Tuesday, April 27, 2010

IPL. Period

A couple of years back, the whole world was talking about the Indian Premier League. For all the right reasons. Today everyone is talking about IPL, for all the wrong reasons. The frachise has gone from glitzy to sleazy within the snap of one's fingers and even now, the papers are filled with stories as more muck comes to the fore.

So, we've had a roller coaster ride, with Twitter being the central character here. One Union Minister, perhaps new to murky Indian politics, was consumed by the seasoned alligators of Indian politics and business, but not before the media made a spectacle of his in-office and alleged out-of-office life. Some lady who was living her own life was also splashed across the front pages of newspapers. Some other ministers vowed and swore that they had nothing to do with the whole IPL muck, only to meekly squeak out a possibly remote connection. The kind of money that has moved hands and accounts between every available tax haven is obscene and one wonders what one person would do with that amount of money. I can't build a shopping list with even the wildest of my imagination - private jet : check, BMW : check, a palace for a house, chalets in the French Riviera, and I could go on, but yet not exhaust all that money. But then again, maybe that's why common people seldom ever end up with that kind of money. And finally, we had Mr Lalit Modi make a charged up speech at the final presentation ceremony, making everyone wonder why this speech here. We got our answers the next day in the papers - Because he was suspended!

What does all this mean for a simple observer on the outside? Well, cricket has always held the imagination of the Indian population. Now, the IPL was a welcome change on the Indian television, a way out of the drab soap operas that had stultified the Indian imagination. People had a reason to rush out of work and head home to cheer for their state team or for their favorite player. There was a topic to talk about by the coffee machine the next morning at work. So, with the franchise mired in controversy, does it change anything for the average Indian? If we just walk past the roadside chaiwallah, we get to hear the opinion of the aam aadmi. And in one of my walks, I came across a discussion on the IPL brouhaha. One chap blatantly said, “Who doesn’t get involved in corruption these days? Construction companies, businessmen, everyone is involved and the common man is not so stupid as to not know of the existence of such misdemeanors. But what can you do? Just take it as a way of life and any anomaly over and beyond the existing corruption should raise eyebrows. This is everyday stuff indeed”. True. Every business has its own fair share of skeletons in the closet. This business involved top political honchos. This business involved wayyy to much money. This business had managed to capture the imagination of almost the entire Indian population. Decidedly, the magnitude of the corruption should also be large enough to match, right? So everyone is a winner here. The sport of cricket has found another interesting avenue. The initiators of this enterprise have made bundles and bundles of money. Politicians have gotten more than their 15 seconds of fame. Media has gotten itself a really juicy story that it can enjoy for quite a while and the Indian population stands to benefit the most. On one hand, we have cricket, always a pleasure and on the other hand, we have gossip and scandal, another topic that manages to scintillate the human mind. Yes, ethics have gone for a full toss. But hey, tell me something new.

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