FROM THE EDITOR- IN- CHIEF
The phenomenal rise of the Board of Control for Cricket in India ( BCCI) over the last two decades ought to have been told as a story of unparalleled success. In a game that had traditionally been dominated by the financial and administrative clout of England and Australia for a century, BCCI’s emergence as the richest and most influential body in world cricket defied the odds. Beginning post- liberalisation, India’s cricket administrators leveraged India’s rapidly growing economy to attract vast sums of money into its most popular sport.
Unfortunately, BCCI’s rapid rise was built on a weak edifice. The sums of money the board attracted and managed were of enviable corporate dimensions. It made a profit ( or surplus, since it’s technically a non- profit body) of almost Rs 400 crore in 2011- 12. However, the governance structures— including norms of transparency and accountability— emulated the worst of a crony capitalist system. Now, as Indian cricket faces possibly its worst crisis ever, the absence of a strong foundation in its administrative body threatens to destroy the credibility of the game that we are all so passionate about.
Last week, we did a cover story on BCCI President N. Srinivasan who is at the centre of the latest storm. Amazingly, he continues to cling on to his office despite the arrest of his son- in- law ( who, despite official denials, was a key figure in the Chennai Super Kings ( CSK) franchise owned by India Cements, a Srinivasan- owned company) in the IPL spot- fixing scam. What was most shocking was the initial reaction of key officials and members of BCCI. They all rallied around their tainted boss, exposing a system— rather than a single individual— that was resistant to accountability. BCCI’s members are no ordinary citizens. Among the 30 voting members are four Union ministers— C. P. Joshi, Farooq Abdullah, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rajeev Shukla— and three prominent leaders of the leading opposition party— Arun Jaitley and Narendra Modi are in fact potential prime ministers, while Anurag Thakur heads BJP’s youth wing. Day after day, these powerful politicians speak out about the need for probity in public life. But when it came to BCCI, all except Scindia chose silence as their first- choice strategy.
What seems apparent is that everyone who has a role in BCCI has played some part in promoting or at least endorsing the flawed system in place. After all, nobody raised objections when BCCI’s constitution was amended to allow office- bearers ( read Srinivasan) to also have active business interests in the game ( the CSK IPL franchise). Everyone could have got together to force a thorough clean- up of the IPL after the tainted Lalit Modi was removed from BCCI in 2010. Even now, as support for Srinivasan has begun to wane in the face of huge public outrage, nobody is talking about a fundamental overhaul of the system. It seems that most people in the system have much to gain from the status quo. The patronage network is huge. The compromise is deep.
Our cover story, written by Deputy Editor Kunal Pradhan and Associate Editor G. S. Vivek, deconstructs the beast that BCCI has become. It turns out that BCCI is run by the formation of opportunist short- term alliances between key members rather than rules and norms. There is much intrigue and politicking which occasionally yield a spectacular ouster of someone important. That does not change the system.
In India, reform often happens in the shadow of a crisis. BCCI is not owned by anyone. It is a non- profit association formed for the benefit of cricket and must be transparent and conform to norms of good governance. This is the time to flush out the culture of mutual back scratching and restore the prestige of this august body of India’s premier sport.
OUR MAY 2000 COVER