DEHRADUN, 1 Feb: Even after many long years of waiting, Olympian Hardayal Singh is still waiting for his pension from the state government. Hardayal was a member of the Olympic Hockey team of 1956 that won the Gold medal at Melbourne. He is the most experienced hockey coach that Uttarakhand has, at present.
The previous Congress government had begun giving a small pension of Rs 1000 per month to the 81 year old Hardayal Singh. He received this amount regularly during the Congress regime.
He has got his knees replaced and the surgery cost him Rs 4 lakhs. Bearing the expenses of the surgery along with the day-to-day cost proved too much of a financial burden for Hardayal. This forced him to put his plight before the Uttarakhand Governor, BL Joshi, during a meeting in October 2008.
The Governor made the government take note of the matter and the Cabinet passed an order increasing Hardayal’s pension to Rs 7,500.
Despite the revised pension orders having been passed by the government, these still remain to be implemented, as Singh has not received any pension for the last many years.
“Right now, I am not getting any pension from the government. I had heard that Chief Minister Khanduri was a well-wisher of the ex-Army personnel, but this has not proved true in my case,” he said.
Hardayal lives with his daughter-in-law and grandson, who is employed with the State Bank of India after his son passed away in 2003. Hardayal expressed his willingness to render his services by working as a hockey coach. “I am ready to coach children and don’t want any salary. All I want is my pension,” he declared.
He is the highest qualified coach that the state could have. He has worked as the Chief Coach at the National Stadium, New Delhi for 15 years (1972-87). He has also done a course in International Olympic Committee Solidarity for coaches. In 1973, he went to Singapore and trained their team that won a gold medal against Malaysia.
In 1982, he was the chief coach for the junior Indian Hockey team that played the Indo-Park series that ended in a draw. After the series, the junior team toured Europe in 1982 and Kenya in 1983-84 and won all its matches. In 1984, the team, under his guidance, won a silver medal at the Junior World Cup at Kuala Lumpur.
Thereafter, he worked as Chief Coach for the Indian senior squad from 1983 to 1987, which won the bronze at the 10-nation hockey tournament in Hong Kong and silver at the second Asia Cup in Dhaka against Pakistan.
Referring to the scope for hockey in Uttarakhand, he said that Nainital was the only place where hockey was played throughout the year. In other places, children just played it for two to three months.
“If the state government lays an Astro turf and provides me with two assistant coaches, I will change the face of hockey in Uttarakhand,” proclaimed the Olympian.
Hardayal Singh thinks that unless and until the financial inequality that exists in sports in India is removed, it would be difficult to bring back the golden days of hockey. “If India wants to regain its supremacy in hockey, then hockey players should be treated at par with cricketers and should get the same emoluments as them. Sports can only rise in India when men wearing the Indian blazer receive equal treatment in all respects, especially monetary,” he commented.