Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar
These days if you want news you better be an active Twitter - and if you do not want to be in the news ensure that you and all those whom you contact are NOT in Twitter.
An unseemly controversy has erupted over the Cochin Franchise and is bound to rock both the Parliament of the Country and the Cricket establishment. In a way it is good, for the cupboard is now opened before more skeletons can be shoved into it.
This is like an old Hindi /Tamil film a Love Triangle - with the the three corners being Lalit Modi , the Commisioner of the IPL . The Hon'ble Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and a lady from the Middle east , Sunanda Pushkar , Sales manager of TECOM ( A real estate company).
Let us take the dubious roles of each of the three - Ladies first . She has been given a sweat equity in the Cochin IPL franchise valued today at 75 Crore Rs ( media report). The Franchise representative Mr. Gaikwad says her name was recommended by a "friend" and this is for her Professional expertise over the next 10 years - unbelievable !!!
It is more than the base salary that Indira Nooyi draws - In fact annualised at 7.5 crores - which is wrong as this has been given up front and assuming this Marketing whiz is not going to draw any compensation from the Franchise - the salary is more than what any of the CEOs draw in any company here. It is at least three times the salary that people like Ratan Tata , Rajiv Bajaj , Azim Premji and Muthuraman ( Tata Steel) draw as salaries - Sunil Mittal of Bharti draws a salary of 12 odd crores.
I have not heard of this lady being any kind of Brand Manager, Media expert, Cricket expert, Advertising Creative Head . This compensation is certainly not for just "expert marketing advice"- Who are you trying to fool Mr.Gaikwad ? You could have hired almost any Top Indian Executive for that Price , Indeed even taken the best brains from the European Football League for the first two years and then sent them off , without diluting your stake and parting with shares that will probably double in a few years. Have you not heard of the report that the Punjab franchise is up for sale and each share holder will probably triple his/her investment.
Now for the "external affair" , the second corner of the Triangle singing "Dost dost naa raha..." - He claims that he was just a "mentor" because he wants to spread cricket in Kerala , give the State a fillip etc. The motives are great and worthy of emulation. A mentor does not have to follow up every bit of the way - a mentor will guide and let them take the needed action - what is the need for such a mentoring ? If the stature of a Minister is required to counter "other" pressures or neutralize other forces then Shashi should have brought it up to the attention of the PM and got the process made transparent and open. After all was this not done in the 3G spectrum auctions ? , much to the chagrin of Shri Raja and his band of supporters. This obviously shows that all is not above board with the IPL. This clearly implies that there is much more than what meets the eye and the Minister has not just been a mentor but more a Tutor and the Tuition fees was paid not to him for his hands are clean - paid to his friend and he "did not know of her business deals". Amazing !!!
What is more shocking is that Mr Gaikwad accused lalit of many things , which would have come to the mentor's attention , after all when you can call for delayed forms etc , you must have been in the know of things , especially such a shocking "bribe" attempt, WHY DID YOU NOT BLOW THE WHISTLE THEN....? Why did you not ask Mr Gaikwad to at least complain to the BCCI President the very same day.? Why wait till now to unleash all that dirt on Lalit Modi ????
We now come to Lalit Modi - the "drug peddler" - according to Shashi's aides leaked information , the man who offered a 50 Million dollar bribe to Cochin to keep away etc. A lot of crap is thrown at this man , most will not stick. The bribe part is ludicrous as the team's were auctioned off and paying 50 million to them will only result in a re auction and not transfer of Title. In any case that will not prevent them from participating in the re auction with a "new" mentor if needed. So is Lalit squeaky clean - I do not think so. He is a wheeler -Dealer and if at all he has short changed anybody it is the BCCI . I do not know if we , as Citizens can claim that BCCI's wealth is national Wealth etc.
I wonder why no one has, under the Right to Information act asked for details of franchise owners ? I agree that the BCCI is not part of the Government but it is under the aegis of the Ministry of Sports. Maybe RTI may not apply but a PIL will certainly stick.
The time has come for the entire financials of ALL the franchisees to be examined , who spent what, what is the source of funds, where did the funds originate, who gains from it, do they pay taxes , what expenses are they claiming, has Tax been paid on that - does IPL a kind of entertainment form part of the "Service Tax" net ? Are exemptions being given ? if so why ?
This should be probed and answers provided. But will they ? The answer is an unequivocal "NO" as many State associations are today under the Presidentship of the Politicians. The others are with Business men who are probably better as they at least have the "legitimate" source for Money. No one can claim that Mumbai Indians or Chennai Super Kings were financed by " dirty/laundered " money. India Cements is a listed Company and it's balance sheet available for scrutiny.
I do know that a very very large part of the BCCI's earnings ( almost 80 plus percent) is shared by all the State associations and that a few of these associations actually spend the money for the promotion of the game at all levels in the State ( Tamil Nadu does).
WHAT IS NEEDED IS A THOROUGH ENQUIRY BY A COMMITTEE OF SUPREME COURT JUDGES - THE UN INFLUENCABLE KIND - INTO THE WAY THE BCCI , STATE CRICKET ASSOCIATIONS AND MOST IMPORTANTLY IPL IS RUN (with special emphasis on the financing and spending) ..... Just like what took place in America years ago - and a regulatory agency brought in. After all did not SEBI come into being only when the Stock Market really Boomed - now Cricket has.
Manmohan Ji , can you rock the boat ? sorry Ship ?
Never , for like the Titanic it may sink.
Therefore the easy and painless way out is for two of the three corners of the Triangle to be faded away - Shashi and Lalit slowly eased out and the Philip Kotler from the middle east will by a natural process disappear - the IPL will continue and we will all still howl for sachin , anil, shane , dhoni etc to perform .... they will both on the field and in Advertisements which will go to further fund the Channels and then The IPL and then the Teams and then more auctions and more mentors - but will all mentors have such "beautiful" Marketing Gurus/Consultants....I doubt it, and that is a sad thought.