Ostrich Syndrome!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why I hate the IPL

To qualify as an Indian, it is essential that you love cricket, it is important that you gossip, it is vital to fall in love with pelvic thrusting actors and cajoling actresses on the celluloid screen and it is quintessential that you make money the quick (and sometimes the wrong) way. The saga of Indian Premier League (IPL), the beleaguered cricket league of India, is no exception to these general rules of Indianness. The vulgar display of money, power and beauty is there for all to see. From selfish business tycoons to iconic players, all adorn the masala called IPL. It is surely entertainment at its best. The kind of recipe which made a friend’s eighty-five year old grandma vouch for a team (it’s a different matter that she can’t make out why the two brothers, called “mid off” and “mid on” play for every team!)’. IPL is fun as long as it confines itself to the cricketing field. Last week the game spilled over, flooding our fragile democratic institutions and drowning a lot in its wake.
To believe that all what happened in the last couple of weeks is the result of an ego clash between Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor would be rather stupid and na├»ve. In fact are we being made to believe that a shrewd businessman and a newly crowned politician do have an ego? Doesn’t make sense to me. In all its three years of existence, IPL was not about cricket. It was about money. About a lot of money! The unprecedented value of the IPL was too much to be resisted by all - politicians, administrators, business moguls, cine stars. Everyone wanted a piece of this rich pie. But are we really interested in the Tharoors, Pawars, Ambanis and Modis? Corruption in the IPL does not really worry me. From the day of its conception the IPL was not a sanctum sanctorum. “Brand IPL” as it is tried to be labeled by those who believe in the politics and power of “brands” was a hot bed of vested interests. It was an outlet for black money. Yes, they also played cricket to keep the likes of us think that the league represented a sport so close to a billion Indian hearts.
The financial aspects of IPL are not only murky but an eye opener for those who thought that India was a poor nation with more than forty percent population living below the poverty line. The total value of IPL, which even Mr Modi cannot predict with surety, is expected to be around 70000 crores. This unaccounted money is available to the richest people of India. No doubt the rich got richer in the IPL. Compare this to a cumulative expenditure of mere Rs. 27.59 crores in the prestigious National Rural Guarantee Scheme of the Government of India for the state of Orissa in 2008-09. The Orissa example is even more glaring as this is the state where hunger deaths are reported on a regular basis. Some may argue and correctly so, that it is foolhardiness to compare a government scheme with a privately owned sporting event which is meant for entertainment. Sure, but this is the best way to show how India entertains and Bharat survives under one roof. The contrast of IPL money and the lack of it in governmental schemes shows the divergence of thought and responsibility which goes in making India a nation of such huge contradictions. It is this thought process which gives birth to Maoists, Naxals and other elements of state defiance. With the muck and shame of IPL written large on the faces of corporate and political class of India, words of our Hon. Home Minister, Shri P Chidambaram sound so hollow, “we shall counter the Maoists with force. They are the gravest internal security threat to our country”. How can we even expect to believe a word of what he says? Maoists, Naxals, Naga Militia. Are any of these a bigger threat to the nation than the financial scamsters of IPL? Shouldn’t the equation be set right now? May be one Maoist for every thug involved in the IPL? How about “neutralising” the threat of Lalit Modi and his brigade before “neutralising” the alleged mastermind of the Dantewada massacre, Ramanna Paparao?
IPL even described socialism in its own new way. According to a report released just before the end of IPL2 (2009) by the equity research firm IIFL, Rajasthan Royals, the team representing Jaipur would have made the highest profit of Rs 35.1 crore in the group matches of the second edition of the tournament even when their performance was below par compared to their champion status of 2008. Knight Riders, which finished at the bottom in the league table in South Africa, nevertheless ended up with the third highest profit of Rs 25.8 crore in IPL 2. King’s XI representing Punjab, which also did not make it to the semis, just beat Kolkata to second spot with a profit of Rs 26.1 crore. How interesting is that! Teams doing poorly in terms of cricket will not necessarily fare poor in their financial gains. It looks as if Lalit Modi and his gang of franchises have defined what could be called as “IPL Socialism”.
The IPL also represents a loot of public funds, my and your money, which doesn’t even get noticed. Each day & night match of the IPL played under flood lights, consumes electricity enough to run 500 average Indian homes for a month. The provision of subsidised electricity doesn’t make things any different. It is believed that the average electricity bill for a single day and night cricket match of the IPL is more than 15000 US Dollars. For those interested in numbers, this is the government’s expenditure on health for ten adult Indians if they live up to an age of 70 years (at the rate of 21 dollars PPP). Water, a deficient resource in cities like Mumbai and Delhi is used to keep the fields green during the IPL. This, in a country which is now at the top of the childhood malnutrition charts of the globe with lack of clean water being the primary cause of a large number of infant and childhood morbidity and mortality.
The money and its earthy use in the IPL is a matter of shame for each Indian. We all love cricket but surely not in a way in which Lalit Modi packed it for us. The very fact that a large part of our society is still deprived of basic daily needs including food should always weigh heavily on our conscience. Why are we as civil society becoming oblivious to the needs of the common Indian? How can we even accept an Agriculture Minister presiding over the functions of the IPL when hundreds of farmers are committing suicide day in and day out? How are we justified in condemning the Maoists when the Indian society gives them an IPL every now and then? If the law of the land does not permit theft, how can it allow this unprecedented day light robbery? The vulgarity of IPL stands defiant. If Mr. Lalit Modi and his band of filchers cannot feel for the poor they should at least respect poverty.


Irfan said...

I think the problem with IPL is only that it has never paid it taxes. They have tried to bypass a lot of tax laws. They are exposed now. So what ? In a land where mass murderers, scoundrels and criminals have risen to high political offices, the IPL is not a very serious issue and it should not convulse the nation.

They have provided very good "masala" entertainment and have also been a source of escape from the daily dreary existance of the "aam admi". Their sole job was to entertain and they have done just that. I don't understand why they must also become champions of social equality as well. They have ably and admirably provided what they had said they would provide - masala entertainment. If there are hungry and needy Indians it is the sarkars fault and we know that the problem with the Govt is not lack of plans or funds but humungous and malignant corruption at ALL levels. If people are going hungry and farmers are comitting suicide I see no reason why IPL biradri should feel guilty about it. Is it the IPL's problem that grain in tonnes is rotting away in Punjab ? The Govt should address this issue and other 'roti kapda aur makan" issues with the great zeal and gusto demonstrated while dealing with the homosexuality and live-in problems. Is it not lamentable and paradoxical that the latter were looked into first ? Surely hunger and malnutrition are more pressing matters.

The movers and shakers of the country have invested in IPL and I see nothing wrong in that either. The IPL should pay its taxes regularly, L Modi need not resign nor feel guilty. IPL is not a charity house. It must be ensured that they pay for the bijli-paani they use. If immorality can be decriminalised so should betting and gambling. As a matter of fact it should be nationalised and made taxable and as legit as investing in the stock market. IPL will then also be a source of revenue like betting at the horse races.

The problems with us, Indians, is that we get a lot of perverted satisfaction in pulling down the high and mighty whom we place on a high pedestal at the onset.

I will end by saying that the vulgarity of IPL stands defiant, as defiant as the Taj Mahal.

Shah Alam said...

Dear Irfan,
Thanks for a lucid"other"view of the IPL. Sorry but I disagree that it is only a tax issue. No I am not asking the IPL and it's bosses to be more equitable socially. In fact a farce called "social responsibility of the corporate world" does exist in that world. Corruption, you are right, is rampant everywhere. It is the blatant and defiant use of power, resources, media space and and the Exchequer's money which makes me so scornful of the IPL. There is a difference between the IPL and the Taj. The taj earns for the nation, IPL for the rich. In fact last year Taj was one of the largest foreign exchange earner of the country.
Yes hungry Indians are the responsibility of the government and again the government machinery is busy with the IPL., trying to make good money out of this brand. How can we explain the time which the Parliament wastes on the IPL? Time which could have been used on more useful issues of daily Indian life.
Do you know that there is another cricket league in the country called the ICL run by Zee TV. It is much older than the IPL and six or seven teams with Lahore Badshah being the most prominent. Inzamam & Saqlain Mushtaq play for them. Since this is not recognised by the BCCI and the IPL, they are not allwed to use the normal cricketing venues. Cricket pitches which have been ploughed by our money cannot be used by the "lowlies"as it causes a dent in the market valueof the IPL. Do you think this is OK in a democratic country? I don't care if the likes of Lalit Modi and his gang buy heritage Havelis with this money but I do care when IPL with all its vulgarity (which is beautified as entertainment) encroaches on rights of the common Indians. It is surely not about corruption it goes beyond that. Entertainment is also provided by Bollywood but I can palpate the difference.
Hope you understand.
Shah Alam

Raza Imam said...

Very well said.

Ashni Srivastava said...

Great writing again Shah Alam. It is sad but true..... IPL has become one grand tamasha. I wonder if anything will be done to set things back on track. India is a paradox of extremes... which end should one start rebuilding from? My logic tells me from the bottom up.

Keep up your writing. I enjoy reading it.

Best wishes,

KSS Nair said...

Dear Dr.Khan,
Salutes to you again. Wonderfully expressed what most Indians feel about IPL and such dubious leagues. What is the remedy? A handful of crooks are taking the majority of us for a ride.

KSS Nair

Nagendra said...

Truly very well said sir. This Illegal Paisa Laundering should end. This form has become all sort of possible black/whie money management system. See the another parallel news Mr. Ketan has been found with 1.5 ton gold in his house all from medical donations. Seems he only was driving recent price rise in gold :). Yes our India is poor only for poor, Rs 70000 cr, IPL, Rs 5000 cr(From ketan, and still counting)... all shows the cruel truth of our deeply divided rich and poor...
Also in one of the comment Irfan was saying if IPL pays taxes all is well. But do consider taxes even after correcting the tax laws will be paid only when they will show profit? Will they show profit? Do not think so.

Anonymous said...

Please clarify what you mean by the term: "the total value of IPL," and also state the direct or indirect sources used in estimating the same at Rs. 70,000/- crores.

Shah Alam Khan said...

Dear Mr/Ms Anonymous,
The total value of IPL is the value attached to each player (that is the price paid by the franchise for each player) plus the sponsorships plus the telecast rights plus the benami money involved in the IPL. The figure of 70000 crores is available on a number of news webpages, financial companies eg IIFL, news channels, etc. On a lighter note it is not as anonymous as you are to all of us on this blog:)

karan a said...

@Shah Alam: A very nice analysis done by you. I agree with you on most of the points. I also agree with Irfan to an extent.

My point is who will guard us when the protectors join the other side of the table...

The interested entities (read money making and corrupt entities) in IPL include top leaders, bureaucrats, corporate honchoes, Bollywood's whos who and many other unrevealed entities. The media is always biased and its credibility is always questionable. So, agaisnt whom are we raising our voice? Who is going to guard the public fund, morality and rationality.

Mr. Shashank Manohar told the press that if Mr. Modi convince the board in his reply, that he is fair (and he hasnt done anything wrong beyond acceptable limits), charges against him will be dropped. In short he is just mentioning that Mr. Modi has 15 days to negotiate "how much" to share amongst themselves and the charges will be dropped!

Ajit R. Jadhav said...

Dear Dr. Shah Alam Khan,

Yesterday's "Anonymous," asking about the estimate re. IPL's value, was me. I was in a hurry yesterday, and chose the most convenient option---also thinking that what was being said might be found more important than who was saying it, esp. so if you can afford to have anonymous comments. (Also, yesterday, I had not had made a search on your name and thus got to know that you teach at AIIMS, and so was not in a particular frame of mind to treat even this blog very seriously---I had just taken a link off Churumuri.)

Actually, before writing my yesterday's comment, I had also tried to get some money-related data, to put the IPL issue in context, but couldn't succeed in readily finding it on the Internet. More on this, on my upcoming post at my blog. (BTW, this isn't an ad for my blog---which is another thing people do something accuse you of, if you give out your own URL in comments on other blogs... sigh.)

Anyway, thanks for replying to my comment.

Today, I searched and found that the total value of IPL is less than Rs. 20,000/- crores, following this link: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/IPLs-brand-value-growing-and-growing/articleshow/5601276.cms

Also, I didn't find any mention (except for a casual blog entry or two) to indicate substantially more value than this amount. Most other URLs more or less cited amounts that were to a similar scale (they were talking of an IPL team at a time and quoting figures of 3 to 4 thousand crores per team).

So, does this all mean that you mean to ascribe about Rs. 50,000/- to "benami" deals concerning IPL? How did you estimate this huge an amount? Following what method? Or was there a specific reference?

Or, on a somewhat lighter note, do you wish to hint at that Delhi people simply have a way of "knowing" such things?

And then, getting a bit more serious about it: If so, how does one know that there is not a pro-Indira Congress bias to this? After all, that is the party which mainly governs (also) today's India, doesn't it? And, so, on the same lines, one is then left to wonder: If 50,000 crores ride benami on a mere IPL, how many crores do ride this way on India's GDP? (Re. the Indira Congress: This is not a hint that BJP would have done better.)

Anyway, to wind up, if you have some specific references on the extra Rs. 50+ K crores, I would be interested in knowing about them, and so, I would check back this post once more tomorrow; otherwise, this particular thread, by itself, doesn't really interest me outside of that line of thought I mentioned above.

Best wishes,


Nagendra said...

Mr Ajit,
The 20,000 CR you are talking about is only team valuation. In fact considering almost Rs 2000 cr has been paid each by two new teams, the minimum valuation comes to around 20,000 cr, the one you are seeing on several papers, like ET now. But will you consider the same price as that of Kochi and take for example CSK. Further these are the prices that owners have bought in a bidding process which is as transparent as we saw. If you buy a plot from DDA authority at Rs2000 a meter it immediately get sold for Rs 50000 a meter, why? Just because there are more buyer than plots avialable. Similarly here too, you have several people lining up for teams, from the like of Anil Ambani to film stars to all corporates.
If I just assume that existing team are at valuations double to existing one, my calculation says 4000*6+2000*2 = 28000 crore. That will be the price BCCI will sold in an bid. Outside there are more takers? You just see by yourself how much Videocon is ready to pay for kings XI stakes? And do an extrapolation.

Further, sir has incorporated the black money stiff including the businesses done in bettigns, that of tha players etc etc. The figure of 70000 cr, even if not avialable on some sites will not make me think otherwise. Just wait and see when teams are open for sell the coming session. And decide by yourself the actual valuation.

Shah Alam Khan said...

Dear Ajit,
Thanks for the clarification. Well, anybody and everybody is welcome to put his/her comments on the blog. I am a bit skeptical about anonymous comments as the last anonymous comments on the blog (on majority & minority communalism) were in bad taste. I read your remaks with interest. Yes, you are correct there is a huge amount of benami sum associated with the IPL (and I say so not because I am a Delhiwala. In fact I am a UP wala, in Delhi more due to circumstances than with choice!). If you Wikipedia the IPL you will see an elaborate breakup of the IPL teams and the Sony Telecast rights (which in itself are worth $1.94 billion). The IIFL website also had this information in detail. Check the webpage http://www.spot.lk/article16483-ipl-brand-value-doubles-from-previous-year.html The value mentioned here is around $4.13 billion which comes to around Rs. 50000 crores. I also agree with what Nagendra has tried to explain. I really don’t care if the Congress, BJP or any other Tom, Dick & Harry from the political circles were involved in this. I am convinced that such a big scam would not have been possible with put tacit political patronage.
BTW I was not able to understand one of your comments “………thus got to know that you teach at AIIMS, and so was not in a particular frame of mind to treat even this blog very seriously”. You don’t take doctors seriously or do doctors at AIIMS don’t stimulate your imagination. Please clarify.
It was great to have you comment on the blog. I only hope that you keep coming back to this blog and raise the bar for debate. I enjoyed interacting with you.

RAHUL V said...

Wow... I'm seeing the IPL in a whole new Light now. I agree with some of your views. But as Irfan said, In a country where film stars (also the rich and the powerful) can get away with murder, fraud and other crimes, taming the IPl is a secondary issue. We need to tackle much bigger issues. As for Modi and Tharoor, they are both loud mouths that deserved to be put in their place. Such a big franchise needs to be run by someone who is tactful, cool headed and controversy-free. As for the so called 'vulgarity', I strongly disagree with you. We need to be more broad minded and accepting. Cheer leaders are a part of nearly every global sport. Cricket is now trying to reach untouched audiences. Having cheer leaders is more about adding glitz and glamour to the sport, rather than promoting vulgarity.

Shah Alam Khan said...

Thanks Rahul. Your comments do raise a good point to debate. Honestly when I said "vulgarity" I meant the vulgar display of wealth. I have absolutely no issues with the presence or absence of Cheer leaders. In fact those who condemned the IPL because of the cheer leaders are the ones who try to impose themselves on us as our cultural custodians and this is an absolute no-no in a democratic society. But yes, I would still object to the vulgarity of wealth. Every day we see so much of poverty and depriviation around us that we have become insensitive to this vulgar display of money and this is what I hate about the IPL.

RAHUL V said...

Vulgarity referring to the 'vulgar display of wealth'.. well... I agree with you on that one. Glitz and Glamour is one thing, but the IPL has gone a little over board.

Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav said...

Dear Dr. Shah Alam Khan,

Just a couple of clarifications, for now.

1. No, I didn't myself suggest that there would be a huge "benami" sum associated with it. I was just asking that if an "outside" party (it came from a cricket-playing nation, the UK, and not from other nations like Germany or USA) estimates the total value at 20 K crores, and if you say it is 70 K crores, does the rest belong to "benami." It seems you think it does. Frankly, I have no way of estimating...

2. Re. my comment concerning you. Sorry, it was a mistake of composition on my part. I should have said "Also, yesterday, I had not yet made a search on your name, and so, had not yet got to know then that you teach at AIIMS,..." Hope this clarifies the matter.

Whenever people talk sincerely, the debates become enjoyable. Broadly speaking, Reason is enjoyable!


[PS: I am getting OpenID error and so posting using Name/URL]

Miku said...

I am not an Indian but I did enjoy some of the cricket that was played like the rest of the millions who did, and who for the most part just shake their heads and sigh at the unfairness of the other aspects of the game. Most of us cannot do much to stop it. My own small wisdom (if I may call it that) is that the world will roll the way that it will roll, and rather than try to unroll it, try to do the little good that can be done in the short short period we have on this earth. We cannot stop other's greed, we can only stop ourselves and be happy that for all the rest there is at least a few of are different. And there ends my 'simpleton's' viewpoint. Cheers All !