‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

Population of Uttar Pradesh: 166 million; No of teams in the Indian Premier League: 0

Population of Maharashtra: 97 million; No of IPL teams: 2

Population of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh: 1/3rd of India’s; No of IPL teams: 0

Population of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala: 1/4th of India’s; No of IPL teams: 4


The cricket writer and historian Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“This maldistribution of IPL franchises undermines its claim to be ‘Indian’, and is in defiance of sporting history and achievement as well. The truth is that citizenship and cricket have been comprehensively trumped by the claims of commerce….

“The Indian Premier League may be more appropriately renamed the League of Privileged Indians. For this tournament both reflects and further intensifies a deep divide between the India of wealth and entitlement and the India—or Bharat—of poverty and disenfranchisement….

“The promoters of the IPL claim to be speaking on behalf of Indian cricket. However, the polarizing instincts of their tournament run counter to—and threaten to defeat—the inclusive and democratizing trends that were inaugurated by the victory of the Indian cricket team in the 1983 World Cup and the boom in satellite television that followed….

“Whether by chance or design, the IPL shall establish a new hierarchy between the centres and cities it favours and those that it doesn’t, a hierarchy that has all to do with economic privilege and nothing to do with sport…. To be sure, the IPL has not created or constructed these inequalities—but it has certainly confirmed and consolidated them.”

Read the full article: The party of privilege

Photograph: courtesy Businessweek

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31 Responses to “‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’”

  1. Aiyoo! Says:

    IPL is not a democracy. It is a business venture. So the comparisons with democracies are misplaced. Maybe you have been watching too much IPL.

    Business Ventures are not meant to be democratic. They can at best be transparent (which IPL is not).

    Please do not confuse IPL with democracy or even with cricket for that matter.

    IPL can only get as democratic as bollywood.

  2. ASHOK Says:

    Everything is just not simple statistics. It means to say that if India has the second largest population, can they declared as the most developed country?

    Can they be given more number of gold medals in the Olympics?. Can they become straight walkovers in to football, hockey and cricket world cup finals?

    We have quota system in every walk of life, education, assembly even in Tirupati and on the ration cards.

    Why should we make sports too based on quota?. IPL is played purely on the individual merit and the business prospects and the organizers would have done the home work before arriving at a combination. If the politicians are given the chance, they would have made based on the number of states, UTs, SC/ST (Ex serviceman quota) not to mention influential quotas.

    Whether this is right or not, it is best to be left to the organizers.

    I am surprised that a well known person is making such a comment


    Indian means anything that happens on the indian soil or by an indian.

    Is our indian army has the exact proposition as per the size of the states. There are tendencies in all aspetcs that there is more concentration in one area.

    To be an Indian am I supposed to learn all Indian Languages? Or I am 3/4 th Indian because I am from a small town.

  3. Flatfooter Says:

    How does it matter if an IPL team is called Royal Challengers Bangalore or Mumbai Indians? First, the players are not restricted to that specific state and the franchisees are business tycoons or people with lots of money, who want to make more money!
    And the fact that IPL has foreign players takes the steam out of the argument on democracy..
    True, IPL is a huge money making industry but even if we have teams only from the second rung states (UP, Bihar, Assam etc), I don’t think it’ll be any different except that the money involved will be less!

  4. Khalil Sawant Says:

    The absence of participation of UP/Bihar/MP in IPL is a problem that goes beyond cricket, although UP in particular has produced good notable cricketers of late (Kaif, Raina, RP, Praveen Kumar)
    As pointed in above comment, it is not wise to consider IPL to be some sort of a socialist exercise.
    But yes we could have done with a Kanpur team rather than Kochi.

  5. Kulkarni Says:

    why they always keep forgetting states like jharkhand, uttarakhand, chhattisgarh, Orrisa and west Bengal. Looks like people from these states are more alien than any firangi.
    Or maybe people from these states are free from firangi cricket, firangi lifestyle (dumb english MNC culture) and (…. the list goes on) while others seems to be there slave for decades. GOI must scrap IPL, BCCI, ISRO, DRDO, BARC etc. and send all money to poor states like jharkhand, uttarakhand, chhattisgarh, Orrisa and west Bengal and all North-Eastern States and let us see some reasonable developments.

    Disparities be it in income or in distribution of resources or anything is always unfair in India. blackmail Centre and get what you want is the only working policy of the day. And if you are from any of the above said states then “shut up!! go to your forests,hunt animals and live a miserable life. if you can!!!!!!!”

  6. Sachin Says:

    Let’s start again. No of Hindoos in India – 82%, No of Muslims – 13%. So atleast 1 team should be all Muslim
    People living below poverty line — 50% ah! 1/2 the teams should be represented by BPL families..
    Roughly 50% of Indians are women – wait, not a single women team!

    Why do these people label themselves intellectuals?

  7. Alok Says:

    yeah aiyoo said it all.

    cricket is not democracy, nor is business. They can only be part of but not in and of themselves, democratic.

    By that definition, the internet, English, the free press and consequently, churumuri are also not democratic.

  8. devadiga Says:

    Not to worry..Mulayams,Amar singhs,Mayawatis and Lalus will be defintely ready to buy franchises with tonnes of money to spare.Its too early give Lalit Modi some time..

  9. Santhosh Says:

    With all due respects to Mr.Guha, his article makes no sense at all. It takes us back to pre 1990 era. Let India have some shades of capitalism, do not make it into another Russia!! Eventually some investor will be interested in a team from these democratically deprived(!) parts of the country and IPL will grow from 10 to maybe 16 teams. But please do not bring regionalism into picture here. And just for the sake of argument, Rohit Sharma playing for DC, Agarkar playing for KKR and Rayudu playing for MI itself has gone above and beyond Democracy and please excuse the cliche`, helped the cause of unity.

  10. Karihaida Says:

    This just emphasises the need for quota and reservation in IPL or else it is ‘cricket naxalism.’
    BTW this guy started as ‘cricket’ historian, became ‘regular’ historian… now what type of historian is he? or is he like the TV analysts xxx (political, business, defenece etc) analyst depending on the season?

  11. maald Says:

    Ramachandra Guha, churumuri’s resident intellectual for all matters requiring an IQ of more than 60 ..

  12. Melange Says:

    “Writing about the dangerous growth of inequality in India, the economist, Amartya Sen, warned some years ago that if present trends continued, half of India would look like the American state of California, the other half like sub-Saharan Africa.”

    Would Mr.Amartya Sen rather have all of India look like sub-Saharan Africa?

    The IPL is a private league. Mr.Guha is mistaking it for a government or a quasi political enterprise that can dole out teams to cities based on all sorts of bizarre statistical contortions.

    Indian cities have always had an hierarchical structure starting from the days of Doordarshan when weather forecasts were made as though India was just comprised of four cities. The powers that be have always favored some cities to the detriment of the others. This would have been a fantastic article if Mr.Guha had highlighted how bureaucratic and centralized control have ruined India’s towns and cities; How all development is limited to certain select capitals. Instead, all He cares about is some stupid cricket league.

  13. Raja Chandra Says:

    If the Devil finds a Man idle, he’ll set him at work !

    So called Historian should have a re-look at the National Cricket Tournament- aka Ranji Trophy first ! We have in Mumbai, Maharashtra & Vidhraba three teams; in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh – 2 teams; in Saurashtra, Gujarat & Baroda – 3 teams…..

    What is this crap of inclusive and democratizing trends …….

  14. pulikeshi the last Says:

    Why does Guha look like a brown version of a younger Bill Gates in this picture?

  15. Faldo Says:

    The IPL follows a bidding system to allot franchises to cities. Obviously these would go to the highest bidders who would generally back financially well off or cities with a large cricket following and where infrastructure and law and order is relatively better.
    It is pertinent to note that even the Sahara group which is headquartered in Lucknow and whose founder has roots in Bihar did not choose any of those states but chose Pune from Maharashtra. The same argument about democracy can be raised about airline operations or any other major business venture in India. Just four to five cities account for over half of the air traffic. The reverse argument can be used when it comes to states paying taxes or getting their share of funds from the center. Are these things democratic? Not at all. Commerce definitely would come up trumps here.

  16. TKM Says:

    India is big enough to have multiple test cricket teams to take on all the test playing countries of the world simultaneously. But, then, should all the regions of India should be producing enough talented players, isn’t it? IPL can and will get representation from UP/Bihar and other regions when IPL like ventures spread the cricket craze all over India, which of course is happening already. But, hope at the same time, that these ventures don’t reduce the cricket to ‘chitty, chitty, bang, bang, affair and drown the other sports.

  17. dharma Says:

    Population of Uttar Pradesh: 166 million; No Guha

    Population of Maharashtra: 97 million; No Guha

    Population of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh: 1/3rd of India’s; No Guha

    Population of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala: 1/4th of India’s; No Guha
    Karnataka Guha 1
    So what, we still have people who live in huts, earn a meager salary, only when they have work that day they have food for the family, they are the people who make the Indian economy grow but have no defense over the price rise, still they are not Mr Guha.
    What a paradox!!

  18. jobless Says:

    stupid article. whats democracy got to do with ipl i say? does guha wants people to elect players to play for a team?

  19. vasant Says:

    Well said Guhaji. But the case in point never made any other sense except for a marriage of convenience between Cricket & sports. The Cricket element of it though is still in doubt, atleast to my mind; they could have done better with a baseball bat or a golf club!

  20. Ullasa Vadan Says:

    Why do we have so many Prime Ministers from UP and not even one from Maharastra or Tamil Nadu or Kerala Or Orissa or Bihar? Where is democracy for PMship? Is it only that Cricket needs to be following all the rules and nobody else?

    BCCI is the only sports administration who knows how to maximise their money and they are doing it. In turn they are popularising the sport. Hockey Federation about 5 years ago tried the same but were not professional enough to succeed even though ESPN-Star supported them and braodcast all the matches.

    People cannot digest if others are successful and always look to pick problems. Mr. Guha, if you do not like it do not watch but please do not talk such nonsense.

  21. Ggowada Says:

    Ha !Ha ! Democratization of IPL franchise. What a fantastic idea!. All major political parties are sure to include free distribution of cricket bats and balls in their next election manifesto and demand selection of teams on the basis of reservation rules. Really it will be an ultimate achievement of democracy

  22. vam Says:

    A typical secular article. I see many a similarity with this article and the ones written by other Seculars like Jayanti Natarajan, replies by Manu Singhvi (the man with no verb)…

    This is what happens when the media allows people to believe that they are right always…

    The comments by bloggers to this article restate that we have many right thinking people. Only they are not true to their selves when their identities visible…

  23. Deepak Says:

    What nonsense! People like these create trouble with their poking noses everywhere! Next they will ask for Muslim team considering their population, next will be Dalit team considering on the subjugation bogey and so on….

    These intelligensia types are the ones that are really screwing things in this nation!

  24. sudhir Says:

    It’s surprising he has not spoken about states like Nagaland,Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir. One more of those crappy, communist pieces by Guha

  25. Datta Says:

    I am surprised by Guha’s comments! Before analyzing how democratic Indian cricket (or IPL) is may be he should analyze how democratic is Indian democracy itself. After all, IPL is driven by commercial interests and it roughly follows supply-demand principles, not a constitution.

    May be he should spend more time analyzing Indian democracy: Of the 14 prime ministers India had, only two are from the south (PVN & Deve Gowda – for less than a year). Is that democracy? Most of the PMs have been either due to dynasty or because someone in a dynasty felt like it – is that democracy? You cannot win an election without inducement – is that democracy? Most young parliamentarians in India belong to dynasties – is that democracy? Despite their obvious political advantage, the north Indian states have not managed to “develop” the same way south Indian states have. May be Guha should think more about such issues, than unnecessarily trying to relate IPL to democratic values!

  26. Jagirdar Says:

    It’s all about money, honey. Will the impoverished brothers of the Hindi belt pay for the tickets for any of these matches?

  27. Anonymous Guy Says:

    I dont see what democratization existed in cricket before IPL. The Indian team at any time is skewed with players from a few centers. How many national cricketers do we know from the entire North East? On the other hand it is easy to name cricketers from Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and a few such centers by the dozen.

    About the analogy between Mass/California and rest of country, isnt it better that a growing part of the country is moving upwards, rather than everyone stagnating? What other way to progress?

  28. Humanist Says:

    What monumental inanity.

    Delhi is hogging maximum resources and modernizing at a rapid pace. What about other Indian cities? That’s the question this guy should be asking.

  29. IPL tamasha Says:

    IPL is no more a sport, pls someone remove it from sports column and replace it in business column or entertainment column. I feel WWE would be far better than watching IPL!

  30. Gowtham Says:

    Haha, IPL is entertainment for sure. The business sees money in it, so they go for it. Why do you want to go tell them “You are not allowed to make money”? People are willing to pay for the fun, so they are happier. Why do you want to worry about it?
    Ok, there are arguments that the money is not going to the poor. Let’s say that you disband IPL. Will the rich then give the money to the poor? No person in his right mind will!
    However note that if the rich earn a lot of money through IPL, 35% of it goes to taxes and that tax money can actually be used by the government to help the poor. Yeah, the rich will get richer, but I don’t agree that the poor becomes poorer because of IPL.
    Besides, the amount of water and maintenance required of 1 cricket stadium is not so much compared to the entertainment value of IPL.
    Also, if you want India to become good at cricket, the government cannot put money in cricket, only the businesses and people can. You don’t want to prevent them from doing that.

  31. SYED AMIR ALI Says:

    EMAIL: syedamira@ymail.com
    MOBILE NO. 0091 8127559439

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