Posts Tagged ‘IPL’

Deve Gowda backs Sreesanth, taunts BCCI again

15 September 2013

20130915-090618 PM.jpg

Former Rajasthan Royals opening bowler S. Sreesanth has just been banned from cricket for life, for putting his hand-towel out of his pant pocket, as a signal to bookies that he will concede “14 runs”, while bowling in the Indian Premier League.

But such stern action against our Malayali brethren doesn’t seem to deter former Indian prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda from openly and even more conspicuously flaunting his towel on his shoulders, at a cricket match, in Bangalore on Saturday.

BCCI officials, Delhi police and ICC “anti-corruption unit” investigators will, of course, note that this is the second time in as many months that the ex-PM has taunted the “towel rule” that felled Sreesanth for “spot-fixing” in this year’s IPL, and that this time his towel has a green border.

On both occasions, “Mr Deve” has done so in the full presence of mediamen, this time with the president of the Press Club of Bangalore, Ramakrishna Upadhya, bang behind him.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Is Deve Gowda guilty of match-fixing?

Is ex-PM Deve Gowda guilty of ‘spot-fixing’?

9 July 2013

Photo Caption

S. Sreesanth has only just gotten out of the clutches of Delhi’s hyper-efficient police for using a hand-towel tucked into his pyjama as a sign to his bookmaker friends that he will bowl a few bad ones, and….

And former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda brazenly flaunts a towel on his shoulder as he takes guard at a cricket match organised by journalists in his home-district, Hassan, on Sunday.

What secret signal could HDD be sending?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Across the line, feet wide apart, head still high

If only Robin Utthappa had played as straight

IPL fixing system runs on Mac, Linux or Vindoos?

5 June 2013


The IPL spotfixing meets betting saga, starring Thiru Shantakumaran Sreesanthan Nair, Gurunath Meiyappan and Narayanaswamy Srinivasan, as seen through the eyes of Sri S.R. Ramakrishna and Sri Satish Acharya of Talk magazine.

Also read: A Spaghetti eastern that makes you say, ‘Basta’

It’s unofficial, our democracy has a bribe future

Rama rajya is gone; Siddarama rajya is here

IPL scorecard: Morality c Avarice b Greed

4 June 2013

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: In the labyrinths of hell, inside its boiling cauldrons, through its unfathomable maze of blood-curdling monstrosities, of the macabre, the cadaverous and the ghoulish,  in the sepulchral dankness of it all, there is perhaps a spot of idyll.

But at the moment, not in Indian cricket for sure.

The shock and shame of an international cricketer in police custody, an absolutely arrogant and defiant cricket board chief who thinks he personally owns Indian cricket, the strange term called spot-fixing, where anything on a cricket field can be orchestrated by men with shades of grey in their hearts and souls, for whom the smell of money and more and more money is more fragrant than all the legendary scents of Arabia.

Men of the same mental conditioning as maniacal terrorists, except that here they deal in cold cash, not cold blood!

Men who don’t think twice before plunging a dagger of deceit into the very hearts of the game’s fans, the millions glued to television sets inside homes and at street side cafes; fans who come to cheer lustily for their favourite teams; fans, most of whom have saved up to their last penny to get hold of a ticket to get into a stadium and revel in the joy of seeing their idols in flesh and blood on the field; to enjoy the headiness of it all and forget for a few euphoric hours the bleakness of their own lives.

Such a travesty of faith that these multitude of fans have been brushed aside, their feelings trampled with the finality of an angry elephant’s foot.

And amidst all this mayhem, the silence of the legends!

The legends of the game occupy a very high pedestal in the hearts of their fans, in the very pantheon of the game. Fantabulous creatures, their lives, as a result of their rare deeds on a cricket field, awash in folklorish superstardom.

But to stand up and speak from the interiors of their existences, to put the hand up and make it to be counted, to utter weighty words of meaning and responsibility, to show from their very being, the all-important sense of anguish and disappointment and outrage.

Seemingly, not on their busy agenda.

To react forcefully to the manner in which their own game, the game they love and live for, is being marauded by scums and scoundrels, all for a few rupees more than the millions already earned and credited to their accounts officially.Those traitors who seemingly have the same proclivity of a serpent that can bite the very hand that holds it.

But then, the serpent is a mere animal.

In the silence of the legends is the silence of conspiracy. Not one of complicity but the complicity of convenience, the collaboration of selective deafness to the painful moans of the game itself and blindness to the ghastly sights of monumental murder, the murder of probity and earnestness in Indian cricket.

That the game has been brought to serious disrepute is not on their minds, that the name and image of Indian cricket has been tarnished and lies in a sad heap of shabby shreds is not their botheration. That young boys who ought to have been taken under their wings and shown the path of morality now find themselves in police custody is not their concern.

But alas, what matters to them are their professional contracts with the cricket board and the resultant lucre that accrues.

Is that all there is to their lives?

To ignore the future of the very game that got them to the station they find themselves in, in life, is the very definition of self-preservation. Men with their ability for heroics and the capacity to handle pressure and adversity and perform scintillatingly in the presence of a million baying spectators almost all through their sporting careers.

Men who came to be known as legends of the game.

Such men to owe a sense of a fatherly responsibility to the game is fundamental to the very basis of their existence. Not for nothing are they deified as great players. Not every cricketer who bowled a cricket ball or wielded the cricket bat has come to be known as legendary after all!

Just to name some immediate names like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, notwithstanding the fact that the last two have made some semblance of a statement regarding the need to clean the rubbish in the bin of Indian cricket, for them to behave as if they all played hockey for India and not cricket is simply amusing.

Their silence makes it look like they don’t belong to the game at all.

Come on gentlemen, bowl that one unplayable ball once again or essay that one marvellous stroke one more time so that the score board of Indian cricket looks respectable.

If we may inform you, right now it reads, morality caught avarice bowled greed! As for the runs, like the money, you can add whatever is feasible to both sides!

Government is corrupt, what about corporates?

25 May 2013

T.N. Ninan, editorial director of Business Standard, in his weekly ruminations, against the backdrop of the IPL and Ranbaxy scandals:

“Pillorying the government of the day for pervasive corruption is the easy thing to do, whereas it might just be an escapist option. It helps those of us who are neither in politics nor in the government to pretend that we are not tainted, and therefore have the right to point fingers at politicians, who we assume are not. The truth, as recent events have brought home forcefully, is that corruption has permeated fields that have nothing to do with politics and government….

“If the canker is widespread, there have to be systemic solutions. An obvious step is to come down hard on anyone who is caught, as a lesson to everyone else. System legitimacy suffers only when businessmen find ways of avoiding being brought to justice. But perhaps the worst outcome would be to treat this as just one more kind of reality TV, for nightly entertainment. All troubling questions can be evaded if we just watch Arnab Goswami shout at, hector and pillory his “guests” for an hour every night, for thereby we’ve earned our absolution!”

The cricketer turned commentator Geoffrey Boycott suggests that it might have to do with our genes:

“We don’t seem to get it in other countries. It seems to be around in Asia. And that’s not me being against Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis. You know me, I love that part of the world. They are very kind and good to me, particularly the Indian and Pakistani people, where I’ve been a lot.

“But I’m telling you the truth, it seems to surface in Asia. And once you’ve got all this money floating around in a huge game with millions and millions involved, you’re going to get problems. It’s going to resurface again.”

The Hindu‘s sports editor Nirmal Shekar laughs at our hypocrisy:

“This is who we are, as Indians. While we need not be ashamed about it, let us not pretend that our own brand of neo-liberalism, which has produced a socio-cultural climate that makes it possible for the aspiring Indian middle classes — I use the plural advisedly — to unabashedly revel in the celebrity cesspool and pretend that we are squeaky clean is, at best, hypocritical, at worst, suicidal.

“For, cricket does not exist in a vacuum; it is not a cosy world safely tucked away from the dark, dirty, often cruel, and real, world in which we live, as Indians.

“A lot of us wishfully think that this might turn out to be India’s century or, in the least, an India-China century. But if you chose to do away with those rose-tinted glasses — a gift from opportunistic politicians and an acquiescent media — and mentally prepared yourself to stare truth in its face, then you will get an idea about where we really are.”

Also read: Question: which is India’s most secular religion?

India’s most secular religion has to be corruption

Corruption, religion, spirituality and the Dalai Lama

CHURUMURI POLL: Will you ever trust IPL again?

17 May 2013

To the surprise of all but those who have just arrived from Mars, the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been marred by the spotfixing scam involving players from the Rajasthan Royals. Three of them, including the former Test bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth, have been arrested, two more are to be questioned.

It was quite obvious from the very beginning that the anything-goes, anything-can-happen format of Twenty20 cricket was  tailormade for bookies and other forces beyond the boundary. The confluence of cricket, commerce and cinema was a deadly combo, especially with the underworld having a vice-like grip on the gambling scene and Bollywood.

While the players are still to be proved guilty and the Delhi Police is known for monumental cockups, the mere revelation that there could have been more than met the eye in some matches so far, is a letdown of spectators at stadiums and audiences in homes. Plus, it is a disservice to the many honest cricketers showing their skills.

Questions: will you ever trust an IPL match henceforth? Will you watch the “maximums”, the no balls, the wides, without wondering if there is something more to it?

Or will this too pass in the circus that the BCCI?

Also read: Are Indians endemically corrupt as a people?

CHURUMURI POLL: A pardon for Azharuddin?

CHURUMURI POLL: Mandira, Archana or Shibani?*

9 May 2012

Yes, it is the silly season.

First we had Mandira Bedi, the wide-eyed Punjabi girl who gingerly learnt the game with experts while she adjusted her noodle-straps. Then came along Mayanti Langer, the Kashmiri lass whose breakneck diction did not distract conspiracy theorists from wondering if she was a surreptitious product placement for Adidas’ Jabulani ball.

Now, in season five of the Indian premier league, we have been served up Archana Vijaya and Shibani Dandekar as eye-candy to beat the summer heat. Sports television’s admirable quest to make cricket coverage sexy and expand the viewership by empowering women anchors continues relentlessly.

Who gets your vote?

* Please feel free not to take part in this poll should it offend your (soccer and/or gender) sensibilities.

CHURUMURI POLL: Abdul Kalam for President?

20 April 2012

It is a reflection of the current state of Indian politics that even as boring an exercise as the presidential election has all the markings of a heart-stopping show, which, to use the sage words of Ravi Shastri in an IPL season, “can go all the way down to the wire”.

The elections are still two months away, but the battlelines are getting drawn between the UPA and NDA, with more than a few aspiring (and perspiring) partypoopers lining up alongside. Result: Hopes of a “consensus” in the “national interest” are quickly getting “elusive”.

The Congress-led UPA, whose electoral victories are few and far between, obviously wants its candidate (vice-president Hamid Ansari, according to the prevailing wisdom) to get in, especially with general elections due in 2014. Ansari is suave, erudite, secular, has friends on both sides of the political fence, and oozes plenty of presidential air.

The problem is his conduct as chairman of the Rajya Sabha in the Lok Pal debate—when he called of the session without giving time for a vote—which seems to have rubbed the BJP on the wrong side.

Worse, as a “left wing intellectual” Ansari is anathema to the current diva of Indian politics, Mamata Banerjee, who is part of the UPA. She, it appears, is talking with Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajawadi Party and exploring the possibility of propping up former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam once again. Mulayam it was who had first suggested Kalam’s name in 2002.

Kalam’s name did the rounds at the end of his first term in 2007, but when the parties couldn’t reach a consensus, he dropped out. “Kalam Iyer” has given no indication that he is interested in a fresh tenure but by floating his name at this juncture, regional parties like Trinamool are giving every indication of a faceoff between a Tamil Muslim and a UP Muslim.

Questions: Will Kalam agree to enter the presidential race again? Should he? Does he stand a chance when the numbers are loaded against the Opposition? Could he end up becoming a pawn in the hands of small parties? Or, should the UPA consider him as the “consensus” candidate this time round given his role in defusing the Koodankulam anti-nuclear protests?

What Mian Musharraf can teach our corporators

9 April 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Once upon a time, Karnataka used to be known for the arts, culture, and the no-nonsense administration. Bangalore, in particular, revelled in this image, in part because of the pioneering work under chieftain Kempe Gowda, whose 497th Birthday  is being celebrated this week.

But in circa 2012, the brihat Bangalore mahanagara palike (the greater Bangalore municipal corporation, BBMP) is making news for all the wrong reasons.

In keeping with the spirit of the times where greed and opportunism have made Karnataka more or less the No. 1 corrupt State in the country, BBMP wants free tickets to watch IPL matches at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

BBMP’s deputy mayor has rather shamelessly has demanded 450 tickets, 400 for each for the 198 corporators and his wife/girlfriend,  and a kosuru (a little extra) for some officials of the corporation.

The deputy mayor who came on national television demanded that they should be given free tickets and that they were not beggars to go and ask the Karnataka state cricket association (KSCA) for them.

But anyone who has followed cricket in Karnataka knows that this is a regular ‘custom’. It has been going on for several years now and looks suspiciously like a typical  ‘mamool’ issue.

Why don’t the corporators buy the tickets and watch the match and keep their self-respect intact rather than making fools of themselves on national TV? If there is an iota of self-esteem and honesty left in them, they wouldn’t grovel for better seats and then threaten KSCA with regard to some unpaid taxes etc if denied.

Chinnaswamy stadium belongs to the people of Karnataka and not Corporators.

At this rate, KSRTC, KEB can also demand free tickets.

BWSSB can demand FOC tickets for their entire staff / wives/ dogs and cats  or threaten to cut off water supply.

Ditto the police.

It may be interesting to recall here General Pervez  Musharraf.

For all his negative image, the former Pakistani president set a shining example which not only our corporators, government officials and even BCCI officials should follow.

When he was invited to watch an India-Pakistan one-day match, Musharraf went to the counter and bought a ticket for himself. When asked why he was buying ticket he told, ‘I am the patron of Pakistan Cricket Association. As a patron, if I don’t buy ticket who else will?’

Well said Musharraf, saab!

Whether Pakistan allows you or not, please come to Bangalore and drill this into the heads of our BBMP officials who have a made it a policy to live life free of cost.

To repeat: IPL is a circus, IPL is a circus

12 March 2012

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been called plenty of name by its baiters. Now, as if to live up to the label that it is but a circus—a carnival of cricket, cinema and commerce—the Twenty20 league has come up with a superbly produced TV commercial that underlines the point for those too challenged to discern.

CHURUMURI POLL: Death of India in Test cricket?

15 August 2011

India’s 0-3 scoreline with a match to go in the four-Test match series against England will only surprise those who have only passing acquaintance with the game, shout Chak de India or Jeetega bhai jeetega as if the other side is only playing to help “us” win, and are only bothered about how much Sachin Tendulkar scores.

The deep cracks in Indian cricket—an ageing batting lineup, an unfit fielding side, injured bowlers, poor bench strength, a preponderance of limited overs cricket, etc—had been papered over by the heady (even if unexpected) World Cup victory and the anything-goes Twenty20 format of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Truth is, India’s strength was always going to be tested in the longer, more testing format of the five-day game against quality opposition, and not surprisingly all these cracks have been exposed most mercilessly by England. That it should come after all the hoo-ha over the centenary Test match is only incidental.

However, defeat is a part of sport. What is more worrisome is what the future portends for the Indian Test team.

As it is, the only top-order batsman with runs in this series has been the 38-year-old Rahul Dravid; the bowling still depends on an always injured and hobbling Zaheer Khan, who is 32. With Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman both on the other side of 35,the simple question to ponder is, is the golden era of India in Test match cricket, which began at the turn of the new millennium, over? Will future Indian teams (at least for a while) only shine in the shorter, more paying versions of the game—and mostly at home? Or will this too pass?

External reading: The worst-ever debacle?

Why 1983 is still vivid, and 2011 is already a blur

4 July 2011

Santosh Desai in The Times of India:

“When it comes to the 1983 cricket World Cup, many Indians would believe that they have a ball-by-ball memory. It seems as if every wicket, every boundary, every gesture and every turn of phrase used by the commentators is etched in our memory. That was 28 years ago, and then when we try and cast our minds back a couple of months to the 2011 World Cup victory, curiously instead of memories what we have is some noisy static and a distant and somewhat wearied sense of pride that we need to dredge up.

“Of course, this has partly to do with the crowded cricket calendar and the fact that the seemingly interminable IPL occurred even before the champagne corks landed on the ground, but that can hardly be a full explanation…. The abundance of memory that surrounds the 1983 win points to the fact that events have a rich afterlife and that the idea of any event is constructed not only at the time it occurs, but is continuously added to and re-interpreted through the lens of moving time.

“In that sense the ‘1983 world cup victory’ did not occur only in that year for we have added layers to that edifice and have consumed it in different ways over the years. It lives on as a visual memory etched into our minds. It is enjoyed not only for the gloriousness of the final outcome, but is bathed in incandescent retrospective light,with every event leading to the eventual victory suffused with an almost sacred energy….

“The greatest pleasure of winning the World Cup in 1983 lay in chewing the memory cud for decades thereafter; now the pleasure lies on the Next Big Thing on television.”

Read the full column: Why 1983  is still vivid, 2011 is a blur

The cricket report you won’t see in your paper

3 July 2011

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: The stultifying nepotism and favouritism in Indian cricket is as old as Chamundi hills. But more indication that players heading the sport is not necessarily a panacea comes in the selection of the Indian squad for the Emerging Players tournament to be held in Australia.

The good news is that at least four Karnataka cricketers (media pacers R. Vinay Kumar and Sreenath Arvind, wicketkeeper C. Gautam, and batsman Manish Pandey) have made the cut.

The bad news is Srikkanth Anirudha.

Anirudha, the son of the former India opener and current chairman of the selection committee of the BCCI, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, has sneaked in, no prizes for guessing how, and even Yahoo’s cricket columnist Venkat Ananth (see Twitter graphic, above) is scratching his head in disbelief.

After a first-class debut in the 2003-04 season, the horizontally challenged chip of the old block, averages less than 30, is not even a member of the Tamil Nadu Ranji trophy team, and had scores of 3, 7,9, 0, 64, and 0 in season four of the Indian Premier League (IPL)—and for that he gets a free plane ride to Australia?

Followers of Karnataka cricket are, of course, familiar with the trend.

The joke is the KSCA selection committee has to only fill nine players because the other two are reserved for Udit Patel and Stuart Binny, the club-class sons of Brijesh Patel and Roger Binny, who would find it difficult to get into a good first division team.

And of course, the belief that cricket flows in the blood is a national pandemic: Sunil Gavaskar spent the better part of 2000s trying to get his son Rohan Gavaskar in; Mohammed Azharuddin found a backdoor for his son in the Kolkata Knightriders, etcetera.

But to see Srikkanth, whose conflict of interest in cricket matches if not rivals Brijesh Patel’s, upto the old tricks is not merely shocking but disgusting. Even simple followers of cricket on Cricinfo can see through the game of empire-building cricketers, but the selection committee cannot.


And a greater pity is that such favouritism will barely find space in tomorrow’s sports pages. Certainly, I am willing to wager, not in The Hindu. And no prizes for guessing why either.

Also read: Questions for M/s Anil Kumble & Javagal Srinath

Is India worst behaved team of 2011 World Cup?

BCCI, Anil Kumble and a silly PR exercise

External reading: How Udit Patel edged out Dharmichand

Ram Guha: Why B. Akhil should have been picked over Stuart Binny

BCCI, Infosys, Anil Kumble & a silly PR exercise

15 June 2011

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: You scratch my back and I will scratch yours, is India’s most famous sport, especially in the upper crust of society. And the country’s richest sporting body, BCCI, and the country’s second largest IT company, Infosys, have just shown how it is played, in full public glare.

Monday’s Times of India had a story that BCCI was in talks with Infy to prepare, hold your breath, “an exhaustive injury database” following the flurry of injuries to its top players—Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, S. Sreesanth—who have all skipped the ongoing West Indies tour because of various aches, pains and niggles.

According to the report, former India captain, KSCA president and NCA chairman, Anil Kumble, was in touch with Infosys to develop a software for injury management of players.

“But the talks are informal and at a very preliminary stage,” said BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty. “We have been using the infrastructure of Infosys like their ground at Mysore on a regular basis.”

Reading the report, the first thought that crossed my mind was: who first scratched whose back first? And who is deriving more pleasure out of the experience?

Infosys or BCCI?

Think about it.

Indian cricket for all its dhoom-dhamaka is still a stiflingly small sport. The number of international players, and the number of domestic players seeking to gradaute to the international level, is small. And to tabulate their injuries, you need Infosys, when a coach in shorts with a spreadsheet can do the job?

And what about Infosys?

The $7 billion company refrains from getting into the product-making zone, doesn’t make big mergers or acquisitions that will take it to the next level, but is happy to be doing silly odd jobs that a 20-year-old with a 486 could be doing after class-hours?

Today’s Hindustan Times hits the nail on the head by calling the BCCI-Infosys what it is: a silly PR exercise. Reason: sports clubs around the world have long used software to spot talent, plot diet plans, record medical data, and track players from the junior to professional levels.

HT says Brentford FC, a lower-division English football club, asked a software developer called PlayersElite to come up with the required software to manage its players.

“It cost £5,000 (approximately Rs 3.5 lakh) to develop the software, and requires a further £400 (Rs 30,000) per month to maintain it,” says its head of youth recruitment, Shaun O’Connor.

But to see BCCI, Infosys and Anil Kumble in this tech tango—as if they are sending a man to the man—offers a sobering insight into both Indian sport and Indian business. Why haven’t we heard of Cisco or Microsoft or Sun Microsystems doing likewise with NBA or World Series or whatever?

Because it is not rocket science, Sherlock.

All BCCI needs to understand why its players are falling like flies is to look at its own timetable and an exhausting  circus called the Indian Premier League (IPL). But why would BCCI or Anil Kumble cut off their own legs, when one runs the IPL and the other advises the Royal Challengers (RCB)?

OK, this is nitpicking.

Maybe Kumble as the new KSCA president wants to build sport-industry relationships, with the “future” in mind. Well then, BCCI doesn’t even have a website of its own. Maybe, they should also ask N.R. Narayana Murthy & Co to help them design a website while they are working on “an exhaustive injury database”.

It will be total paisa vasool.


Photograph: Anil Kumble with wife Chethana arrives for the wedding reception of Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy‘s son Rohan Murthy, who married Lakshmi Venu of the TVS family at the Leela Palace in Bangalore on Sunday, June 12 (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Why don’t we hear of IT excelling in sport?

Biggest. Largest. Highest. Mostest. Anywhere.

BCCI & Infosys: Made for each other in Mysore

Questions for Anil Kumble & Javagal Srinath

Does IPL need Bollywood or the vice-versa?

17 January 2011

After submitting himself to the manufactured thrills of Twenty20 cricket in South Africa, Mukul Kesavan writes in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The IPL’s apologists tell us that the Bombay film industry’s participation in the IPL sprinkles stardust on the cricket and makes it more glamorous, more popular. They argue that only po-faced purists can object to cricket using star power to extend its reach. Rhetorically, this is a good argument because it’s obvious that Shahrukh Khan’s and Shilpa Shetty’s association with the IPL brings the tournament more column inches in newspapers, more television time.

“But the Durban match demonstrated that the reverse is actually true. Cricket isn’t using Hindi cinema to extend its brand; Hindi cinema is using cricket to consolidate its grip on popular culture…. The cricketers in general, were, depending on the favoured metaphor, either props for the main show or appetizers for the main course. The match itself was in the nature of an opening act, a preliminary to the real business of the evening.”

Read the full article: Cheerleaders in Durban

CHURUMURI POLL: Mallya’s RCB, desi or IMFL?

9 January 2011

When it took off, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was supposed to be, among other things, about building strong city-based local identities. In other words, what the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers do to residents of those cities, the Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians were supposed to do to Delhi-ites and Bombay-ites.

But has the Royal Challengers Bangalore kissed that “strong city-based local identity” goodbye? There is no Anil Kumble in the squad for IPL-4. Rahul Dravid has been “bought out” by Rajasthan Royals. Robin Utthappa, who had been procured from Bombay, has gone off to Poona.

“Market forces” may be behind the departure of the foreign attractions in the Bangalore team—Jacques Kallis, Kevin Pietersen, Dale Steyn and Ross Taylor—and their Indian counterparts like Praveen Kumar, but the flight of  topnotch “local talent” puts a big question mark on the Bangalore team’s local connect.

Maybe, this is just as it should be in a purely commercial auction; there is no place for emotion and sentiment. Maybe, in the new cosmopolitan Bangalore, it takes players from all over to represent Bangalore.

Still, does a “Bangalore team” which comprises Zaheer Khan, Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Poojara et al evoke the same “connect” with fans and followers, presuming of course there was such a connect in the first three seasons?

On the other hand, how have teams like Bombay and Madras retained a strong local component while Bangalore has squandered it lock, stock and barrel? Or does it not matter as long as Royal Challengers Bangalore serves as a vehicle to peddle “Dr” Vijay Mallya‘s booze, whether it is local or Indian Made Foreign Liquor?

Also read: What Mallya‘s team says about Mallya‘s mind

Since Kingfisher Airlines is only meant to promote water

One question I’m dying to ask “Dr” Vijay Mallya

Scams, scams, scams: Has liberalisation worked?

18 November 2010

It’s raining scams here, there, everywhere.

A. Raja and 2G, Suresh Kalmadi and CWG, Ashok Chavan and B.S. Yediyurappa and land allotment, Lalit Modi and IPL, Vikram Akula and microfinance, Madhu Koda and the Reddy brothers, and so on and so forth.

But this is only the favour of the current season. Last year, it was Pinrayi Vijayan and Lavlin, Ramalinga Raju and Satyam, and so on and so forth.

For nearly 20 years now, corruption has skyrocketed to stratospheric levels, cutting across States, party lines, ideologies, affecting not just the three estates of the legislature, executive and the judiciary, but also business, industry, stock exchanges, cinema, sport, media, academics, and almost everything else in Indian society.

Was it supposed to be this way?

Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr in DNA:

“The great hope of economic liberalisation was that government will be less intrusive and dominant and that this would end not just the vice-like grip of politicians and bureaucrats over the lives of people but also mean less corruption.

“But this is one great hope that has been betrayed. It looks like that politicians and bureaucrats are still enjoying their power to dole out favours, whether it is mining or telecom licences, and that business folk find it useful and even profitable to cultivate the politicians and their minions in the government.

“Right from the Enron episode in the 1990s to the 2G spectrum allotment just goes to show that business is deeply involved in the corrupt system.”

Read the full column: The role of business in governmental corruption

CHURUMURI POLL: Indians in spot-fixing too?

30 August 2010

The spot-fixing scandal to hit Pakistan cricket only confirms a growing sense of unease about the game. The scams surrounding IPL, the haze of drugs hovering over some players, the scandalous lifestyles of some others, the disappearance of top-flight talent from most teams, the politicking, etc, all suggest that the sport is being sullied and milked dry by players and administrators with dollar $ign$ in their eye$.

Obviously, this is a state of affairs that a sport greatly loved in this country but played only by a few others can afford. If an individual was going through so much strife, a shrink would recommend a break, a rest, a holiday, so that the patient can step back, catch a breath, and allow the mind to catch up with the body. Equally obviously, it is unlikely cricket’s money-mad administrators will even contemplate such a possibility.

Pakistan cricket is clearly in ICCU. But that’s not saying much. Is Indian cricket in any better shape? If India is the hub of bookies who are behind match-fixing, as alleged by former captain Rameez Raja, is it possible that Indian players too could be involved in the Pakistani game? Or, are our players clean and beyond reproach (and approach) after the last match-fixing scandal?

Who’s running the Feudal Republic of India? ANC.

30 May 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I met the Ace Political Expert (APE) at Cheluvamba Park doing his yogic walk. After a couple of rounds, he sat on the stone beach.

He beckoned me to sit and I asked him the question that was bothering me since the prime minister’s national press conference last week: “Who exactly is running our country?”

After taking a long breath, APE said: “There is a coalition government but there is collision at each and every step.”

It was a bad pun, but I let it be.

“Could you be more specific? Is Manmohan Singh running the country?”

“It is illusory to feel Manmohan Singh is running the country. He is running away from running the country, by visiting various countries. In effect, he is on the run most of the times.”

“He is not going anywhere. He himself said so during his press conference,” I interrupted.

“He meant Rahul Gandhi may have to wait a little longer to take his place as per the norms of the feudal democractic republic of India.”

“If Manmohan is not running the country, what about Sonia?”

“Well, Sonia is running the country and she is not! Let me explain. She wants the home minister to have a dialogue with Maoists. But Chidambaram is confused whether he should start a dialogue or act like Vedanta’s lawyer and box the Maoists for the bauxite. So he is doing nothing. Worse, he is doing a daily Q&A session with Barkha Dutt on 26 /11 forgetting there is an external affairs minister to do that job in S.M. Krishna.”

“This is all so confusing.”

“S.M. Krishna was busy monitoring and mentoring Shashi Tharoor who is anyway beyond mentoring and monitoring. That’s how he landed in a sweaty soup during IPL.”

APE continued: “Sonia wants the prices of tur dal and loki to be controlled but Sharad Pawar has apparently better things to do. He is busy getting new suits stitched for the post of ICC chief. So Sonia is not running the country either.”

“Sometimes it looks it is the opposition that is running the country.”

“That’s how it seemed to me too looking at the way Arun Jaitley supported the government to take tough action against Naxals and Maoists. I thought he was guiding Chidambaram. But Digvijay Singh’s bashing up of Chidambaram indicates neither UPA nor Congress is running the country. The much tom-tomed opposition unity on cut-motion fell flat on its face. So the opposition are not running the country either.”

I was getting desperate.

“The electronic media is all the time hysterical with their ‘Breaking News’ song-and-dance act. Are they running the country?”

“Sometimes I feel the troika of Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami are running the country. But their agenda is mostly restricted to the Ruchika case, Aarushi murder case, etc, followed by a lengthy acrimonious debate. If they don’t have any agenda, they bring in Lalit Modi’s IPL3 which always has something to offer—-cricket, Bollywood starlets, midnight parties, millions of dollars, match fixing , N. Srinivasan’s homa before the finals etc.”

“Could the armed forces be running the country,” I wonder.

“It looked like that when we won the Kargil war. But the fudging of records of Kargil war, painting heroes as villains and villains as heroes, and the periodic selling of our defense secrets like in the Navy warm room look belies such thoughts.”

“What about the ministers,” I asked.

“Mostly they are busy with their scams or tantrums. DMK’s A. Raja, the telecom minister is known more for his 2G scam. Instead of being a rail mantri, Mamata Banerjee is in Kolkata trying to overthrow the Leftists there, be it in the state, municipal, or panchayet  elections, or even a local football match. I don’t think ministers are running the country either.”

I was getting exasperated.

“If Dr Singh is running away from the country’s problems, Sonia has no idea, ministers are not running the country, who is in charge or are we on auto-pilot?”

“ANC,” said APE.

“You mean African National Congress?”

“No. The ANC here  is Anarchy, Nepotism and Corruption!” said the APE.

“Are they running the country?” I asked.

“They are ruining the country!” concluded the APE.

How our TV networks are killing the golden goose

17 May 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: One of the popular scraps doing the rounds on Facebook is:

“Thank God, India failed to scrape through to the semifinals of the Twenty20 World Cup! Otherwise Vishwanathan Anand’s 4th World Cup title victory in chess would have been confined to a one-liner between ‘other news’ and the ‘weather report’, courtesy our national networks!”

Even now, India reaching the finals of the Azlan Shah hockey championship in Malaysia has been consigned to a similar fate as TV time is  hogged by reformed match-fixers and one-Test wonders who are pontificating on how Mahendra Singh Dhoni must put Indian cricket ahead of club cricket.

So far, no expert on chess has come on TV to explain how Anand won the crucial final game, what moves he made, etc. But every move and tweet of Lalit Modi is being scrutinized and Virender Sehwag’s mother’s reaction is being studied in anticipation of Sehwag supposedly becoming India’s captain, courtesy our froth-in-the-mouth networks.

With the BCCI reportedly seeking an explanation on a brawl involving the players in a St Lucia pub after India lost the match against Sri Lanka, we can be sure reporters will soon be interviewing Rohit Sharma’s naani in Bombay to find out if Rohit was always a problem child even in his kg classes!

Not to be outdone, a rival channel will dispatch half its staff to get ‘whatever it takes’ about Yuvraj Singh’s diet due to which he has put on some weight. I won’t be surprised if the network also interviews ‘aloo chacha’ from Yuvraj’s favourite chaat shop, with a few words from Gulfi of  ‘Gulfi’s kulfi’ about Yuvraj’s kulfi eating habits.

What have the so-called national networks reduced themselves to?

Do they know:

# At Wimbledon, only a few from England have won the men’s or women’s, singles or doubles, championships for the last 50 years?

# At the French Open in Paris, only a couple of Frenchmen and women have managed to bag the title in more than 50 years?

# That, despite hosting the first three World Cups, England had never ever won a major tournament, and its Twenty20 win on Sunday was a first?

Winning and losing is a part and parcel of a game.

Whining and crying is not when the team loses.

And non-stop yapping and going over the top is not when the team wins!

Had the Indian team won this edition of the Twenty20 World Cup, even God would not have managed to help viewers and cricketers. Money would have flown like IPL funds, and crores would have been spent on cash prizes, awards and rewards such as cars, prime lands and what-have-you.

Dozens of reporters would have been vying with each other to interview Dhoni’s hair-dresser, Raina’s milkman and Gautam Gambhir’s second chacha! There would have been a nonstop yapping on the TV by former test discards on how “Captain Cool/ Courageous” conjured up this victory.

This is being intolerable in victory.

We don’t find BBC reporters running to the bar frequented by Andrew Flintoff or Kevin Pietersen to know whether their drinking habits were in any way responsible for England not winning anything worthwhile till Sunday.

If Pietersen were to be playing for India, by now the major networks would have camped at the hospital, interviewed, the doctors and nurses who delivered his baby and shown the  baby’s cries live, all because Pieterson helped England to reach the semifinals and the win the finals!

India did not win the super8 matches because they didn’t play short-pitched balls that came up to the chest. Period.

It’s a simple as that. This is not something new; this weakness has existed in Indian cricket over the last 50 years.

Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid are the only two who have mastered the short pitched balls, especially while playing overseas, and their records speak for themselves.

The BCCI should use the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and train our batsmen how to play short-pitched balls. Unless this is taken care of, Indian cricketers will flounder against bouncers on a lively pitch in any from of cricket. Again and again.

Most of the reporters can’t differentiate between a ‘leg glance’ and a ‘short leg’ but can yap hours at a stretch at ‘extraa yap’ sessions, before and after the match, prying in to lifestyles of cricketers, etc, and splash any teenie-weenie bit of trivia as ‘Breaking News’.

Cricket, hockey or for that matter chess are all games, among others, which deserve ‘equal opportunity’ from the media. By being partial to cricket and sensationalising when India wins or loses, the media is doing singular disservice both to the cricketers as well as to other sportspersons who don’t get any recognition or coverage at all.

The networks should ponder over this and give a more balanced coverage to all sports.

8 steps for Britain to get a strong, ‘secular’ govt

11 May 2010

Ever ready to spread the spirit of Indian democracy to newer shores, E.R. RAMACHANDRAN shoots off a personal letter to the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Britain.



Mr Nicholas Clegg
Leader of Liberal Democrats

Dear Mr Clegg

Britain’s election results have confounded most political pundits as they are beset with a hung parliament.

Gordon Brown’s dowdy, uncharismatic leadership resulted in Labour Party losing 91 seats and ending with 258 seats, worth only a tuppence when it comes to forming a Government.

The Conservative Party under their young leader, David Cameron, got 305 Seats, 21 seats fewer than 326, the minimum required to form a government.

The Liberal Democrats, under your leadership, have lost 5 seats and ended with 57 seats. But you hold the ‘key’ to forming the next government.

Many congratulations!

This is a classic ‘Indian’ political situation wherein destiny has showered upon you the role of a ‘Kingmaker’.

Perhaps due to eating ‘curry’ at frequent intervals at Veeraswamy’s and other Indian joints and watching IPL, it is small wonder the overworked British gastronomy has followed India’s footsteps in politics.

This is a golden opportunity for Liberal Democrats to ‘make hay while the sun shines’  while insisting they will not allow ‘communal forces’ to come to power and do everything they can to bring ‘secular’ forces like the Conservative party to power.

Of course, there is a price to be paid; that is the dictum of politics.

You have to extract it, as Shylock tried to get ‘his pound of flesh’.

If you want to make Cameron the next Prime Minsiter, you need to keep your flock of MPs under your thumb so that you can negotiate hard for cabinet berths etc.

History will record the noble role you played to get a new Prime Minister to England.

I hope you will adopt the Indian strategy to achieve your goal. Our strategy is time-tested and State governments in India like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh etc are credited with these innovations.

Here’s what you need to do, Mr Clegg:

1. You should start with ‘Resort’ politics. That is, load all the 52 Liberal Democrats into a Volvo Bus and drive in to a resort. Serve them gin and tonic or vodka or whatever they want en route. Make sure you have enough crispies and peanuts to go with the drinks.

2. Confiscate the mobile phones, iPhones and iPads so that they can neither talk to their same sex lovers, husbands, wives etc. This will also prevent them from contacting Gordon Brown to hatch a secret deal.

3. Take the bus towards Dorset, East Devon Coast as per plan. After a while take the bus in the opposite direction to Durham Castle and cathedral, 180 degrees off the original plan. This is a classical Karnataka Plan.

4. Mr Clegg, remember you are having an internal meeting to decide what to ask Cameron if he wants to be the next Prime Minister. At Durham, you might come across a senior doddering Lib Dem member who himself many not be interested in a cabinet berth. But he would insist the post of Chancellor of Exchequer to his  first wife’s second son and post of ‘Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Council, and Minister for women and Equality’ to the second daughter of his second wife.  He may want his third son (‘wifey’ unknown) be made ambassador to Scotland so that he could look after the distilleries there. This is Tamil Nadu Lemma on Self- Help Management.. You’d better accommodate the old bounder.

5. As per your direction, Cameron may land with huge bags carrying sterling pounds. Don’t be clumsy and handle cash and get caught with pants and nighties down as it happened to some of our leaders in BJP and Samata Party! Ask them to drop them in churches close to the Liberal Democrats. They will have the bags collected through their secretaries.

6. Find out what price Cameron is willing to pay if you could promise a ‘Cameron dynasty’ wherein his wife, his sons and daughter will succeed him ‘generation after generation’? Like George dynasty or Henry dynasty?

7. Your job is done only when Cameron is sworn as the Prime Minister.  Before that you may have to parade your MPs in pyjamas in front of the Queen and Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in the middle of night. You have to ensure they are all sober and check with guards regarding Royals’ Sobriety before you take them for a head-count.

8. Finally just to make sure you get the job done, please check with the Royalty ‘How they should be taken care of’. Even if the queen is OK, sometimes, Prince Philip is queer and he may want some jolly good things to be taken care of. Just make sure he is pampered even if he is in his knickerbockers and his requests borders on queerness’.

Mr Clegg, you have the rarest of rare opportunities to create a ‘Cameron Dynasty’ in England much like the Georges and Henrys!

Let not history say you didnt’ try.

Good luck, Mr. Clegg.

I remain, yours sincerely

E.R. Ramachandran

Also read: When politics is The Last Resort of the bankrupt

Very soon, they will move into The Last Resort

Wicket, wicket, wicket, wicket, dot ball, wicket

3 May 2010

The Twenty20 World Cup is being played so far away, it seems like it’s happening on another planet. And it is happening so soon after the previous World Cup (in the same week IPL-3 ended) that it probably doesn’t matter.

Still, Australia versus Pakistan on 2 May 2010 will enter the record books. Australia 191 for 5 at the beginning of the 20th over. Australia 191 all out at the end of the 20th over.

Muhammed Aamer‘s final over: WWWWOW

Are Gavaskar & Shastri India’s only cricketers?

27 April 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: As I went around the now-abandoned Chinnaswamy stadium, no thanks to the Bangalore police, I spotted the Ace Sports Specialist (ASS) sitting in the clubhouse restaurant.

I joined him for coffee and thought I could get my doubts cleared on some cricketing aspects.

“How come only a few names come out of the BCCI’s hat whenever the membership or chairmanship of any committee comes up? One or two occupying multiple positions of power in not uncommon. Is it a case of ‘Favored Few’? Or do others not qualify or they are not interested?” I started off.

“You are talking in riddles. Why don’t you be specific?” asked ASS.

Sunil Gavaskar is one of the most articulate and knowledgeable cricketers apart from being one of the all-time greats of the game. Naturally his services are sought by the ICC, the BCCI as well as sports channels like ESPN, Star Cricket, etc.”

“It is but natural,” ASS agreed.

“Sometime back when he was the chairman of the ICC technical committee, he had criticized ICC during a Test match as Star Sports commentator. There was a clear conflict of interest. ICC bluntly gave him an alternative, ‘either be with ICC or quit commentating’.”

“That’s right. He resigned from the ICC and kept the more lucrative commentator’s job.”

“Doesn’t ICC’s rule apply for BCCI too?  He is the chairman of BCCI technical committee and he continues to be the commentator for the cricket channels as well as an expert for the news channels? Isn’t there a conflict of interest? Even the captain or a member of the team is barred from writing when a match is on.”

“You’re right. I never thought of this before. BCCI always operates in an ad hoc manner most times,” blurted ASS.

Ravi Shastri was a ‘Champion of Champions’ once and hit 6 sixes off Tilak Raj in a Ranji trophy match.”

“Not bad kannaiah, Ramu! You have kept track of all the great records.”

I ignored ASS’S backhanded compliment.

“Aren’t Shastri and Gavaskar members of the IPL governing council too?” I asked.

“Yes, they are, along with Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.”

“Don’t we have other cricketers of calibre who could have been given this job, like Mohinder Amarnath, Kapil Dev, Bishen Singh Bedi, Syed Kirmani, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Dilip Doshi et al since Gavaskar is already chairman of technical committee and Shastri is chairman of the NCA in Bangalore? Why doesn’t BCCI even consider other senior cricketers as they too have served the country with distinction?”

“There is something like being in ‘good books’ of BCCI; the names that you mention probably come under ‘bad books’,” ASS explained.

“I see. What about Arun Lal, Brijesh Patel, Shivlal Yadav,  Narendra Hirwani, Raju Mukherji?” I persisted.

“Look. BCCI must have forgotten most of these names. Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar may not even know who Hirwani is.”

“Again, how come only Ravi Shastri and Gavaskar were along with S. Venkataraghavan in a committee to select the coach for the Indian team? Shouldn’t senior cricketers like Chandu Borde, Ajit Wadekar and Gundappa Vishwanath be on such committees? Their credentials as players are any day better than that of Shastri.”

“The cricketers you mentioned may perhaps be too old to understand modern cricket, especially one-day cricket and Twenty 20 cricket.”

ASS had brought the newer forms of cricket into play.

“Look,” I said, “both Gavaskar and Shastri didn’t exactly set the Meethi river on fire in the shorter versions. Remember, Gavaskar scored 36 not out in 60 overs in the first World Cup! What about Syed Kirmani, Yashpal Sharma or Kirti Azad, the heroes of the 1983 World Cup final or Sadanand Vishwanth or W.V. Raman?”

“The names you mention are not from the western region.”

“I can’t understand. First you have to be in the ‘good books’ of the Board and then you have to be also from the western region to be eligible for plum positions! BCCI should encourage past cricketers from all regions and give them the chance to shoulder various responsibilities instead of choosing only its blue-eyed boys in all committees and academies etc. Are we talking of the board of control for cricket in India, the BCCI, after all?”

“Yes, but BCCI, which runs cricket in the country, is mostly BCCIWI,” said the ASS.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Board of control for cricket in India from western India!’ The other regions simply do not matter to them in the least,” replied the ASS is we left the Chinnaswamy stadium.

CHURUMURI POLL: BCCI—clean-up or cover-up?

26 April 2010

A fortnight of feverish “innuendos, half-truths and motivated leaks“—of corruption, collusion, conflict of interest, tax evasion, shady franchise ownership, fixed auctions, patronage, nepotism, sex, sleaze, drugs etc—has ended with the summary suspension of Lalit Modi as the commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) without giving him a chance to answer the charges.

The board of control for cricket in India (BCCI) waited for the last ball to be bowled in the third edition of the IPL before making its move, and did so just before the governing council of the IPL, a league which Modi created for the BCCI to applause all round, was to meet in Bombay.

Modi is the second victim of the storm he whipped up through a tweet, after minister Shashi Tharoor, who paid the price for mentoring the Cochin franchise a little too personally.

The BCCI has appointed a new commissioner, the very men who were singing in Modi’s praise are now slamming him, and there is now talk that Modi will be charged on “five counts“, including his “behavioural pattern“. The cycle of events reeks of deja vu, a similar drama having been played out to get rid of Jagmohan Dalmiya not too long ago.

Questions: Is the BCCI sincere in its clean-up, or this is just a cover-up to evade government action? Is Modi alone to blame for all the ills he has been accused of, or is he a fall guy, a scapegoat meant to sate the bloodthirst of the lynch mob? Are Tharoor and Modi alone guilty of misdeamanour, or are there more?

IPL’s thugs are no better than Maoists and Naxals

25 April 2010

SHAH ALAM KHAN writes from New Delhi: 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 85-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 naïve. 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 labelled 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 40 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. The total value of IPL, which even Modi cannot predict with surety, is expected to be around Rs 70,000 crore.

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 honourable 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.

Kolkata 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-and-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 $15,000.

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 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 Lalit Modi and his band of filchers cannot feel for the poor they should at least respect poverty.

(Dr Shah Alam Khan is an orthopaedic surgeon at the nation’s premier medical college and hospital, the all Indian institute of medical sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Visit his blog: India and Bharat)

Photograph: The ICC’s next chief, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, with his protege, BCCI president Shashank Manohar. The duo met home minister P. Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday in Delhi after which Pawar pulled the plug on IPL commissioner Lalit Modi (courtesy The Hindu)

Also read‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

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