Grandmaster R. B. Ramesh raises growing plights of players, coaches
After resigning as chief selector of AICF last weekend, Ramesh highlighted several issues hurting chess players and coaches on Twitter on Saturday.
Chennai-based coach, Grandmaster R. B. Ramesh.
"For years, chess players have suffered immensely due to lack of recognition from the Union Sports Ministry. My attempt is only to help undo the injustice and pave the way for a clear-cut policy for future players to get their dues.”
On Saturday, these words from the country's most respected chess coach Grandmaster R. B. Ramesh were laced with pain and a lingering hope that things would get better.
Having resigned as the chief selector of All India Chess Federation last weekend, Ramesh highlighted several issues hurting chess players and coaches on Twitter on Saturday.
Talking to Sportstar, Ramesh said, "In my conversations with players, who have brought immense glory to the country, I realised they all have been victims of Government’s indifference. Silently, they feel denied their rightful due. I researched and found some startling facts. Hence, I decided to bring those to the Sports Ministry’s notice.
"I have repeatedly tried for an appointment with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju but never got one. I am sure, once he becomes aware of the issues facing our players, things will get better."
Earlier in the day, Ramesh’s pain was evident when he tweeted, "Wrote to the Ministry of Sports on July 5 regarding Indian team selection for Online Chess Olympiad & as expected, not even an acknowledgement for receiving the email. Whatever achievement India has in most fields, is despite the system, not because of it. Wasted time drafting an email."
He went on, "Regarding awards for being Coach of Indian team or Indian players from Central government, less said the better. Last 15 years or so, I (and most other Indian coaches barring few) have not received ANY award from the Central government for (helping win) medals or producing talents.
"No Arjuna awards to chess players (since 2013) even though India has produced so many strong players who were simply ignored. 16 Grand Masters from Tamil Nadu in the period 2010 -2020. Number of Arjuna Awardees = 0.
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"Most Indian coaches don’t want to go with Indian team as the pay is degradingly low. What they will earn in a couple of days privately, is they get officially for 10 or 15 days.
"Can you guess the fee that was paid per day for being Coach of Indian Chess team for official events like the Olympiad, World Team Championship, Asian team Championships? No one would believe it (It was Rs. 1000 per day). Things got slightly better eventually, though nowhere near what it should be."
It is pertinent to note that Ramesh's students have returned with 34 medals from World youth championship, 40 from Asian Youth, 23 from Commonwealth championship, 36 from National championship and five from Asian championship. He was also coach of India’s only bronze-medal men’s team in the 2014 Chess Olympiad.
When Ramesh applied for the Dronacharya Award in 2015, he was awarded 0 out of 100 points! With such being the background, Ramesh asked in his tweet, "IS there a sports policy?"
Revealing from personal experience, Ramesh tweeted, “I had a lucrative offer to work with few Canadian players for the World Youth Championship in Mumbai last year. I refused and remained the coach for Indian team despite huge parity in fees where we won many medals.
"Unless the Ministry of Sports starts listening to stakeholders who are working on the ground and making a real difference, nothing will change for the better or it will take too much time."
"Sports Ministry should circulate a questionnaire among top 50 Indian players and get direct information from them about who deserve Arjuna and Dronacharya awards and take them into consideration as well to undo injustices done in the past.
"So many players and coaches have individually suffered silently over the years. The National Sports Development Fund needs reforms. It should be redesigned in a way that deserving will always get it.”