It was time Delhi Gymkhana was brought to book; there are many more clean-ups awaiting
Image: Courtesy Economic Times
I have written about Colonial remnant type Clubs in India here in Newsbred in the past also. There must be a large number, probably a few thousand of which most are in India, all surviving in some way or the other on the munificence of the tax-payer. The recent episode at the Delhi Gymkhana is an example of change, finally, in an Independent India. There is a very terrible pre-Independence type of neo-Colonial Apartheid practised in such Clubs which only those of us who have been part of them can understand. Let me, as one who was there, try to explain? Or, read the decision.
This article is also more about how in certain upscale circles of Delhi rent-seekers, the placing of Delhi Gymkhana under administration is seen as yet another blow on a certain category of farmers who we shall refer to as "Gymkhana Farmers", for lack of any better terminology. For 1000s of them, this blow of an investigation into the accounts of their favourite watering hole is worse than any other misfortune to befall them - and top to bottom, they appear to be blaming politicians. Which is indeed amazing - the past few Presidents and Committee Members have included and been people who have been senior civil servants, professionals, commanded lakhs of soldiers, 1000s of regimental mess and field formations and been in charge of 100s of organisations way bigger than this Delhi Gymkhana.
Let me give just a few examples - Southern Command is the oldest and biggest Indian Army Command area out of 7 such commands. It has about 46% of India's land area under its control. The last President of Delhi Gymkhana's previous position was General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Command of the Indian Army. But for a luck of the draw as far as date of Birth goes, he could have been the Chief of Army Staff. Instead, President of Delhi Gymkhana, right? This is the example that future leaders from our Armed Forces will see?
His competitor for the post of President was even more illustrious in terms of exposure to technical aspects of India's critical sea-forces, "The admiral is the senior most technical officer of the Indian Navy and held a number of important assignments both at sea and ashore. He was Controller Warship Production and Acquisition, prior to taking up the present assignment." Which includes this too - "Following the release of Rules for non-combatant vessels, the development of IRS Naval Rules for “combatant” vessels was taken up. These Rules have greater focus on the military aspects of ship design." The Vice-Admiral who handles all this wants to be President of Delhi Gymkhana? or at the very least construction.
Many of these illustrious uniform wearing genteel folk - and there are many more also from the civil Services - many of them also happen to live in Defence Colony, New Delhi, where I also live - are now marking attendance in a variety of offices handled by a variety of economic and even criminal investigative agencies, answering questions on petty larceny and financial skulduggery compared to the millions and billions of Rupees that they controlled. Just imagine what the scope for blackmail, distortions and leakage of sensitive information can be in such cases? For the control of a mere petty little Club, our Country's National Security is put at risk by people who appear to have lost all bearings on what National Interest can mean? This, for example, is the sort of issue that finds mention in their annual report.
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Bringing the Delhi Gymkhana Club Ltd., under Government Administration, is a huge symbolic step in correcting a vast amount of rot that had crept into the System in India. It was not just a Club for sportminded people. It had become a watering hole for fixers and lobbyists and all sorts of other punters. There are many such Clubs in India. Here is just one more. Will we see a clean-up on an all-India basis soon?
I mean there are army commanders have been given a Rs 200-crore clearance - and here we have 3 star generals/air marshalls who could not keep the books in a club clean?
Or are we going to continue to suffer not just taxpayer load but tax-evading Clubs? That also, headed by people who have been really senior in their pre-retirement Government lives, in uniform or otherwise.
Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.
A survivor of two brain-strokes, triggered by a ship explosion in the 70s, Veeresh moved beyond fear decades ago.
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