Posts Tagged ‘Vijay Mallya’

CHURUMURI POLL: Has India lost moral compass?

23 October 2012

In its 62nd year as a Republic, India presents a picture that can only mildy be termed unedifying.

Scams are raining down on a parched landscape with frightening ferocity. From outer space (2G, S-band) to the inner depths of mother earth (coal), the Congress-led UPA has had it all covered in its second stint. Meanwhile, Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of the first family of the Congress, has taken charge of scandals at or near sea level.

Salman Khurshid, the smooth-talking Oxford-educated law minister, thinks it is beneath his dignity to respond in a dignified manner to charges of pilfering Rs 71 lakh from the disabled. The Harvard-educated finance minister P. Chidambaram and his family is happily busy gobbling up parts of the east coast from farmers. Etcetera.

But what of the opposition?

The BJP’s president Nitin Gadkari is neckdeep in a gapla of his own,  one that threatens, in fact one that is designed to deprive him of a second stint in office. “Scam”, of course, was the middle-name of party’s Karnataka mascot, B.S. Yediyurappa. From Mulayam‘s SP to Mayawati‘s BSP to Sharad Pawar‘s NCP, from Karunanidhi‘s DMK to Jayalalitha‘s AIADMK, money-making is the be-all and end-all.

The less said of the corporates who have pillaged the country since time immemorial the better but Vijay Mallya presents its most compelling side as he shuts down his airline while his son hunts for calendar girls. The do-gooders of Team Anna and now Team Kejriwal are themselves subject to searching questions on their integrity levels. And the media is busy getting exposed as extortionists and blackmailers.

Questions: Have we as a country completely lost our moral and ethical compass? Are we going through an “unprecedented” phenomenon or is this what the US and other developed democracies like Japan have gone through in their path to progress? Or does it not matter in the greater scheme of things? Is all this leaving the citizenry cynical and frustrated or do we not care because all of us are in it, in our own little ways?

Bird brain? Finally a Kingfisher in good company

24 May 2012

It speaks for the power of branding that Kingfisher is identified more for barley water and the mineral water after which a barely-afloat airline is named. But there is such a thing as the bird, too, and we don’t mean the tweeting kind that the Kingfisher owner’s son was infamous for till the out-of-court settlement was reached in the IPL molestation case.

On Thursday, near the central library in Cubbon Park, the bird of good times shows a penchant for good company by taking refuge on the statue of the visionary administrator, Diwan K. Seshadri Iyer.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why the queen sold her diamonds, jewels

Such a lot of water but not a lot of power (sigh)

POLL: Should Kingfisher Airlines be shut?

20 February 2012

To no one’s surprise, Kingfisher Airlines has floated into yet another stormy spell of turbulence.

For the second time in four months, flights are being cancelled without “guests” being told in advance; employees haven’t been paid for months; the airline owes money to the oil companies and airports; the airline’s bank accounts have been frozen; there is no food on flights due to “technical reasons”; Yana Gupta isn’t exhorting us to tighten our seat belts because the in-flight entertainment systems are off, and…

And the king of good times, the pasha of profligacy—the honorary doctorate in “business administration” from South California University—is once again trying to hoodwink his friends in the government. No, not to “bail out” the airline, because as someone who believes in the free market, he is ostensibly against it. No, he just wants the government to tweak its civil aviation policy, which is short hand to bail out all the airlines which are similarly floundering.

Last time round, when “Dr” Vijay Mallya‘s airline was gasping for breath, the government had forced private sector banks to pick up a stake in Kingfisher at a premium—yes, at a premium—in the name of corporate debt restructuring (CDR), convincing sceptics that modern-day capitalism seems to have become about socialising losses and privatising profits, conflict of interest be damned.

Even so, the plight of the excellent but poorly managed airline struggling to stay afloat, even as rumours swirl around of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) being interested in it, prompt a simple question: should Vijay Mallya—he of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Formula One, the yachts, the calendars,  and of course the booze—be rescued? Or should Kingfisher be allowed to breathe its last, even if it has a domino effect on other airlines, thus endangering civil aviation in the country?

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Vijay Mallya

How namma Vijay floored Captain G.R. Gopinath

When the boys are imported, why not girls too?

6 April 2011

When the “good doctor from the University of Southern California University” outsourced a cheer leading squad from the Washington Redskins for the first edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the hope was the usual entrepreneurial one. That in the months and years ahead, the pom-pom weilders would be indigenised.

But IPL-4 is around the corner, and it turns out, the desi dhamaakas are still not upto it. Result: supporters of Royal Challengers Bangalore, will have to make do with mischief makers from South Africa, who showed their wares to the pop of the flashbulbs, at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Vijay Mallya‘s RCB: Desi or IMFL?

The girls promise mischief. Are the boys upto it?

Bangalore boys get a thumbs up from global girls

CHURUMURI POLL: Are T20 cheer girls obscene?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should cheer girls be banned?

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

‘Your attention please: Flight IT 2404 is at MYQ’

1 October 2010

When Rajiv Gandhi‘s “feeder airline” Vayudoot took flight in the mid-1980s, the onus of inaugurating its services to (and from) Mysore fell on the fragile shoulders of its most famous name, R.K. Narayan.

The inaugural flight took off till it was noticed that the chief guest had been left behind. The plane came back to the old Mandakalli air strip to pick Narayan up.

Interesting story, of course, if true.

There were no such “mishaps”—real or made up—when a Kingfisher Airlines ATR -72 landed at the new, revamped airport (MYQ, in the air traffic controller’s lexicon) against the backdrop of Chamundi Hills to mark the commencement of commercial air operations to and from Mysore on Friday.

The plane was given a ceremonial aviation welcome—a “water salute” by fire tenders—before the decidedly less-literary VIPs of 2010—chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah, tourism minister Janardhana Reddy et al—alighted.


Kingfisher Airlines’ flight IT 2404 will depart every day from Bangalore at noon and arrive at Mysore at 12.45 pm. From Mysore, flight IT 2407 will depart at 2.20 pm and arrive at 3.10 pm in Bangalore.

The new direct flight will offer travellers from Mysore a one-stop connection to and from Goa, Hyderabad, Mangalore, Poona, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Cochin and Bombay via Bangalore.

The honorary doctorate from South California University, “Dr” Vijay Mallya, said:

“I am delighted that we have commenced flights between Mysore and Bengaluru. The launch of this new route is an important milestone for Kingfisher Airlines and a very special moment for me personally given the place of pride that Mysore has in our glorious State. Our convenient flights will make it easier for people to travel to and from Mysore and connect with the vast network of Kingfisher Airlines via Bengaluru. Linking Mysore via air with Bengaluru and other key cities in India will provide an impetus to tourism, trade and commerce and make Mysore an even more attractive destination for the IT industry, tourists and others.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Is the Mysore airport jinxed before take off?

After all, an airport doesn’t open/close every day

Sons of the son of the soil meet the son of the oil

7 June 2010

For all the sanctimonious claptrap, there is little doubt that the house of elders has morphed into a money-making machine for political parties as all manner of industrialists, corporate chiefs and moneybags book their seat in the most exclusive club in India to promote their business and other vested interests.

On Monday, it was the turn of United Breweries (UB) group chairman, Vijay Mallya, the “doctorate of philosophy in business administration from the University of Southern California“, to pay the reservation fee plus some change for the upcoming Rajya Sabha poll as an “independent candidate” .

Helpfully filling up the frame on the right, JDS state president H.D. Kumaraswamy and his elder brother, former minister H.D. Revanna, to show that the party of humble farmers does not ignore those who make secular use of water from barley.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask H.D. Deve Gowda

One question I’m dying to ask H.D. Kumaraswamy

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

Will the suitcase MLA be made minister?

Should our MPs be batting for dropped batsmen?

The emperor’s new clothes has a loose button

3 June 2010

As part of his arangetram for the global investors’ meet in Bangalore, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has abandoned his safari suit and acquired a whole new wardrobe.

He has appeared in suit and tie for television spots, and for the inauguration of the revamped Vittal Mallya road in Bangalore on Thursday, he slipped into a bandhgala, which unfortunately slightly slipped in front of pesky mediapersons whose mandate it is to capture every human foible for posterity.

Like it or lump it.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

How a chief minister should drink tea. (Or not.)

Let the rebels know, the CM will not bow one inch

Even four pairs of hands can’t stave off the flak

Yediyurappa regime slips into yet another sandal

Behind every successful cyclist, there are a few men

Life’s a cycle. What goes up must come down.

A leg up for the one is a leg up for the other

How namma Vijay floored namma Gopinath

12 January 2010

Captain G.R. Gopinath, the founder of India’s first lowcost airline has penned his story.

Titled ‘Simplify Fly (HarperCollins), the autobiography includes this passage (excerpted in the latest issue of Business Today magazine) on how Air Deccan eventually landed in Vijay Mallya‘s stable.

“Vijay Mallya called me a little after 10. He spoke endearingly and in a spirit of camaraderie. He said, ‘I know you have shaken hands with Reliance. It doesn’t matter what they have offered you. I am willing to better every term in the deal. You quote the price. I will not negotiate. Let us do the deal.”

“Mallya was calling from Monte Carlo where his $100 million personal yacht, the Indian Empress, was berthed. He was hosting his famed annual party on the eve of the Formula One race. He said: ‘I am at the dinner with a host of VIPs. The Prince of Monaco is here, the stars of Formula One are here. I am calling you in the midst of all this because it is very important to me. Please make a note of all the major terms of the deal. I will call later.’

“The phone rang at about 4 am.

“I said, ‘Vijay, I want you to know this is serious. I’ve already shaken hands with Anil Ambani, but they need 5-6 days more….”

“Mallya spoke to me in Kannada. He was disarming in his tone. He sounded urgent and winsome. He said it was his philosophy to address all the segments of the market: low, middle and high. He had done this with whisky and with beer. He said he was aware of my commitment to a lowcost airline and he respected that. Together, we would be good for the industry. However, with Reliance’s entry into the fray, the bloodbath would continue. Our coming together would altogether transform the scene.

“Mallya asked me if I had the list ready. I read out my list, which included conditions that would deter Mallya. I said: ‘If you are serious about investing in Deccan, you will have to make a deposit of Rs 200 crore immediately’.”

Also read: Munde Magane

World’s largest landbank holder is namma Creema

When Azim Premji‘s father said no and no again

How V.G. Siddhartha built the Coffee Day dream cup by cup

6 proposals from (and 3 questions for) Lalit Modi

26 November 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has signed a contract with Nimbus Corporation for a jaw-dropping $612 million. The BCCI’s present sponsorship and sale earnings are around Rs 3,354 crore, the breakup being: team sponsor Rs 415 crore, kit sponsor Rs 215 crore and media rights Rs 2,724 crore.

With all this money, what is BCCI’s plan for cricket in the country?

Or for that matter, the Indian Premier League’s?

IPL czar Lalit Modi recently announced his plans at a media conference.

Since time is money, and although the Indian and foreign media were invited, only three questions were allowed due to paucity of time. The function was held in the Taj Mahal hotel’s crystal ball room. The television rights of the 2-hour programme itself were auctioned for $ 50 million.

The members of each team flew into Bombay in their own brand-new “Air IPL” plane and helihopped to the Gateway of India.

After the now-mandatory gymnastics show by Chinese girls, songs by rapper Eminem, belly show by Shakira, Modi took the stage. He was accompanied to the stage by cheer girls of Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers.

After receiving a standing ovation from the glitterati, the IPL commissioner read out his vision of IPL over the next 5 years:

1. In IPL-3, three paying spectators will be ushered into their seats by their respective club’s cheer girls. A token charge of $25 or equivalent in rupees will be levied. This would generate the IPL revenue of additional $200 million.

2. There will be two breaks of 10 minutes after every 7 ½ overs. This will enable the cheer leaders to change their dress. It will also take care of complaint from spectators that they are tired of seeing the girls in the same dress for the entire duration of the match. The dressmakers will add $ 100 million to the IPL kitty every 7 ½ months.

3. IPL-4 will be held in grounds of all countries that play cricket. The host cricket boards will pay IPL a royalty of 10 million for each match. At least $200 million is expected as some matches will be played twice in a ground in one season.

4. An international cheer girls training school will be started in London before IPL5 Season. Umpire Billy Bowden will be the director. Since this is an honorary post, IPL will incur no expenses in the appointment.

5. The US cricket association wants to have IPL-7 matches in their cities. IPL will directly negotiate the media rights with CNN, ABC and NBC networks and we hope to get revenue of $ 1 billion at least. If President Barack Obama agrees to toss the coin for the inaugural match and the finals, the revenues will be doubled.

6. By the time we reach IPL-10, using stem cell research and human cloning, IPL intends to have look-alike robots for leading players like Sachin Tendulkar and Andrew Flintoff so that they don’t have to field. This also opens the door for superlative Twenty20 players of the past like Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar to stage a comeback.

With his proposals now laid out, Modi threw open the floor to the media and invited the three questions.

Question 1: Mr Modi, this is regarding fielding, a term used in cricket wherein the fielders chase the ball and dive to stop the ball making it difficult for the batting side to score runs. Don’t you think that had India fielded well and their batsmen run faster between the wickets they could have easily become the No. 1 ODI team? Wasn’t the sacking of fielding coach Robin Singh inappropriate?

Modi: I don’t know what you are talking about? My guess is, you must be talking about the 2009 one- day series.  We have already moved on. I am in the 2014 IPL planning stage. I also don’t deal with the nitty-gritty of cricket administration any more.

Question 2: Mr Modi, what will happen to Test match cricket, I mean the classic cricket one plays with white pants and white shirts and a red ball for five days. It already looks dead now in 2009. I am afraid you will have to re-enter circa 2009 and answer my question.

Modi: I think the problem is with the dress. Let’s face it. How many of us wear a white pant and white shirt these days? Even while playing maidan or gully cricket? Everything has changed around. Isn’t it? We need to take a hard look at the dress and decide something on this. But again this comes under trivia.

Question 3: After planning IPL-50, Mr Modi what will you do with your time?

Modi: It is not easy organising these events in Moon or Mars. I have to make sure the logistics is just right no matter where we play.

Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.

No, he’s not laughing at the plight of Air-India

29 September 2009


On a day when Air India’s maharaja began to look a little less stately with its fat cats going on strike, the king of good times, Vijay Mallya—the owner of Kingfisher Airlines and a “doctorate of philosophy in business administration from the University of South California”—enjoys a hearty laugh at a business do in Bangalore on Tuesday.

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

The king of good times rescues a very old monk

The girls promise mischief. Are the boys upto it?

13 April 2009

KPN photo

Vijay Mallya has unveiled the lethal weapons in the arsenal of the Royal Challengers squad: “The Mischief Girls” who will be the cheer leaders for the Bangalore team in the Indian Premier League to be played in South Africa.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

What Indian Political League can learn from IPL

28 March 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: My friend, the Ace Political Expert (APE), who also sometimes doubles as the Ace Sports Specialist (ASS), was sulking in a corner in the lawns of our club.

As I wished him for the evening, he didn’t say anything, but just motioned me to sit. Usually a cross between a chatterbox and a high-pitch voice- box, I found his silence somewhat funereal.

After ordering the bearer to bring Mallya’s Kingfisher and Dasappa’s masal vade, I asked him the real reason why IPL was moving out of the country.

“Where were the “security concerns” when the Bombay police commissioner himself had cleared it? Or was it a doosra from P. Chidambaram under instructions from Sonia Gandhi to teach the great Maratha, Sharad Pawar, some lessons in ‘Power Play 2’ after the Congress-NCP seat-sharing talks broke down?”

APE, who was downing his sorrows alone for god knows for how long, considered the question, thoughtfully nibbled at the vade, and said: “This is terrible political blood-letting on a cricket pitch of 22x 2 mtrs. I feel they are moving the wrong event out of the country. They should have moved the elections to South Africa, England or Timbuktu or some such place. Cricketers in the IPL mainly believe in clean hitting, either for a 4 or 6, bringing a lot of joy to families out in the evening. Amongst cricketers, there are no sitting MPs who are convicts and thugs; there is nobody among them who is either in jail or becomes a thief, sorry, chief minister when he is out of it. Nobody has faced a TADA court or hides in a hospital feigning political ‘Heart Attack’.”

“That’s true,” I agreed.

“It’s the politicians, if at all, who need police protection, not only from terrorists but people themselves, if you see what happened after the Bombay terror attack. South Africa could have easily organised our elections there. True, liquor will flow right through; cash for votes will be a daily affair and booth capturing from the lackeys of candidates a strong possibility, but the police of RSA could have easily handled that under their goonda Act or something equivalent to that. Meanwhile, we would have had peaceful, exciting IPL matches with sellout crowds cheering the cheer girls.”

“Yes. It’s a pity. We will miss all that.”

“Also we would have seen genuine camaraderie between Sangakkara and Jayawardene with Yuvraj Singh; between Dhoni , Muthaiah Muralidharan and Flintoff; Sachin with Jayasuriya and Dravid with Pieterson.”

“That’s the main objective of club games which transcends nationalistic feelings.”

“Instead, what will we have?  Even within teams they are itching to finish each other off. Arun Jaitley is openly fighting BJP president Rajnath Singh and Sudanshu Mittal. Siddaramaiah in Karnataka is still a political pariah not acceptable to most Congressmen, but may become KPCC chief. Vishwanath in Mysore is facing open rebellion within the Congress party if he is given a ticket. What kind of a team spirit will they exhibit which can be a lesson for our  youngsters?” asked the APE as he gulped down his third whisky.

“So true.  No one considered that.”

” The Pathan brothers, often contest for the one berth in the team knowing one of them will have to lose out, but you won’t find Irfan pulling down Yusuf if Yusuf makes it to the team. They are not jealous of each other but are happy for each other’s success. Can we say that of Priyanka or Rahul with Varun? Both are Gandhis and cousins, but behave as if they are different species belonging to different planets.”

“How do you think it will all end this year?” I asked as the bearer brought our bill.

“IPL 2 will still succeed in South Africa like the first T20 World Cup played last year. It will be a thrilling contest in the final.”

“What about Lok Sabha elections?”

“I won’t be surprised if the voters skip elections on the days of matches. There will be fractured verdict; more asses will be paraded after horse-trading. Non-entities will rule the country as if it is their personal fiefdom,” prophesied APE as we got up to leave.

Why should “State” provide “security” for IPL?

11 March 2009

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Panjim: The question mark over the second edition of the Indian Premier League™ because of its overlap with the Indian Political League© hides a clutch of exclamatory marks for  what it reveals about “our system”.

Exclamatory mark No. 1: The doubts over IPL security flowered in the d$$$$r-stuffed head of the other Modi only after Sri Lankan cricketers were caught in the gunfire at Lahore’s gol chakkar. For a nation whose sub-standard roads are periodically strengthened with a dark red fluid gifted by countless brave and benevolent donors, who is he kidding with this state of denial?

Exclamatory mark No. 2:  From the Harvard gems dropped by Union home minister P. Chidambaram, it appears as if this mighty civilisation called India has the “security apparatus” for either the IPL or the ipl at any given point in our major cities but not the IPL and the ipl at the same time—or, heaven forbid, anything else.

What does that mean? If you are a petty thief, burglar, kidnapper, murderer, psycho, paedophile, rapist, arsonist or extortionist in these places, please mark April 10 to May 24 on your PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). (Note: These dates do not apply if you are just a jerk, a pink cheddi against PDA (Public Display of Affection) in the state of Karnataka).

Exclamatory mark No. 3: Since IPL cannot be postponed because there is no other “window in the ICC® calendar”, Bishen Singh Bedi on NDTV™ actually had the gall to suggest that ipl be put off. If you don’t think that is a nice sardarji joke, the only conclusion to come to is that Sharad Pawar who as the Union agriculture minister hasn’t bothered a whit about farmer suicides doesn’t give a shit about mass murder either.

What it also tells you is that the ruling alliance that is dependent on Pawar’s NCP doesn’t have the balls of the non-cricketing kind to tell this Modi or that Modi to get off the rampaging tiger. Such risk-taking by a risk-averse regime boggles the mind when even one incident during the IPL potential carries the risk of altering the ipl script that is going UPA’s way at the moment.

But what really gets my (admittedly vegetarian) goat is the ease with which the cash-flush BCCI®—the “world’s richest cricket body”—has managed to shift the entire onus of security on the “State” at a time of grave political importance.

“IPL is on,” scream Modi and his megaphones in the television media, as if their lives depends on it. But what about our lives?

Why isn’t Chidambaram or anybody else asking the big question:

Why should the “State” spend crores of rupees to provide the security for what is purely a private event staged in private stadiums by a conglomeration of private clubs played by private players who are the property of private owners who have their own private rules to promote their private businesses?

Lalit Modi is on record in today’s newspapers as saying that IPL will spend 10 times more money to take care of the security of players in Season 2. That’s a signal to the foreign players who have expressed apprehension after the Bombay and Lahore attacks.

But what about the spectators?

Why doesn’t the BCCI and IPL which are expected to make hundreds of crores this year, spend 10 per cent of that on security for the paying public, instead of expecting “the system” to do so at its expense?

And, pray, what precisely is the quality of security the police provide at cricket stadiums?

Look closely at television pictures of policemen at Indian grounds.

They are in uniform all right, so that we (and they, you know who) can spot them. But most of them end up as glorified ushers, who are hyper-active for the first half-hour after the game starts, and then plain happy to get to watch the game for free.

Should they really be given this pleasure by the “State” at the cost of the public within the stadium, and outside?

Admittedly, security is a “State” subject, and the “State” is supposed to protect “We, the People” and heaven knows what a ******* good job they did under Shivaraj Patil and L.K.Advani. (Those are seven asterisks, not seven stars, mind you.)

But if Vijay Mallya, to name one IPL owner, has his own private bouncers to protect his private business and protect security to his private guests at private bars and pubs owned by him, why doesn’t he do the same, say, at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore which will host his privately owned Royal Challengers™?

And why don’t the rest—Nita Ambani in Bombay, Juhi Chawla in Calcutta, Shilpa Shetty in Jaipur, Preity Zinta in Chandigarh? If they can spend millions to protect their lovely *****, and the delicate skins of the cheer leaders (in picture), why not on ours?

Photograph: courtesy Washington Redskins

The King of Good Times rescues a very Old Monk

6 March 2009


ASHWINI A. writes from Bangalore: Something that Indians rever was on the auctioner’s block in the Big Apple last night: the personal effects of the most selfless human to have walked this soil in the 20th century.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi‘s glasses, watch, sandals….

The Mahatma’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi launched a bid to retrieve the national jewels. Prime minister Manmohan Singh wanted the treasures back at all cost. Television anchors were frothing at the mouth. Backroom negotiations were on to prevent the auction.

Now it was off, now it was on.

Finally, on Friday morning, came the good news that the King of Good Times “Dr” Vijay Mallya had successfully bid for the items. “The nation can be proud and happy that the items are with us,” culture minister Ambika Soni said, chest all puffed up some pride, on television.

The Indian Government procured the five personal articles through the services of Mallya, she said, as it could not bid directly because of a stay order of the Delhi High Court.

But pause a moment to reflect on the irony.

And then imagine tomorrow morning’s newspaper headlines if there were some truly ballsy tabloids in the country:

Mallya rescues Mahatma

King of Good Times bails out Old Monk

Liquor Magnate buys Gandhi Goodies

Beer Baron picks up Gandhi’s Glasses

And then ask yourself this question:

In this country of a billion people, could the government of India only find a man, whose millions are built on liquor, to ensure that the artefacts of a man who abhorred it, stayed with India?

And then this question:

In rising, shining, growing India where corporate and industrialists and businessmen trip over each other to demonstrate their so-called “corporate social responsibility”, could only Vijay Mallya find the requisite crores in an economic downturn to prop up the Father of the Nation?

And then this one:

In the land of opportunities, in the US of A, in the land of a million Patels and Shahs hailing from “Vibrant Gujarat”—most of them motel owners, doctors, real estate brokers, investment bankers—could not a single Gujarati or a bunch of them find the wherewithal to help one of their own?

Why couldn’t the Birlas, with whom Gandhi shared a close relationship, in whose precincts the Mahatma received the assassin’s bullets, with a “Hey Ram!”? Why didn’t the Tatas or Mittals who are buying up companies all over the world as if they are going out of fashion?

Why didn’t the Ambanis of Chorwad—Modh banias like the Mahatma—who are building 24-storeyed skyscrapers or buying planes, for their wives on their birthdays?

Or how about churumuri‘s favourite IT czar: N.R. Narayana Murthy?

Infosys probably earns Rs 9 crore a day. Would it have been so difficult for the image-conscious company to buy up the items and erase the bad press Murthy got becuase of his perceived insult to the national anthem?

And so on.

Pardon me for going on like a stuck record. Sure, these are tough times, but the short point is: Is Rs 9 crore that big a sum for our Superbrands™? And do our corporates and their captains have any vision beyond the bottomline at all?

In an age when image is all, the Gandhi auction was a god-sent opportunity for individuals and institutions to score big time on goodwill and publicity.

In an electio season, what if the overseas outfits of the Congress or BJP had bought it? What if Mayawati had bought it, or Amar Singh who “donated” Rs 40 crore to the Bill Clinton Foundation? What if L.K. Adavni had, instead of spending silly zillions on Google ads?

What if Rahul, Priyanka or Sonia who have benefitted from the greatman’s surname?

While these people and others may rue the missed opporuntity, Vijay Mallya has earned his place in the history books after successfully bringing back the Tipu sword, proving once again that while he may not be everybody’s favourite CEO, he is certainly the smartest, the quickest of the blocks.

At least he puts his money where his mouth is.

As for the others, all they are destined to say tonight is “Cheers”, while Mallya laughs all the way to the bank.

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Vijay Mallya

Is State’s success in cricket & economics related?

25 January 2009

More proof that the most imaginative cricket writing in India comes not from cricket writers but those outside the press box.

Spurred by Uttar Pradesh’s Ranji Trophy showing, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar—a fully certified cricket freak—sticks his neck out and suggests a correlation between cricketing success and economic clout in today’s Sunday Times.

Aiyar says the fact that UP has been a finalist in three of the last four years, winning the trophy once, is a sign that India’s largest state is poised for economic take-off.

“I noticed this in my youth in regard to Karnataka. In the 1950s and 1960s, Karnataka was not economically backward but not a powerhouse either. Nor did it boast great cricketing prowess. But then it produced a string of great cricketes in the late 1960s and early 1970s—B.S. Chandrashekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Gundappa Vishwanath, Brijesh Patel. The State was Ranji Trophy finalist in four of the ten years between 1973-74 and 1982-83, winning twice.

“Karnataka’s cricket upsurge was followed by an economic upsurge. It gained stature first as an engineering hub, then as a hub of information technology. It had some good industries even in the 1960s but only later did it become a powerhouse…. A look at other Ranji Trophy finalists through the years [Bombay, Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat] also shows similar trends, however halting.”

Conversely, is Karnataka’s depleting fortunes in domestic cricket also related to the setting of the economic sun, to the shine going out of Bangalore?

Read the full article: Is UP about to take off?

Also read: Who killed cricket writing in India?

‘Nationalism has replaced cricket journalism’

What Vijay Mallya‘s team says about Mallya’s mind

CHURUMURI POLL: Are small-towners stronger?

The king of good times can’t spell annus horribilis

3 January 2009


Terrorism? Slowdown? Inflation? Communalism?

For the “doctorate of philosophy in business administration from the University of Southern California“, life is one big party as he looks over the shoulder of Atul Kasbekar shooting images for the annual Kingfisher calendar.

View the Kingfisher swimwear gallery here: The final blast

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Jet right to sack employees?

16 October 2008

Jet Airways has let go of hundreds of employees, a day after tying up with Kingfisher Airlines, in the first, visible manifestation of the global economic crisis hitting home.

Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel says it is an internal company matter of human resources and the government has no role to play. The Jet management avers that these job losses are imperative to save the jobs of others and to see the company through this downturn.

Meanwhile, the politicians have jumped in. Petroleum minister and Bombay Congress strongman Murli Deora has slammed the job cuts, and Raj Thackeray of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has threatened to ground Jet in Bombay. The left parties, usually very vociferous, have remained silent.

Are such abrupt job cuts a sign of the times, or a shape of things to come? Or, are the airline owners using the “aviation crisis” to balance their books to enhance “shareholder value”? Is it right or wrong to drop the young employees like hot potatoes at the first sign of trouble?

Football lessons for the Congress from Euro 2008

13 June 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I met my friend, the Old Football Freak (OFF)–cum-Congress spokesman at the lawns of the club before the start of Holland-Italy kick off in Euro 2008.

As a referee, OFF had once received a flattened nose as a gift while trying to bring peace between two marauding teams, gradually drifted into the muddy tracks of politics, and become one of the spokespersons of the Congress. His love for football was as much as Vijay Mallya‘s love for good times.

As we started our drinks, I asked him why the Congress had lost so badly in Karnataka when it should have been an easy walk in the park.

“We had a good team, but everybody played for himself and never gelled as a team.”

“What do you mean?”

“Yes. That’s what it is. We had three of our best forwards: Dharam Singh, Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjuna Kharge. If they had combined well we could have scored many goals, I mean we could have easily won. The forwards never passed the ball around. More often, they were thinking who would be the ‘Most Valuable Player’ or who would get the ‘Golden Boot’ award at the end. That is the reason why we were booted out. We had one more problem. Although Siddaramaiah wore Congress colours, most of the others went deliberately colourblind and ignored him completely!”

“But you had S.M. Krishna with you?”

“He played centre-half but didn’t move with the forwards nor stayed back with the defence. He was still thinking and running as if he was in Bombay’s Cooperage grounds. Mentally he was just not there. He was no more the khara bath-kesari bath Krishna we all knew. He had become Shrikhand-Misal Krishna.”

“What about stalwarts like Ambarish and M.P. Prakash?”

“The actor-MP wasn’t sure whether he was the forward-looking Mandya’s Gandugali, or the stout-hearted defender aspiring to be an MLA. By the time he sorted this out the game was over. As for Prakash, he didn’t know which team he was playing for. Even during the match he kept asking the referee which side he belonged to. He moved all over the field without touching the ball even once.”

” But didn’t the heavyweights like Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi come down to help you out?”

“Yes, they did, but they just remained heavy weights. They were more like visiting coaches from AC Milan and Inter Milan. The Italian coaches are good only in theory. That’s our experience here.”

“Didn’t the wide experience of C.K. Jaffer Sharief and H. Vishwanath come in hand?”

“They were just static fullbacks, all busy settling old scores. Some of them were even trying to score self goals so that we could lose and have a coalition government.  Deliberately passes were messed up in the middle. There was no mid-field strategy because of poor equations with centre-half.”

“Even JDS with purely local leaders seemed to have done better than you?”

“That’s true. Forget the main opponent BJP on the field. We were even distracted by the antics of a family causing disturbance in the stands. Unfortunately, even the referee and linesmen were very severe on us for simplest of fouls and infringements.”


“I don’t know. Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami and his colleagues as well as district officials like P. Manivannan were so ruthless on the field, they didn’t allow us to carry drinks, and other essential things on to the field, so necessary to win such crucial ties.”

“What next?”

“Unless we trade-off few of our players and get some fresh legs and get some good coaches too, definitely not Italian type, we don’t have much hope.”

All the news fit to print; all the booze fit to air?

11 June 2008

NDTV Good Times” is a lifestyle television channel that is the result of a collaboration between India’s leading English language television network NDTV, and India’s leading liquor manufacturer, United Breweries (UB).

On the face of it, “NDTV Good Times” may seem like a good idea for M/s Mallya & Roy.

For UB, the channel’s name gives the “King of Good Times” punchline of its Kingfisher beer constant, not-so-subtle on-air play given the ban on surrogate advertising. And, for another, UB gets the kind of content which it can then slap on the screens of the planes of its Kingfisher Airlines.

For NDTV, too, it is a win-win. It has another channel to offer viewers in its bouquet; it gets a stock-market listed media company some extra dough, an extra revenue stream; and it gives NDTV’s image of a media outsourcing company that it has craved and cultivated vide a deal with GenPact.

But can the relationship work the other way round, too?

Obviously, a liquor company can use the packaging of its products to advertise its own channel. But does it work on tipplers? Does it create greater awareness of the channel or the partnership? Do Kingfisher-drinkers remember to switch on the channel after the hypnogogic haze has vanished? Do the TRPs suggest that?

More importantly, can a serious media house like NDTV allow its brand image to be exploited on liquor boxes? Does it need to? Admittedly, the beer boxes are only pushing “NDTV Good Times” but can such a symbiotic relationship work without affecting the credibility of the main news and business channels?

Maybe, there is nothing puritanical about the Mammon-worshipping modern market place. Signage is important and getting the message any which way is all that counts to put some black ink on the bottomline. That may be OK for a liquor house, but for a media house in the news business?

Put another way, would New York Times allow its logo on Budweiser boxes even if Bud paid billions?

Cross-posted on sans serif

The greatest dream in the history of democracy

23 May 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I was watching Sreenivasan Jain trying to moderate the dog (?) fight between Margaret Alva and Sushma Swaraj amidst some invited guests on NDTV and wondering how difficult it was for pollsters to predict a winner.

It’s become worse than guessing an IPL 20-20 winner, I thought, except of course when Vijay Mallya is serving his RC.

As the lids closed over my eyes on results day, I could hear Prannoy Roy….

It was one of the greatest victories for democracy in the world. S. M. Krishna, who came to bring Congress back to power, got 75 seats. H.D. Deve Gowda, who had stepped down from national politics to fight local elections, also got 75 seats. The junior most among the three, B.S. Yediyurappa, got 73 seats.

The only independent in the 224-seat Assembly was M. Lakshmana from Mysore.

If this was not historic enough, the three parties pledged to bury their differences and form a united government for the welfare of the people.

For the first time in the history of Indian politics, there would be no Opposition—the lone member Lakshmana would constitute the responsible benches.

The Chief Minister wouldn’t be a person, but a committee.

The Government led by Krishna, Gowda and Yedi took their oath simultaneously from Bangalore, Hassan and Shimoga which was seen in all villages across the State, thanks to a simultaneous live telecast on Chandana TV.

Sonia Gandhi became the chairperson and Deve Gowda agreed to be deputy Chairperson of the government of United National Farmers and Information Technology. (UNFIT).

Thus Karnataka became the first State ever, officially to have an UNFIT government of the people, for the people, by the people.

The new government started its work as if it had been struck by a tsunami.

Gowda, not only echoed the views of Krishna and announced distribution of free TV and rice at Rs. 2 a kilo but also added ragi to the list. Not to be outdone, Krishna doubled the reservation of jobs to 60% for Kannadigas in the IT, BT sector, which was originally a Deve Gowda idea. Yediyurappa announced distribution of free cycles for teachers all over the State and promised to open a cycle factory. He also promised to clear their pending salaries within the next couple of months.

SMK called the PWD minister H.D. Revanna and exhorted him to make Bangalore a Singapore as well as Shanghai, the latter being Deve Gowda’s pet dream whenever he dozed off on the dais.

Revanna ordered all JCBs to be rounded up to immediately acquire lands for the same.

Gowda embraced Ashok Kheny and asked him to create the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor at the earliest and assured him no roadblocks this time. He authorized his sons to ensure Kheny got whatever land he wanted.

What’s more, the humble farmer from Holenarsipur made an impassioned plea to N.R. Narayana Murthy to let bygones be bygones and handle the IT responsibilities of the Government.

The UNFIT government announced to and fro free travel by helicopter for passengers to and from Devanahalli Airport.

A small dispute arose when Deve Gowda insisted that the airport be called “S.M. Krishna International Airport” which was rejected by Krishna who wanted it be called “H.D. Deve Gowda International Airport”.

Finally, a sort of compromise was reached; it was decided to name the arrival terminal as “Deve Gowda International Arrival Terminal” (DEGOIT) and the departure terminal as “Krishna International Departure Terminal” (KRIDET). Likewise the National terminals were also apportioned in the names of H.D. Kumaraswamy and Yediyurappa.

There was prosperity everywhere.

People eating top-quality rice at Rs2 a kilo all the time put on weight watching IPL matches on the free colour TV. Tourists from Shanghai and Singapore flocked to Bangalore to gape at the city and Revanna and wondered how their cities would look if only they modernized their cities on similar lines.

The UNFIT leaders decided to go to Delhi to meet the high command. But Soniaji herself called to inform she was coming with Manmohanji to accord classical status to Kannada. It was decided to arrange a grand reception in the open space opposite Vidhana Soudha an the stage would be called “Sonia Gandhi Manch” for that day.

Sonia had decided to give a speech in Kannada this time script written in Kannada. She had decided to give a surprise to Kannadigas by dressing like “Onake Obavva” with an onake (pistle) in hand while delivering the speech.

The lone opposition member was initially invited for the function. Later apprehending, he might raise uneasy questions like Chamalapura Thermal Plant, 24×7 Cauvery water for Mysore, they dropped the idea.

Black flag demonstrations were banned in the vicinity.

Soniaji arrived on stage with a onake in hand and banged it on the dais to get the attention of the audience. She started off with “Anna thammandire matthu akka thangiare, Nimagellarigu Namaskara…”

I woke up with a start. The remote control had dropped from my lap and hit the ground.

My wife was shouting.. . “Yellri! The mining belt is fighting election with helicopters and guns. Dishum dishum yuddha shuruvaythu.”

The greatest experiment in democracy in Karnataka was over.

And the SMS Shah Rukh Khan sent Saurav Ganguly

22 May 2008

For all the initial sizzle and high jinks, Saurav Ganguly‘s Calcutta Knight Riders have had as poor a run as Rahul Dravid‘s Royal Challengers. But unlike Dravid’s “employer” “Dr” Vijay Mallya, Ganguly’s “owner” Shah Rukh Khan has a way about dealing with failure.

In blaming CEO Charu Sharma, in blaming captain Dravid, and then blaming the media, the king of good times showed that he is just a boor of bad times, despite his “doctorate of philosophy in business administration from the University of Southern California.”

On the other hand, King Khan sent an SMS to his boys.

“Story time boys… I told you if you keep losing you have to bear with my long, boring msgs…. This is your punishment…. Many times I have made movies which don’t do well…. When I’m doing them, of course, I don’t know they won’t do well…. The story is written by somebody else and I just do my bit as an actor. But I have a way of dealing with flop stories…, I try my best to keep my character in the film at a level that it makes a failed story also special for me….

“I enjoy the work…. I make jokes about the failure…. And, of course, feel awful about it too…. So, right now, all of us have become part of a failed script… A bad IPL script…. Let’s try and keep our characters worthy of still looking back at this story and remembering it as a special story becos we all worked very hard at this….

“So, chin up and don’t spoil yr character in the next two games…. Let’s go out with a bang and not a whimper…. In films, we say u r only as good as yr last film…. So let’s make the whole world know how good we r in the last (maybe not) two games…

“Also, do ignore all this bit about Dada, me and John Buchanan having issues…. It’s a normal thing in the world…. People like to hit you when u r down…. So, we will be hit…. No stress…. It will make us stronger…. The only way to avoid this is to win…. That’s one of the reasons why everybody likes to be a winner….

“On the other hand, the beauty of failure is that it brings people together…. So, let’s stick this out together…. You know me well enuff to know I am not the kind of owner who has issues with the team ’cos of losses… I am too much of a sport myself to get beaten by defeats…. Like you guys are…. Like Dada and John….

“I am still trying to understand the code of conduct expected of me at the matches of the IPL…. ICC… Etc…. After I understand it, I will decide whether to accept it or not…. Till such time, I will be with you guys at the hotel… in the meetings etc., but won’t come for the matches…. So, please don’t ever feel it is anything to do with us as a team….

“I am as dedicated to my Knights as I am to my kids…. Only, I won’t be coming to the class room till the headmaster’s rules are understood by me…. I am a bit anti-Establishment kind of a guy, so I apologise for this quirk to u all…. So, head’s up…. Have a good match and let’s make 200 runs tomorrow…. This 150 seems to not work any more….

“We have nothing to lose now, except our character…. Let’s not lose that…. Lov… SRK.”

Also read: The SMS that Rahul Dravid sent Vijay Mallya

What Mallya’s team says about Mallya’s mind

CHURUMURI POLL: Twenty20 to promote 60-30?

One question I am dying to ask “Dr” Vijay Mallya

The SMS that Rahul Dravid sent Vijay Mallya

17 May 2008

Harsha Bhogle in The Indian Express:

“Intentionally or otherwise, Vijay Mallya has unleashed a wonderful, but hitherto unknown, word into Indian cricket. We have always plodded along in Indian cricket and accountability was this word from another language that occasionally filtered through our barriers. We knew it existed, as we did at various times achtung and détente and glasnost or even shiraz and tom yum.”

Meanwhile excerpts from Vijay Mallya‘s diary:

“Another loss. Got piss drunk. Broke some bottles of competitors’ booze and had a few swigs of RC. Blanked out. I hate cheap whiskey. Awoke to Rahul‘s sms. Says he’s not going to play the game anymore. What a relief. Finally, I can replace that white elephant…. More bad news, I looked at Rahul’s sms again. He said he’s not going to play the blame game anymore. I hate cheap whiskey.”

Read the full diary: Excerpts from Vijay Mallya’s diary


Finally, a cricket team is only as good as its City

13 May 2008

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: With the Yuvi team trouncing the UB® team in the Indian Premier League last night, there is one more reason for Vijay Mallya to get smashed tonight and tell his accountants to “stop payment” on the cheques of the players.

The poor little rich boy¤ can blame the horses, he can blame the jockey, he can blame the trainer, he can even blame the vaastu of the cheer girls. But, here’s a point to ponder: is the Bangalore team’s revival beyond Rahul Dravid, beyond Charu Sharma, beyond the players, beyond the redskins, beyond Mallya?

In short, to take a fatalistic view, is the pathetic performance of “Team Bangalore” just a reflection of the pathetic condition of “Brand Bangalore”?

Is it beyond cricket?

One of my pet theories is that the success of a City spurs success on other fronts and in other spheres, which then gets reflected in countless other ways. And to me, the plight of the Royal Challengers is only the most outward sporting manifestation of all that is wrong with the City they seemingly represent.

The late 1990s was what journalists (and only journalists!) call the halcyon period of Karnataka cricket which is really Bangalore cricket.

There were six, sometimes seven, players in the Indian team: Dravid and Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad regularly, and Sunil Joshi, Dodda Ganesh, Sujith Somasunder, David Johnson, Vijay Bharadwaj off and on.

The Karnataka team itself was top of the heap in the Ranji Trophy, and other domestic tournaments. Brijesh Patel was chief selector before a heart condition felled him. Talents like Yere Gowd couldn’t get in, so they had to go to Railways to chase their fortune. Dharmichand had to flee to Singapore.

There was, it seems, nothing that Karnataka could do wrong on the cricket field at the time.

Almost a decade later, they seem to do so twice a week.

The point I am trying to make—hypothetical as it is—is that Karnataka’s cricketing success was a small speck in a larger success story involving the State if not the City-State of Bangalore.

For starters, this was roughly the time the City was making “I” and “T” the two most important letters of the Indian alphabet. This was the time H.D. Deve Gowda was shedding his farming humility to become prime minister. This was the time Amitabh Bachchan was putting up the “Miss World” show. This was the time S.M. Krishna was coming in and jumbled up letters like BATF seemed like a manna from Mavalli.

Ergo: in the late ’90s, there was a buzz about Bangalore, a positive buzz which the team seemed to carry on to the cricket field. There was spunk in the Bangalore air, and a spring in everybody’s toes.

Swing into 2008 and the contrast is obvious.

When Mallya complains that he was constantly told that the practice facilities for the IPL team were bad, it seems like an echo of the general infrastructure complaint that is on everybody’s lips in Bangalore!

Of course, this is a debatable point but that is the whole point of this piece: debate.

You could run this theory to other cities and States too with some luck. When a delicate saboteur called V.V. S. Laxman was setting fire to the turf, Chandrababu Naidu was “hot”. Pullela Gopichand was winning the all-England tournament. Sania Mirza was breaking on to the scene.

When Tinu Yohanan was making his debut, Kerala was just coming off a high of Arundhati Roy winning a Booker prize, of K.R. Narayanan becoming the first Dalit president, of the State marketing itself as “God’s Own Country”, prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was taking a holiday there.

Cut to Calcutta, and when Saurav Ganguly was looking skywards and imperiously gesturing to the planets to move squarer, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was the in-thing in the small universe that is bhadralok.


The short point is, when cities, states and City-States do well, there seems to be a sudden burst of creative output, sporting, literary, political, intellectual, etc. It is a massively osmotic process: everybody feeds off each other’s success/ image.

The afterglow is collective.

But when things go wrong, like ring a ring o’ roses, all fall down.

Of course, there are hundreds of other examples which can be offered to establish just the exact opposite. That’s why there’s a “Comment” button below! So, fire.

Photograph: courtesy Vijay Padiyar

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

13 May 2008

Few things are more moving in public life than a billionaire businessman wailing over some loose change that has trickled out of a hole in his hip pocket. And Vijay Mallya—booze baron, airline ace, racing raja, party pasha, stud farm stud, calendar czar, super showman, and yes, once Janata Party president—presents that amazing snapshot today.

The owner of the Bangalore team in the Indian Premier League (IPL), who spent over Rs 400 crore to procure the franchise, is blaming the team’s former CEO Charu Sharma and the team’s current captain Rahul Dravid for the plight of the Royal Challengers. He says the duo ignored his list of players at the IPL auction, that Sharma was only giving excuses for the team’s poor performances, etc.

What is the one question you would like to ask the honourable “doctorate of philosophy in business administration from the University of Southern California“?

Photograph: courtesy Trak

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

CHURUMURI POLL: Twenty20 to promote 60-30?