Yesterday, the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) sent out their announcement with the date for the next Annual General Meeting,with the date chosen being May 15. According to the PCI, they have not had an Annual General Meeting since January 24 of last year. Because of the time between AGMs, the Indian government had announced prior to the suspension that they planned to stopped providing them with grant money. As a result, prior to the IPC suspension on April 15 and the sacking of Tomar on April 4, on March 28 the PCI has originally scheduled an AGM for May 18 in Delhi.
The announcement was sent to all PCI affilliated state unites and sport federations, along with special invitees. The meeting will take place at 2:00 PM local time at the Raj Hans Hotel, Surajkund in Delhi.
The agenda has 15 items listed on it. The first two related to approving reports dating back to 2013, which occurred after the last leadership struggle that saw the PCI suspended by the IPC in 2011 following the Indian government suspending the PCI.
The third point relates to approving the Annual Audited Statement of accounts and balance sheet for the year ending March 31, 2014. It also includes provisional account audit for the year ending March 31, 2015. That point finishes with the PCI seeking approval of an action related to the regularization of pending accounts. Money, lack of payments to athletes, charging athletes to represent India and accusations of financial impropriety have been one of the central themes around the current suspension of the PCI, with ousted President Rajesh Tomar having suspended five members of the PCI on March 28 for alleged irregularities, with the new President and Secretary General undoing those suspensions and leveling their own accusations against Tomar. The eleventh item on the agenda seeks to approve new finacial and administrative guidelines. Appointment of a new CFO and other office staff appears twelfth on the agenda.
The fourth item seeks to approve a new amendment to the organization’s bylaws. The amendment and what it does is not specified, though the agenda notes it is “in the interest of the organization”.
The fifth point is to hold a detailed discussion of the mismanagement in relation to the National Para Athletics Championship held in Ghaziabad in mid-March. Issues around this event led to the IPC suspending the PCI, which in turn was a contributing factor in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports suspending the PCI’s recognition. The discussion will also touch on the suspension of Indian athletes from international competitions. Accusations of who is to blame for the National Para Athletics Championship situation have been swirling, with some leaked e-mails pointing to Tomar having been informed of but ignoring these issues.
A discussion of who is responsible for and potential disciplinary actions related to the National Para Athletics Championship are the sixth item on the agenda. The seven point is to discuss and approve the ACTC for 2015/2016.
Because of the controversy surrounding the PCI, 1st Indian Open Para-Games 2015, New Delhi, which originally scheduled for May, were postponed. Some media reports said until October while others said without a date. An item related to scheduling them for October / November 2015 appears eighth on the agenda with a new name of “First Asian Track and Field Para Athletic Championship” with the event being run by the PCI.
The nine item involves approving nominations and appointments to Senior Offices contingent approval by the new members of the Executive Committee “who have contributed immensely towards the development of Paralympic movement in India who can add value to the NPC India”.
The PCI is seeking recognition and affiliation of new units and states for the development of Paralympic sport in India. This item appears as the tenth item on the agenda. The point also seeks to take disciplinary action against existing units for any management or failure to comply with the organization’s bylaws. This agenda item appears to support the continuance of regionalism inside the Paralympic Committee of India that have resulted in a number of problems faced by the organization today. In a broad context, it reinforces a type of organization that is out of step with the may that most NPCs in other countries use to determine membership. In those cases, the two dominant models are based on types of disability, or based on national sport federation membership. The Indian Olympic Committee has a similar structure to the Paralympic Committee of India, and is potentially facing international sanction for this as it does not comply with the International Olympic Committee’s requirements for how an NOC should be organized. There are calls inside India to change this structure, but so far there appear to be few to no calls to change the regional structure of the PCI, and the IPC handbook does not say this is actually not allowed.
The thirteenth item looks to set up a potential Athletes Commission made up of five to seven members who can offer “their suggests from time to time, with regards to the development of Para Sports in India.” The agenda item makes clear this body would have no official say on any policies, nor have any oversight role or any position in actual governance issues in the PCI. There has been a lot of criticism of the PCI in the current controversy that Indian athletes have been neglected, and this item appears to be to address this criticism without having to actually create a pathway for formally dealing with their issues and complaints.
The fourteenth point is to discuss and approve a “Selection Committee / Coaches Panel” composed of three to five people who, like athletes, and offer their suggestions, recommendations and advice from time to time. Their role is given more space than that of athletes, though it also appears on the agenda as being a body that has no say in actual governance of the PCI.
The agenda conclusions with the ability to bring up any other issues with the permission of the chair.