Thursday, December 5, 2013


Today's blog is about a shocking lack of transparency, seemingly deliberate, involving one of the premier Regiments of the Indian Army, 61 Cavalry and its association with Army Polo and Riding Club and Indian Polo Association. This continuing opaqueness about the functioning of these organisations raises questions of morality and ethics and has been continuing unchecked right under the nose of the top brass of the Army. It primarily concerns the activities of the Army Polo and Riding Club (APRC) which is utilizing all facilities of the Army without having any legal sanction and without its accounts ever coming under the scrutiny of the the Defence accounts Department.

To begin with, the APRC is neither registered as a society nor as a company but it is functioning since 1995 as an unregistered body under the control of the Indian Army. The Chief of Army Staff was the President of this Club till May 2013. After that Quarter Master General of the Indian Army is the President of this Club. This change in the leadership occurred on the basis of the application filed under RTI Act 2005 to CPIO of Indian Army to know the status of the Army Polo and Riding Club. In response to the RTI Application, CPIO informed that Army Polo and Riding Club is not a Public Authority, so no information can be given regarding the functioning of the Army Polo and Riding Club. 

This reply, thus, makes it clear that despite enjoying all the facilities of the Army and having senior Army officers as its office bearers, the APRC has been deliberately kept outside the purview of a public authority. This raises serious questions about the motive to keep it out of the ambit of public scrutiny.

However, the Army’s reply regarding APRC not being a public body may not stand legal scrutiny. Consider this-To begin with APRC is located in the premises of the ‘B’ Squadron of 61 Cavalry of Indian Army and a serving Colonel of the 61 Cavalry, its Commandant, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Army Polo and Riding Club. The sources and resources of the Indian Army are fully used for the functioning of the APRC.

The APRC organizes polo season every year from October 15 to December 8. Interestingly, the Club allows team whose players are playing members of the Indian Polo Association (IPA) through a Club or Associations affiliated to IPA. IPA itself is presently not a recognized sports body by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The matches are played at the Army Equestrian Centre in Delhi Cantonment, which is located in an area allotted to Army by Defence Estates. The matches are held at Jaipur Polo Ground in Delhi Cantonment which is given on lease By the Ministry of Poverty and Urban Development to Indan Polo Association on long lease. Despite this clear use of Army resources, the Army claims in its RTI reply that the APRC is not a public authority which flies in the face of the definition of public authority under the RTI Act 2005.

Not only Indian but even foreign teams are permitted to participate in the polo matches organised by the APRC. The club is not exclusively for personnel of Indian Army but also have civilians and foreigners as its member. For a civilian to be the member of the Army Polo and Riding Club he has to purchase an Admission form (price printed on the form is Rupees 50/-) but it is given for Rupees 150/. The membership fees per person is Rs 50,000. How and under which rule civilians are made the members and how their admission and monthly subscription is decided, no one is aware about it. The basic issue concerning the membership of APRC is whether the Army, being a government body, can allow membership to civilians and foreigners.

The APRC also takes sponsorship from corporate houses for organizing polo matches. The sponsorship amount is in lakhs for different matches. The prominent sponsors of this year are Yes Bank, Royal Salute of Chivas Brother, Jack Daniels and they have given the contract to Equisports Management Private Limited for getting the sponsorships for polo matches. Equisports management is also managed by some members of APRC. There is no independent audit of the funds collected for the sponsorships and all audit is through an internal auditor of the APRC.
Needless to say, the counting procedures are in gross contravention to orders, thus undermining the image of the Services.

The intertwined relationship of the APRC and the IPA can be gauged from the fact that the Commandant of the 61 Cavalry, Colonel Navjot Singh Sandhu, is also the Honorary Secretary of the Indian Polo Association (IPA). The IPA is a society registered as a ‘welfare body’ and not as a sports association under Section 20 of Societies and Registration Act 1860. Legal experts say there is no provision for a sports body to be registered under the Section 20 of Societies and Registration Act 1860.

IPA itself is not recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Affairs which is the main body looking after sports in India. The fund collected by IPA are used for the overseas visits of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and other senior members of the Indian Polo Association and Army Polo And Riding Club. During the year 2010-2011 as per the balance sheet of the IPA, Rs 18 Lacs were spent on the visit of then COAS to Argentina. It is also surprising that though IPA and APRC is responsible for the promotion of Equestrian sports and they have not been to able to train any individual or team for Asian or Olympics meet.

Interestingly, there is another organization in the name of Army Equestrian Centre, fully controlled by the Indian Army and an Army Establishment operating from the Defence lands and public funds to the tune of Rs 11,85,3000 have been  allocated to it by the Army headquarters. It conducts training and tournaments for Army Polo players and provides venue for the IPA events.  This organization provides venue/infrastructure facilities/polo grounds for the IPA and APRC events and it is directly under the control of Quarter Master General’s Branch of the Indian Army. The access to civilians is permitted for the events of IPA. Foreigners can use these facilities under special permission of the Army authorities.

IPA collects funds as subscription fees from members, clubs and spends money as per the liking of Honorary Secretary and Army Polo and Riding Club get sponsorships for IPA for polo matches and other events. All this leaves enough funds at the discretion of Honorary Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, who in the present case is the Commanding Officer of the 61 Cavalry.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports generally gives grants to the different Sports Federation of India and in its order dated 21 April, 2010, it directed all sports bodies to bring transparency in the functioning of Sports Federation by appointing Public Information Officer for RTI Act, failing which no grants will be given. Amazingly, IPA refused to follow the transparency and did not appoint a PIO without caring for the grants and had refused to take any grants since 2010. It might be argued that the IPA chose not to receive grants in order to avoid appointing a PIO under the RTI Act.

All the above facts make it clear and an independent and fair probe is needed into the activities of the APRC and the IPA in order to ascertain how Army facilities are being blatantly used without any transparency at all. It also needs to be inquired whether there is any complicity of the higher brass of the Army in order to ensure that the dealings of APRC and IPA remain opaque and they are kept out of the purview of the RTI Act for this purpose.

Given the fact that senior Army officers are involved in the dealings with both these organizations, it will augur well for the Service to order a probe immediately on the role of its own officers in these organizations.


  1. Aman, you have rightly brought out the issue, which every one in the army is aware about it, but no one wants to speak about it .I am surprised that Chief of Army Staff is the President of Indian Polo Association and was the President of Army Polo And Riding Club till May 31,2013. It is high time that Army should order investigation as soon as possible. If they don’t take this step, the day is not far, when CBI has to jump in and start investigating about the state of affairs of APRC and IPA These days anything is possible, indictment of an Ex Supreme Court Judge by three Supreme Court Judges itself is an example. No one is above law. Secondly, it is strange that a serving officer is known as Chief Executive Officer, CEO of APRC. No one has ever heard of such an appointment in Indian Army. Thirdly, how come these organizations are functioning directly under the command of senior officers. What is the fact? How come APRC is not a Public Authority, whereas it has got serving officers ( COAS) as its President, CEO a serving Colonel of the Army, it is using the sources and resources of Indian Army? What is it then? If Not a Public authority. In this age of transparency, nothing can be kept under the cover. The senior officers should remain above board and set an example in front of the junior officers, other ranks and civilians and take exemplary action against the offenders.

  2. I agree with Major Guneet .Its high time when the COAS who is always playing the trumpet of Honesty, transparency and professionalism should intervene and solve this matter. I feel there is no requirement of 61 cavalry as there is no professional or operational benefit of keeping this regiment. President has got his own guards. It is simply a wastage of exchequer money. IPA is the body which is looked after by APRC officials and is quite instrumental in making international relations. One side as per Army Law interaction with foreign national is not allowed on the other side CEO is always inter acting with corporates and foreign nationals. Good !!! Keep it up!!! Gen Vikram sahib utth jaao!! kalkahin CBI enquiry na kar ley!!

  3. APRC is just like any other Regimental Institution. There are large number of Riding Clubs, Golf Clubs, Officers Institutes, Messes, JCOs Institutes etc. Opaqueness breeds corruption and transparency breeds just and fair environment. It also makes peple responsible to run such Regimental Institutes responsible and accountable. Army is no more sacred cow. Hope this blog is read by Gen Bikram Singh COAS. Col SK Aggarwal, Retd, Advocate Mob 09815558983

  4. I do not see how it harms anyone! If a set of people have a ball without harming anyone, why this colic? I neither play polo nor am I very fond of riding. But I do not see any harm whatsoever in riding fraternity making best of things without hurting anyone. You remind me of a friend of mine who was always DUKHI. On dining table he would say itni sari subjiya kyon banayi!

    1. It seems u have got some interest in it otherwise u will not take a single minute to call spade a spade!!! Wake up and stop giving wrong examples and supporting wrong things.

  5. It is high time for the Army to order an independent audit of the funds of ARmy Polo and Riding Club and Indian Polo Association by CDA, Western Command. Further, a board of senior officers should be appointed to check the functioning of these associations. COAS should desist from patronizing these associations. The sources of Army should be used for the army personnel and their dependents and not for civilians.

  6. Is the Indian Army DV Branch is sleeping !!! Why they are not taking any interest in this matter. What has gone wrong with the Chief and QMG who are heading this . I feel that all the accts of APRC and IPA should be audited by Competent authority and every thing should be made crystal clear. This shows the dubious character of senior officers who have been playing the trumpet of honesty and transparency in front of jawans and junior officers. It was only Army Which as per my knowledge was an honest and transparent organization but it seems there are lot of hidden things which are happening under the cover. For example this IPA sponserships , use of foreign aid, interacting with foreign nationals having a gala life with corporate groups. Think abt your men who are under your command their welfare and good life.!!!! May Lord give some sense to concerned persons

  7. See My friend who ihas written that it does not harm any one and has given a nice example of Dukhi Atma who use to say itni sari subjiya kyon banayi!!! See there is nothing wrong in his thought process. These type of persons will never speak when some thing wrong is happening in this world. They will always say : Saano kee. but in case their own interests are effected then they will never leave any stone unturned to resolve the issue. See I would like to mention that If there is nothing wrong in asking for APRC Audit. IPA is totally dependent on APRC for complete administration. Their office is in 61 cavalry .Hardly matters if foreign nationals and civilians are coming to their office there is nothing wrong , it is covered under sadbhawna drive. This matter is very serious and it is high time for proper investigative agency to intervene and come out with the truth. COAS should do it himself and regularize every thing

  8. It seem to be another scam like the infamous Sukhna Land Scam and the Adarsh Housing Society Scandal in which the top brass of the Indian Army brought disgrace and humiliation to the organization. It is very sad that Army is getting deeper and deeper in the corruption cauldron. To ensure transparency in the system and to regain public confidence, the authorities should suo motu furnish information instead of putting a shroud of secrecy on the evil deeds of its top brass under the garb of so called exemption clause under the RTI Act. Declining information on frivolous grounds clearly hints the opening of a Pandora box which would put a question mark on the act , conduct and integrity of the officials associated with such organisations. The matter involves grave public interest and deserves a detailed investigation by an independent agency like CVC or CBI.

  9. What an excuse? Some of the prominent civilian members of the APRC have mentioned that with these type of blogs," Civilians will not be able to enjoy the facilities of the Riding and Polo". Why Army should provide these facilities to the mega rich people of the society? If the civilian friends are so much interested in Horse riding and Polo, they should from their own polo and develop their own infrastructure. Let the Army facilities should be enjoyed by the Armed forces personnel only, I repeat only Armed forces personnel, and their dependents. It may be Officers, JCO's or other ranks. Why not APRC train an Army team of Polo and Horse riding of an International standard.

  10. The only answer to this confusion is CBI inquiry !!!!! CEO should be chargesheeted for interacting with foreign nationals under the disguise of POLO event.General who had gone to China to enjoy their hospitality should be asked for the reasons .Hi time for the competant authorities to wake up and dismantle this false facade created by APRC and IPA. This should be taken over by Sports ministry.!!!!!!

  11. What a surprise? There are two persons in our country who are mum and do not want to take any action, though lot of scams are happening under their nose. One is our worthy Prime Minister and Second is Army Chief. APRC/INDIAN POLO ASSOCIATION/ ARMY EQUESTRIAN CENTRE are full of financial irregularities and working as a Private commercial organisation. Why not action is being taken? Why Why Why? raises a number of doubts. Surprisingly, some one has rightly said, follow the example of politicians. If there is a scam, just keep quite, with time it will be over, just smile and say Kuch Nahin hoge. The days of these things are over. The best example is AAP in Delhi, the strongest party of India since independence has been over thrown only on the basis of transparency by an organization which is just 600 days old. Enjoy Chief Sahib, let us see for how long Golf Clubs under the cover of Environment Park and Training Area, Polo Clubs will be camouflaged. Please come out of South Block and see what is happening in your country, then listening to the sycophants, who are in the habit of saying," Sir, Koi Disgruntled Admi likh rahi hai, koi pharak nahin parta hai".

  12. Its is not at all surprising that Col Navjot Singh Sandhu popularly known as Navo has kept everything under wraps and using these funds to grease the palms of the Generals such as the Quater Master General and the Chief of The Army Staff who is his uncle thats right Navo and his wife claim and infact name drop the COAS General of social gatherings that nothing can be done to them that too right after this blog first came out, Navo's father Maj General MS Sandhu also claims that the COAS is his course mate and he has personally spoken to the COAS on this issue and nothing shall be done on it, infact now that the Army Polo and Riding Club has featured in this blog Navo's father wants to shift this Club and the Indian Polo Association to the Presidents Bodyguard where he was a commandant and now his son would assume command after March 2014. Today i ask can this system of evasiveness and hiding behind the garb of the olive uniform or hiding behind the back of a influential father be stopped and the path of righteousness be adopted, the CBI should be involved and an inquiry be ordered to investigate these issues...

  13. Dear All,

    There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good...So love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't...Life is too short to be anything but happy...Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living!

    The aim should be that this beautiful sport is made popular and accessible to as many as possible. Young blood must MUST come in. The sport will survive when it spreads and anything done where it help this aim is good and right - rest is selfish and wrong.
    At Rissala we use the word "Balanced" before "Successful". Balanced means ensuring your Health, Relationships, Mental peace are all in good order.

    (There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your break-up. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions).

    "Life is one of those races in nursery school where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same is with life where Health and Relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

    Also i always wonder why people want to be Anonymous ????? say what you feel and say it openly - fear of any kind is negative- its always restricts ones personality. Riders and horse lovers are generally good friends and all who know them are blessed as they have a great heart to share their warmth, friendship and love of life with humbleness. What is most refreshing is that they are able to think big and at the same time relish small pleasures. They are always counted among those who walk in when the rest of the world walks out, trusted friends and good human beings.

    Wishes to one and all.


    Rissala Polo


  14. Life is mostly froth and bubble, Two things stand like stone,
    Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own.

  15. Even Equestrian federation of India(EFI) has got its office in 61 Cavalry,, maximum office bearers are from Army

  16. There was a time when Indian Army officers actually (i) exhibited great moral standards and had a profound sense of right and wrong; (ii) had courage of their convictions; (iii) had impeccable personal integrity; and (iii) most importantly, gave more to their regiments than they took from it.
    But that is from a time when officers came from a certain background. By that I do not imply moneyed families, but what in those days was informally referred to as upbringing and 'khandani'.
    Some of the above responses are emblematic of everything that has gone wrong. To me, some of those seem like a bunch of mercenary freeloaders who are willing to go to any extent to manipulate and exploit the system, and may even sell their mother to a circus for free drinks and a good time ....
    But some of the counter replies still tells me that the Army still has some good officers. I repose my faith, and that of the nation, in them. God Bless this breed.

  17. What a shame !! Not a word about ex-Major Rohit Baswani and his parties?