Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Tackling an age-old problem: BAI can take a leaf out of chess federation

BAI passed a directive asking its state affiliates to only accept birth certificates registered within a year of the birth date.

Written by Shivani Naik |
February 22, 2017 12:34:34 am
Badminton Association ID, BAI, badminton, chess federation, players registration, BAI players registration, age fraud controversy, age fraud, badminton tournaments, sports news Usually if registration with BAI and of birth certificate is at the same time, brow should be raised. (Representational image)

Badminton is closing in on age fraud cheats after some scarring seasons of epic fudging in age-group competitions. On February 9, the BAI passed a directive asking its state affiliates to abide by the rule that only birth certificates registered within a year of the birth date are to be accepted directly while registering players and handing over Badminton Association ID numbers to them. Chess has successfully implemented this and not seen age fraud controversies for the last five years.

What does the new directive say?

It insists on only accepting birth certificates registered within one year of child’s birth, and treating all others as suspect and subject to verification. Usually if registration with BAI and of birth certificate is at the same time, brow should be raised.

Where does age fudging start?

For a player to participate in State or National-ranking Badminton tournament, the player needs to have an identification number (called the Badminton Association of India Identifier – BA ID) which is issued BAI. The player applies for this through the state body. BAI by itself does not authenticate birth certificates but relies on State Associations. Close to 40 per cent of the top 10 ranked in age categories have been found to be over-age in years gone by and the menace is most striking in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Delhi, Uttar Pradesg and north east states.

How can the new directive be implemented?

All new players can pay a verification fee to respective state associations before gaining BA ID. There are reputed agencies (this can be outsourced) who conduct background verifications (mostly IT companies for education degrees of prospective employees) for a minimal fee of Rs 100 – 500 depending on whether data is available online in each state as birth certificates are public documents.

What is a delayed birth certificate?

As per the Births and Deaths Act of 1969, the birth should be registered within 30 days of the child being born – which is a normal birth certificate. The Delayed birth certificate is in the event of the birth not being registered within one year where the applicant or their guardians must file a civil suit in front of a Magistrate court making corporation/panchayat as the opposite party. The court directs the corporation/panchayat to issue new birth certificates. It’s a loophole misused to get a delayed birth certificate, which is a legal document.

What is the modus operandi of cheating?

Most schools in the country admit children at 3-4 years. At the time of admission, a correct birth certificate (registration within a year) is submitted by parents, 99% times. At the age of 7 or 8 years, say a child joins an academy training under a badminton coach. If it is seen that the child is keen, some coaches advise parents to lower the age of the child by a year or two so that the child has an unfair advantage.

Parents now approach a different municipality/corporation/panchayat of a city/town/village other than where the child was born and apply for a birth certificate giving the mother’s and father’s name but a date of birth where only the year of birth is lower (ex: 01.01.2002 is changed to 01.01.2004).

Since the birth event is not available/registered with the new municipality/corporation/panchayat, a “NON-AVAILABILITY” report is given to the parents, which the latter use to approach the Magistrate court. Only the Magistrate has powers to order for registration of birth. Now a forged study certificate – procured from the conniving school – (forged to lower the age for example from 2002 to 2004) is produced as proof that the child was born in 2004. In almost all such instances, the place of birth is always stated as home, village etc. The Magistrate passes an order asking the municipality /corporation/panchayat to register the birth and issue a new ‘delayed’ birth certificate.

Parents then change their child’s school to a new school, which is okay with a delayed birth certificate. Some parents are even ok with their child studying in a class lower than the actual. In some instances, the school is aware of what parents have done but chooses to ignore this and hence support such frauds.

Given how colossal corruption in Indian government systems is, can’t loopholes be found to fake these certificates?

No. There may be people with 2 or more birth certificates. But date of registration is recorded first manually and then records are sent to chief registrar’s office and then to Delhi. Date of registration cannot be back-dated. Even touts quake at the thought of meddling with the original register. Old books which have records of some players who were caught for over-age by CBI are still un-tampered – and running ones. Even to change a small spelling there is a lot of procedure involved. At least three signatures are required. The chess federation is not complaining about UP and Telangana now. This means it is impossible to back date there also. It’s easy to cheat, but easier to verify.

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