What India can learn from the IPL

Last Updated: Sat, May 25, 2013 00:48 hrs

1. The private sector needs monitoring

You can't take a nation forward if there's no energy in the private sector. And the Indian corporates have only begun to work their way into the country's narrative. However, it does seem that our private sector needs a hand.

Every private growth story has had its dark side. The IPL is teaching us again that India isn't yet ready to sleep with the corporates at the wheel. The conduct of the franchise owners suggests we need to keep an eye on them. It's a repeat of what happens elsewhere, say, aviation, mining, cinema, real estate, etc.

2. When many do wrong, outrage is muted

A scandal needs a villain. It then goes down nicely, generates the appropriate outrage and we have someone we can punish. But when many have their hand in the till, things get fuzzy. A quote often attributed to Joseph Stalin puts it best: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.

If the IPL fixing saga was about one big shocking fish, it might have helped understand how it all went wrong. Now, we have a name a day. The story has already traversed Rajasthan, Kerala, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Dubai, and the UK with mention of South Africa and Australia. It's too big and too complicated to matter.

In time, we'll know with clarity. Right now, they're still flocking to the IPL. It's the same with politics. Skilled perpetrators will confuse us.

3. Greed is blind

In lay man terms, greed is easiest understood as a selfish and excessive desire for more of something, usually money and material goods. The trouble is that greed is blind. And it doesn't know when to stop.

It would in most circumstances be enough if you head a flourishing cricket outfit that runs the game in the country. It would be more than enough if you also run a big cement company that seems to grown in a competitive sector. If you are a Test cricketer, the mere fact should be enough.

Yet, once greed is in charge, man follows. It's the same with any human activity: policing, finance, governance, justice, education, media or cinema. Every sphere has greed.

4. A mask is never a substitute

If you wear a mask long enough, it will rip your skin off when the time comes to take the mask off. If you are married into wealth and your standing comes from being a rich man's son-in-law, be so. Why pass off as CEO or boss? If you are a starlet, why pass off as a cricket reporter?

If Indian cricket is not sound in the basics, say so. Why pass off a cosmetic IPL as the real thing? If the stadia are empty for Tests, fix it. Why show stadia filled with free pass holders in IPL matches as popular support? If you are a crooked cricketer, why feign indignation on the field?

It's the same everywhere else: politics, homes, workplaces.

5. You live and die by the company you keep

There is possibly no reason why a cricketer's wife should attend every match he plays. The cricketer, most likely, wouldn't be at his wife's workplace, for instance. And if you are the Indian cricket captain's wife, it is prudent to have family or friends next to you. Or you watch from home.

Likewise, if you are a cricketer, it is a good idea to stay off late night parties. You're not in control of the guest list at a party unless you are the host. IPL after-match parties have only caused trouble so far – for umpires, cricketers, administrators, policemen and cheerleaders.

Unless a young girl is not able to pay for her education, why would she want to pout and prance in public? At least one cheerleader has said her job was like porn. At least one international captain was named for inappropriate conduct with a cheerleader.

Company. It matters. It tells. It kills. In public and personal life.

6. It is a good idea to spell everything out

All cards must be on the table. We live in times that demand total transparency. Any attempt to hide or play around with the truth has consequences. All IPL team owners need to list the hierarchy on websites. The IPL website must have it in full detail.

Who the owners and co-owners are; what percentage of ownership they hold, names of people allowed into auctions, names of relatives, list of people allowed into dugouts and playing area, the rules in detail, etc.

Else, things blow up like they have with the Chennai Super Kings whose performances in six years of IPL must be looked at again. Put it all out, on websites. Update every time something happens.

For political parties, NGOs, corporates, media houses, film production companies, everyone: opaque = trouble.

7. Be the best, not the richest

For all the hullaballoo of the IPL, India is not the best cricket team on the planet. South Africa and England are far better and they make no fuss with their cricket. The IPL is the richest cricket league in the world but that has nothing to do with the quality of cricket being played.

India is full of people willing to spend on cricket. There are many businessmen willing to invest in it. It's a good mix. Add good marketing and superb technology, and you have a product that will sell. It doesn't, however, make India the best.

It's the same with many of our endeavours. We're not the best in cinema, sport, politics, journalism, and so on. Where we are the best, like with our tea, nothing else matters.

8. If it's broke, fix it

If the IPL needs to be fixed, the right way, do so. Why live in denial. Systems are still in the works. Everyone is desperate to make big money, which drives them into strange behaviour on and off the field. Even the umpires need correction, it appears.

And, we might want to investigate the number of no balls that were not called. They could be in hundreds. The bottom line: The IPL needs an urgent relook. As do our governance systems, Bollywood practices, and education and health systems.

9. Talk, talk, talk, to people

A crisis is a great opportunity. When trouble comes, the tough and the honest must be on call. If the IPL head and the BCCI boss go missing, it can only get worse. There's no substitute to communication. When people feel uneasy, they want to talk.

The first instinct of Indian public figures, curiously, is to run. Doubt, suspicion and stress follow. In politics and in cricket.

10. Put problems on the table

By now, the BCCI, IPL franchise owners and senior Indian cricketers ought to have met formally to discuss the problems in our cricket. They haven't. Instead, we have individual cameos which don't help.

By the time they eventually meet, the problems would have piled up. Blame starts to get apportioned, which makes people defensive. They are then more interested in saving themselves and not the game that made them in the first place.

The lone BCCI meet after the spot-fixing scandal broke doesn't count because it isn't enough. It's the same with our politics. It takes too much to make them do too little.

More by the author: 

Thank you, Sreesanth!

Karnataka, a way ahead

Ten ways India can make China respect it

New India, new police

Rajiv Gandhi and the muddlemen of Indian defence

Silly Vijender, sillier state

Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi. His most recent journalism assignment was as executive editor with The Financial World, New Delhi, and tehelka.com.

He was a guest on Season 1 of the popular Indian TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan.

Vijay blogs here and may be contacted at vijsimha@gmail.com.

More from Sify: