The All India Carrom Federation (AICF) was formed on 4th March 1956. On the initiatives of late Dr. R.S. Cunniah (Madras) and support of Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed (Bombay) and Mr. K.H. Krishnamurthy (Hyderabad) an ‘All India Meet’ was organized at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Madras. Representatives of Madras, Saurashtra, Bombay, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Hyderabad participated in the Meet. Representatives of Ceylon also participated in the Meet. Mr. N. Shankaran, the then Commissioner, Madras Corporation presided over the Meet and Mr. Madhav Menon, Hon’ble Speaker, Legislative Assembly formally inaugurated the Meet. After detailed deliberations, the Meet decided to form an all India body under the title ‘All India Carrom Federation’ to promote the game of carrom in India. The headquarters of the Federation was kept at Madras. Dr. M. Chenna Reddy, the then Minister for Agriculture & Food, Planning & Rehablitation, Hyderabad State was elected as the first President of the Federation while Dr. R.S. Cunniah was elected as the General Secretary.
Although the game of carrom was played widely in India, there was no uniformity in the specifications of equipments and rules of the game. The game of carrom became very popular among the masses in India during early part of the nineteenth century. This game was also popular with elite class and was being played by Rajas and Maharajas in their palaces on the carrom boards made of both wood and glass (one Carrom Board made of glass is still available in the palace of Maharaja of Patiala) before the First World War. Carrom was being played at competitive level in many Indian States even before India’s independence. In and around 1930 carrom competitions started in cities like Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Allahabad, etc. ‘Union Carrom Club of Almora’ was formed in 1932 whose President was Rai Bahadur H.K. Gangola. Although competitions were being organized at different levels in India about 30 to 40 years prior to the formation of the Federation, they were held under different rules. Carrom Boards during that period had different shapes and sizes. Many popular Carrom Boards had pockets inside frames of the boards like billiards. Few States like Bengal and Bihar had boards with triangular pockets. The size of the carrom boards varied between 32” and 54” square. In many cities, carrom was played with 12 white and 12 black carrom men with no Queen. Later the total number of carrom men was increased to 25 with one Queen. There was no control on the size and weight of the carrommen (c/m). The height of the stand and the stool was also not fixed. Different rules and point systems were being followed at different places. But commonly, underhand game (base pocketing) was not played and the players were not allowed to play the c/m of the opponent directly or indirectly. Players were also not allowed to pocket the confirmation c/m for Queen in the pocket in which Queen was pocketed. The strikers of any size, weight and material like plastic, ebonite, vulcanite, etc. were being used. The strikers made of ivory, which were being used by elite class, became more popular and later found to be more appropriate for this game. There was no time limit for making a stroke. Players were taking their own time to make every stroke like chess. There was no ban on smoking and hence more time. The games were extended for the whole day and became boring for the spectators. In many tournaments, French chalk was being used as powder on carrom boards. Matches were being decided on the basis of best of five games.
After the formation of the All India Carrom Federation in 1956, its officials had several meetings and decided to bring uniformity in the equipments and pattern of play. It decided to conduct the national championships on the basis of best of three games with a time limit of one hour for each game. Each game was of 29 points with 5 points for Queen. Time limit for each stroke was fixed as 30 seconds. Base pocketing and thumbing was allowed. The size of the carrom boards for the national championship was fixed as 32 x 32”. The size of the stand was fixed at 2’ 1” while for stool it was 1’ 9”. Boric powder was used for smooth play on carrom boards. Later, based on the feedback from players and technical officials, the Federation decided to reduce the size of the Carrom Board to 30”x30” and introduced carrom boards of new size in the 2nd national championship held at Guntur (AP) in 1958. The Federation, after undertaking a study the specifications and rules, reduced the size of Carrom Boards again to 29”x29” and introduced such carrom boards in the 4th national championship held at Bombay in 1969. In 1969, on the recommendations of the Steering Committee appointed by the Federation in 1967 after detailed study, the Federation adopted a new set of rules and publishes those rules in 1970 under the title ‘Laws of Carrom’. Among few important decisions were abolishing time limit of one hour for each game and limiting each game to eight boards upto pre-quarter final rounds and reduced the time limit for making a stroke from 30 seconds to 20 seconds. The carrom boards of 29” x 29” with minimum 8 mm ply thickness were approved. Each game was of 29 points with 5 points for Queen. All future tournaments conducted by the Federation and its affiliates were held under those rules. The International Carrom Federation later adopted the same rules, with some amendments. On 28th June 1989, the Federation adopted new ‘Laws of Carrom’ framed by the International Carrom Federation.
The Federation conducted the first national championship in 1956 at Nagpur with Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Men’s Team events. Twelve players from each State were invited for participating in the national championship – eight players were entered directly while four were entered in qualifying rounds. From the qualifying rounds, a total of eight players were selected for the main rounds of the national championship. Gradually, the Federation started events for women players in national championship and introduced events for junior players (under 18 years of age), sub-junior players (under 14 years of age), cadet players (under 12 years of age), youth players (under 21 years of age) and veteran players (above 45 years of age) in national championships. It eliminated Mixed Doubles event in late nineties. In 1980, the Federation decided to have 5 members in the Team of each affiliated unit for team events. During 1993 the Federation abolished the qualifying rounds and decided to have a team of 6 players and same players were allowed to play in singles and doubles events. Since then, in addition to 6 male and 6 female players, federation is inviting two male and two female players in cadet/youth/veteran categories of the national championships. Later it changed the composition of zones with the affiliation of new States; changed the pattern of play for Team events i.e. from 2 Singles and 1 Doubles to best of three Singles. It also reviewed and revised the point system for each Ranking Tournament.
From 1956 till 31st March 2012, the Federation not only conducted 120 national championships in senior, junior and sub-junior categories but also introduced Zonal and Inter-zonal Championships, All India Federation Cup Ranking Tournament, Inter-Institution National Championship and various Prize Money and Invitation Tournaments and giving appropriate exposure to carrom players at national level. It organized various national level events in new cities and towns to propagate the game of carrom in all parts of India. Earlier, to raise the level of quality and competitiveness, the Federation in 1959, decided to invite Sri Lankan carrom players to participate in the national championships. Sri Lankan players participated for the first time in the 3rd national championship held in 1959 at Hyderabad. After few years participation of Sri Lankan players in the national championships was discontinued.
After its establishment, the Federation grew in stature and status. From merely 6 State Associations in March 1956, it has now 30 State Associations and 18 Institutions as its affiliates. By affiliating more and more State Associations, the Federation was able to spread the game of carrom in all parts of India through its State and District Associations. The Federation took successful steps to invigorate the State and District Associations where carrom activities were not being organized and later made it obligatory for all State Associations to organize State Championships and District Championships in at least 50% districts of the State every year. To effectively implement the decision to conduct of State Championships, the Federation decided to send an Observer for all the State Championships. It made obligatory for all State Associations to submit their annual reports and annual accounts every year to the Federation failing which suitable action could be initiated against them. It later asked and ensured that elections were conducted by all State Associations wherever they were pending with a target date. The Federation started registering all carrom players at the grass root level and made it compulsory for all players to get themselves registered before they participate in District, State and National level tournaments every year. At the national level, it took several steps to popularize the game in the country, provide better facilities and environment to the players and smooth functioning of the Federation. From the meager amount of Dearness Allowance being paid to players, now it is providing good quality food to all the participants for their participation in all national level activities. It introduced examination for empanelling Umpires in 1971 and posted qualified umpires in all its activities. It revised upward number of times amount of TA/DA being paid to qualified national and international Umpires and Technical officials and introduced Washing Allowance for them.
The Federation was able to get grant-in-aid for each and every national championship organized since 1995. In September 1995, the Federation formulated guidelines for Technical Directors/Delegates, Chief/Asstt. Chief Referees & Umpires and formulated ‘Code of Conduct’ for Indian participants in international events and made it mandatory for them to sign it before they participate in international events. During March 1997 the Federation decided to formulate ‘Tournament Regulations’ covering wide range of technical and organizational aspects like new systems for selection of Indian team, team draws, play-off matches, National Ranking, tournament fee, increase in number of days for junior and sub-junior nationals, upward revision in dearness and traveling allowance of players/ officials/umpires, prize money, system for draws, seeding, introduced new transfer & registration policies for players etc. and brought all those regulations in a comprehensive manner in the booklet titled ‘Tournament Guidelines’. In the meantime the Federation amended the Constitution twice and later in the changing scenario, replaced its old Constitution with a new set of Rules & Regulations and introduced two new posts to focus on marketing and media jobs. The Federation discontinued the unwieldy procedure of draws and in 2000 started taking out the draws at AICF headquarters at New Delhi 15 days before the championships and preparing draws booklets containing all the draws, fixtures, schedules, posting of umpires, board numbers on which the players and umpires have to report and match numbers. All players and umpires appreciated the new system. Later, a software for taking out the draws was also got developed. The Federation through the International Carrom Federation conducted two exclusive International Umpires’ Examinations in India during 1996 and 2003 and deputed one candidate umpire for the examination in 1997 held in U.K. The Federation took several steps including medical examination to check participation of overage players in junior and sub-junior national championship and use of alcohol and drugs during national championships. It made compulsory submission of sufficient age proof and physical examination of players by qualified doctors for verification of their age before each national championship. The Federation, after regular and vigorous follow-up was successful in getting 80 to 90% participation from its affiliated units in all its national championships. Since the participation of affiliated units in the national championships had increased considerably, most of the players had to play for about 8 to 10 hours daily for 5 to 6 days and the Federation noticed lot of stress on players during national championships. Hence, the Federation changed the pattern of play and abolished doubles individual events from all national championships and included the doubles event in the team events and was able to reduce stress on players. To unearth new talent at the young age and to create interest about this game among the children, the Federation through its State Associations and District Associations started organizing Inter-School level tournaments. Many States have started inter-college tournaments also. In many schools, exclusive regular carrom coaching sessions for the whole year are being organized.
The Federation decided to establish Benevolent Fund for the players. On 1st May 1998, the Federation took an historic decision to ban the use of ‘Ivory’ strikers in all carrom activities in India controlled by the Federation under ‘Wild Life Protection Act’. There were apprehensions that it would affect the skill of the game since ivory strikers were believed to be the best for display of high-level skill. But after becoming accustomed to the strikers made of new material, players were able to display the same level of skill. Keeping in view the tough challenge being thrown by foreign players, the Federation in 2003 introduced ‘Yoga’ for the Indian players to improve their concentration and mental/physical fitness especially during Coaching Camps organized for the Indian Teams. It also introduced subjects like Sports Psychology and Killing Instinct during Coaching Camps. To get the attention of general public and Media, the Federation started inviting cine and sports celebrities to its nationals. Since it was felt by all that carrom players do not need physical fitness of high level, the Federation undertook research work on the issue including relationship between mind and body and its effect on the performance of players. After it was found physical fitness is imperative for carrom players, it was made a compulsory subject for coaching camps and instructions passed on to the units to ensure physical fitness of carrom players before deputing their teams for the national championships. It also initiated research work on the fact that carrom is a scientific game based on physics and geometry. It was successful in its endeavour with the preliminary reports. The Federation also undertook some research work on carrom equipments and was able to provide carrom equipments in all its activities with continuing improvement. The Federation launched its bi-monthly official newsletter ‘The Carrom Express’ in 2002 and started its circulation to the whole carrom community including free circulation to media, sports and government agencies, school and college libraries, etc.
In 1970, the Government of India, All India Council of Sports recognized the All India Carrom Federation and the game of carrom. With such recognition, the AICF became eligible for different facilities from the Government and the game of carrom started getting treated at par with other games. The Federation got itself registered under Societies Act on 7th July 1977 at Chennai. In 1977, Ministry of Railways extended the facility of train fare concession to the carrom players for participating at national/international level. This was the major breakthrough achieved by the Federation since it proved to be of great help to carrom players who were traveling to different parts of India for participating in carrom tournaments. At present, carrom players are getting 75% concession in train fare for participating in national/international level carrom activities in India based on the certificates issued by the Federation. In 2010, the Federation could register itself under Section 12A read with Section 12AA of the Income Tax Act 1961 and under Section 80G (5) VI of the Income Tax Act 1961. After such registration, the amount of donors paid to the Federation as donations etc. will be tax free for them and the profits of the Federation will also be tax free.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India, in 1991, allotted office space to the All India Carrom Federation in the prestigious Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi and sanctioned a post of Assistant Secretary whose salary is reimbursed by the Government of India as grant-in-aid. Mr. Mukteshwari Sharan joined the Federation as Assistant Secretary on 24.1.1991 against that post. Later Mr. Ashok Sharma got the game of carrom included for recruitment under sports quota by Government agencies for C and D grade posts. The Federation was able to get the dream of carrom community fulfilled when A. Maria Irudayam was conferred with coveted Arjuna Award on 29th August 1997 by H.E. President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi for his meritorious achievements of being two times world champion and nine times national champion. This was one of the major achievements for the Federation. The Federation arranged special Felicitation Function for A. Maria Irudayam on 30th August 1997 at New Delhi. Earlier, in 1983, for the first time Maharashtra Government honoured two carrom players of Maharashtra, Suhas Kambli and Suvarna Khandrey (Nalini Bolinjkar) with prestigious State Sports “Shrishiv Chatrapati” Award. On 26th October 1998, the Indian Olympic Association recognised the All India Carrom Federation and the game of carrom. The School Games Federation of India recognized the game of carrom in 1998. To help the poor carrom players, the Federation took up with the Government of India and was able to get the Pension sanctioned in 1998 for a poor veteran carrom player, Mr. Loknath of Karnataka, who won Men’s Veteran title in 1997 national championship. He became the first carrom player to receive the Pension from the Government of India. The Federation after persistent follow up and arduous efforts was able to get the game of carrom included in the ‘Talent Search Scholarship Scheme’ of the Sports Authority of India and carrom players who secured top positions in their respective States and students who excelled at national level started getting Annual scholarships from Sports Authority of India. The Federation started getting attention of media and was able to have exclusive stories on carrom mostly on all popular channels including NDTV, Aaj Tak, Star Plus, Star News, Zee News, ETV, Doordarshan, regional language channels, etc. etc. besides good newspaper coverage in different cities. The Federation also hired some professionals for good media coverage for different national activities. The Federation was also able to get the LIVE telecast of 1st and 3rd World Championship held at New Delhi in 1991& 2000 and Junior National Championship held at Faridabad in 2002. After Media slowly started giving due coverage to this game, the Federation started getting sponsorships from private and public sector companies. With the efforts of the Federation, two carrom world champions from India, A. Maria Irudayam and S. Appoorwa, were included in Queen’s Baton Relay, a curtain raiser for Commonwealth Games held at New Delhi during 2005. This gave lot of publicity to carrom since the Government of India, Indian Olympic Association and Delhi Government made big arrangements for top sportspersons from different games and organized a big musical evening and the laser show at National Stadium to conclude the Relay at Delhi. The Government of Andhra Pradesh sanctioned cash awards to carrom players. In 2002, Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh gave cash award of Rs.25,000/- to D. Swarnalatha followed by Ch. Srenica and P. Nirmala on their winning Senior National titles. SAAP also gave cash awards of Rs.3 lakhs to P. Appoorva, Rs.2 lakhs to P. Nimala and Rs.1 lakh to K. Suvarna. In 1983 it gave financial assistance to Anuraju for her visit to Sri Lanka for the Indo-Sri Lanka Test Series. The Government of Tamil Nadu also gave cash award and a residential flat to A. Maria Irudayam for his meritorious achievements.
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu presented a cash award of Rs.10 lakhs (Rupees one million) to I. Ilavazhaki on her winning the 5th World Championship title in February 2008. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra presented a cash award of Rs.5 lakhs to Yogesh Pardeshi on his winning the 5th World Championship title in February 2008. Yogesh has also been awarded an amount of Rs.3 lakhs by his employer, Indian Oil on winning the prestigious world title. Rashmi Kumari was presented a cash award of Rs.1 lakh by her employer, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. on winning 5th ICF Cup title in October 2008. Sports Councils of many other States have recognized the game of carrom and are giving financial assistance to the State Associations.
Her Excellency, President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil felicitated Indian carrom team in a special function organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on 21st February 2008 on its winning 15 Medals in the 5th World Carrom Championship held at Cannes, France from 13th to 17th February 2008. Those were blissful and proud moments for the whole carrom fraternity. All carrom players felt elated and encouraged.
The world champions were also felicitated in Parliament House, New Delhi by Shri Jai Parkash Agarwal, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on 20th February 2008 in a special function followed by sumptuous lunch. Every member of the Indian contingent was thrilled and was over the moon on being able to enter and see the President House and the Parliament House.
As part of promotional activities, the Federation, to create awareness and interest among sportspersons of Asian countries, demonstrated the game of carrom during 9th ASIAD (Asian Games) held in 1982 at New Delhi. The game was included in ‘Apna Utsav’ organised at New Delhi under the direct control of the then Prime Minister, late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. Such an exposure gave a big boost to the game of carrom. In 1994, the Federation organized a special carrom tournament for Parliamentarians at New Delhi. Mr. M.A.A. Fatimi, M.P. from Darbangha, Bihar won Men’s title while Ms Bhawna Chikalia, M.P. from Gujarat won Women’s title. Mr. Prithviraj Chauhan, M.P. got Runners-up position in Men’s category.
The Federation for the first time in 1961 sent the Indian players abroad to Sri Lanka for participating in an Open Tournament in Colombo. Indian players won the top positions. Thereafter, Indian and Sri Lankan Federations decided to have Indo-Sri Lanka Test Series and both the countries are playing Test Series both in men and women categories regularly. Now the Series is conducted every two years alternatively in each country. The Federation later introduced the Test Series with Germany, U.K. and France. The Federation played a significant role in formation of the International Carrom Federation and appointed Mr. B. Bangaru Babu as Convenor to initiate and complete the formalities for forming the International Federation. He organised several preliminary meetings in 1984 in India and in 1985 at Zurich, Switzerland and again at Delhi in 1987. Indian team participated in the first ever international tournament i.e. Inter-Continental Test Series held at Zurich, Switzerland during November 1985. Ultimately, it hosted the first World Carrom Congress on 15th October 1988 at Hotel Chola Sheraton, Chennai. The Congress decided to form the International Carrom Federation (ICF) and elected Mr. B. Bangaru Babu as the first Secretary General and Mr. Martin Meier of Switzerland as first President of the ICF. The Federation got it affiliated to the International Carrom Federation (ICF). Later, Mr. S.K. Sharma of India was elected as Secretary General of the ICF in 2001 and 2006. Mr. B. Bangaru Babu after being appointed Convenor for the Asian Carrom Confederation in 1991 was elected Secretary General cum Treasurer of the Asian Carrom Confederation on its formation in 1995 in Maldives. Since then, the Federation participated in all activities conducted by the ICF and ACC. The Federation has so far fielded Indian Carrom Teams in 49 international events including 20 Test Series with different countries. It is regularly organizing Coaching Camps before each international event. Indian carrom team has won all international tournaments. The Federation organised 10 major international tournaments in India – (1) 1st World Carrom Championships in 1991 at New Delhi, (ii) 3rd World Carrom Championships in 2000 at New Delhi, (iii) 8th SAARC Countries Carrom Championship in 2004 at New Delhi, (iv) 2nd World Cup Carrom Tournament in 2006 at New Delhi (v) 2nd Asian Carrom Championship in 2007 at Raipur (Chattisgarh) and (vi) 11th SAARC Countries Carrom Championship in 2007 at Nagpur (Maharashtra) besides conducting regular Test Series with Sri Lanka and Germany. (vii) 3rd Asian Carrom Championship in 2009 at Pune and (viii) 13th SAARC Countries Carrom Championship in 2009 at Mumbai (ix) 17th SAARC Countries Carrom Championship in 2013 at Kolkata (x)5th Asian Carrom Championship in 2013 at Kolkata.
In 1981, the Federation celebrated Silver Jubilee of the Federation. Later, it celebrated its Golden Jubilee on completion of its 50 years and launched year long Golden Jubilee Celebrations in an effervescent function held on 4th March 1956 at ‘The Crystal’, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The function included musical evening by professional artists, aerial display of fireworks for about 10 minutes, release of balloons and pigeons, presentation of specially composed CARROM song, felicitation of gold medalist carrom players from India, felicitation of all former and present office-bearers of the Federation including founder General Secretary of the Federation, Dr. R.S. Cunniah and Presidents/ Secretaries of all affiliated units of the Federation besides prize distribution of the 1st Test Match of the Indo-Sri Lanka Test Series. The Chief Guest felicitated every player/official with especially designed golden jubilee wooden memento, shawl, silk garland and a bunch of rose flowers. A galaxy of carrom stars (gold medallists Indian carrom players, former and current office-bearers, Presidents & Secretaries of State Associations, Sub-Committee/Life Members of AICF, few umpires, carrom friends, manufacturers of carrom equipments and invited guests) attended the function. Sri Lankan team members were also present in the function as special guests. The function was followed by a gala dinner in a magnificent ambience. Display of sports quotations of world famous athletes and well-known sports celebrities in the function premises made the environment momentous. The Federation organised similar function during 2nd World Cup Carrom Tournament on the evening of 19th November 2006, as part of its Golden Jubilee Celebrations. It organized a musical Award Nite in the Grand Ball Room of Tivoli Garden Hotel, New Delhi to honour with special Golden Jubilee Awards various Indian players who brought laurels to the country, Indian officials in recognition of their contribution for the promotion of this game in India and another set of special awards titled ‘Shann-e-Carrom’ were presented to all office-bearers of the International Carrom Federation and Presidents/Secretaries of national federations for their contribution for the promotion of this game at international level. Not only the Awards were presented and players/officials honoured, all the participants of the World Cup, Indian umpires, officials and guests were entertained with songs and dances by professional artists. All the participants and guests were thrilled by fantastic performances of those artists. Many participants participated and danced on the music. The Federation organised another Golden Jubilee function during the Senior National Championship on 23rd March 2007 at Kolkata and felicitated all national champions in a grand function with musical evening followed by gala dinner.