile auditor Deloitte Haskins & Sells turned a blind eye to the undervalued sale of this flat while auditing the balance sheet.

Legal implications of sale of Mafatlal flat

As per the Companies Act 1956, Mr. Likhite was a director of Mafatlal Industries at the time of this suspicious sale. So:

  1. The company was required to pass a board resolution for such a transaction.
  2. A shareholder can ask justification for this transaction in which the director is being rewarded indirectly, and shareholders are being fleeced of their company’s asset.
  3. For the Company, it is a dividend given to its director, which is taxable.
  4. The difference amount between actual value (reckoned at Rs 6 cr.) and the sale price (Rs 1.25 cr) would be considered as income of Mr. Likhite, which is taxable at 30% and more.
  5. Further, under section 271(1)(c)- concealment of income or inaccurate particulars attract 100% to 300% penalty.
  6. The company was required to deduct TDS on this deemed income of Mr. Likhite.

Incidentally, the company’s balance sheet for that financial year (see page 26 of link given below) says that in the previous financial year (i.e. before it sold this Kanti Apartment flat in Bandra West), it sold fixed assets worth 131.04 cr. Now that raises doubts as to how much those earlier assets were undervalued, and who the beneficiaries were, also and whether BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction) was involved.

What the other side says:

Despite the clear mention of Mr Likhite’s name on the website of Registrar of Companies (See http://corporatedir.com/company/mafatlal-services-limited ), both the company secretary and Mr Likhite maintained that he was only an employee, and not a director. (Note: as per Section 370(1B) of The Companies Act, 1956, being a director in a group company i.e. Mafatlal Services Ltd. is tantamount to being a director in Mafatlal Industries Ltd.)

The response of Mafatlal Industries’ group’s Secretary, Mr Rasesh Shah, is as follows:
“Mr. R R. Likhite is not and was never a Director of the Company, Mafatlal Industries Limited. He is working with the Company for the past 28 years. In accordance with the terms and conditions of his service, the Company had provided him with an accommodation and he has been staying at Kanti Apartments since 1995. As regards your allegations on various legal grounds, we would like to clarify that the Company adheres to the best compliance standards and had obtained prior approval from the Board of Directors. In order to support the Board to reach the right decision, the transaction was supported with an independent valuer's valuation report. Further, the Company has complied with all the requisite provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 as well as the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 in respect of the transaction for sale of flat and the Company has also paid all the taxes legally payable on the transaction and has filed the Income Tax Return accordingly. At the time of sale of flat at Kanti Apartment, since the Company was out of BIFR, no permission of BIFR was required.”

Echoing Mr Likhite’s response, the company’s official letter went on to impute malicious intent and other motives to Mr Sulaiman Bhimani. Please read full copy of the company secretary’s response: http://tinyurl.com/Mafatlal-CS

Email response received from Mr Rajendra Likhite can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/Mafatlal-likhite

The official spokesperson of the company’s auditor Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Ms Malika Kumar, refused to comment. The office of the Chairman of BIFR, Mr B S Meena, had also not responded to faxed and phoned queries at the time of going to press.

Sale deed for the flat and Mafatlal’s balance sheet: http://tinyurl.com/Mafatlal

Issued in public interest by

Krishnaraj Rao (9821588114, krish.kkphoto@gmail.com)

Sulaiman Bhimani (9323642081, designerstouch11@gmail.com)