The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Milin Ramani, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
Why can’t the India’s richest sporting body and the richest cricket board in the world (yes, I am talking about BCCI) can put a desired system and required processes in place to make it run much more efficiently ?
Alleged financial wrongdoings. Massive cost overruns in stadium construction. Factions at loggerheads, often involving personages on the same side of the political spectrum. An elaborate system of proxy voting. Non-submission or disclosure of annual balance sheets and alleged tax defaults. The controversial goings-on in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) have spilled over into the public domain in recent weeks in the course of the escalating political war between former DDCA president and present Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The DDCA, however, is only a microcosm of the “secret society” that is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), its inner workings mirroring all that is wrong with the mother ship.
The stakes rose as the game grew with television audiences, multi-million marketing deals and the advent of instant cricket epitomised by the Indian Premier League (IPL). Today, the BCCI functions from a plush building in Mumbai. With Rs.1,200 crore in its coffers, it is the richest sports body in India. It was the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal that invited judicial scrutiny, and public interest at large, into what ostensibly is a private body registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. The Supreme Court formed a three-member panel headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha to inquire into and recommend improvements in the BCCI’s functioning; the committee has submitted its report and suggested sweeping reforms on January 4th , 2016.
Its recommendations are comprehensive, straightforward and offer the best hope for sorting out the mess in Indian cricket. The most radical reform the Lodha committee pushes is to bring in strict eligibility criteria for BCCI office bearers to safeguard it from politicians. No officer bearer, it says, should be a minister or government servant. They must also have fixed three-year tenures and no office bearer can hold two terms consecutively. These measures can really control the noxious marriage between politics and cricket.
The committee is also spot on in arguing that BCCI’s activities must come under the RTI Act, justifiably arguing that “the people of the country have a right to know the details about the BCCI’s functions and activities”. Legalising betting is another sensible recommendation as it will help curb corruption. The committee has also gone to the heart of the matter by recommending uniformity in the structure and voting rights of state associations. Most state units have little accountability and the committee’s push for transparency in their funding by BCCI and for making it performance-based is welcome. This will help save Indian cricket from being a cosy club of insiders.
While the committee lauds the new BCCI chief Shashank Manohar for adopting and implementing some of the committee’s recommendations even before the report came out and for pursuing reform measures “in the right direction”, it is also unequivocal that “they are not comprehensive and substantive”.
Given the status of cricket in India, the stakes are very high. So Mr. Manohar and BCCI should embrace full implementation of the Lodha recommendations. This will also set a precedent and an example for other sporting bodies in India to follow.
Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Reforms in Cricket (click this link)