The Global Social Network
A 2010 NY Times story on corruption in Indian cricket:
Founded three seasons ago, the Indian Premier League managed to make the sport of cricket sexy. India’s corporate titans bought teams, Bollywood stars infused matches with celebrity glamour and fans from Mumbai to Dubai to New Jersey followed the league on television as its value rose to more than $4 billion.
For many Indians, the league, known as the I.P.L., became a symbol of a newly dynamic and confident India that was expanding its influence in the world. Yet after weeks of allegations of graft and financial malfeasance, the resignation of a government minister and the suspension of the league’s charismatic commissioner, the league has become emblematic of something else: how much the old and often corrupt political and business elite still dominates the country.
“The great pity in India is that creations like the I.P.L. became a victim of their own success,” the editor in chief of the magazine India Today, Aroon Purie, wrote this month. “Where there is money involved, especially large sums, corruption is not far behind.”
Ramachandra Guha, a historian who has written a book about cricket, said the I.P.L. tailored itself to the aspirations, and alienation, of an Indian middle class disillusioned with the country’s corruption and poverty. But Mr. Guha said the organization of the league — with teams located in India’s most affluent cities as opposed to having one in every state — has effectively mirrored the deep inequality in society.
“It is the India that is doing well economically,” he said. “It shuts itself off from the other 800 million Indians who live in the hinterlands.”
Now, Mr. Modi is gathering documents for his hearing, while government officials have come under scrutiny. A junior minister of foreign affairs, Shashi Tharoor, was forced to resign because of his involvement with a consortium that won a bid for a team in his home state.
Others who seem closely linked to the league have so far stayed in power as the scandal has assumed political overtones. Mr. Pawar heads a regional political party that is part of the coalition government led by the Congress Party. As yet, investigators have not accused him of any wrongdoing.
And the country’s civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, has faced questions on whether he was involved in the bidding process for a new franchise and whether his ministry had showed favoritism to his daughter, a former model who helps coordinate the I.P.L.’s travel. In late April, the state-owned airline, Air India, canceled a scheduled flight, delaying passengers, so that Mr. Patel’s daughter and several I.P.L. players could use it as a paid charter.
Dhiraj Nayyar, a senior editor at The Financial Express, said the cricket scandal was best understood in the context of India’s economic evolution. When India’s stock exchange took off in the late 1980s and early 1990s, scandals erupted over market manipulation until regulatory structures were strengthened. Today, the same absence of transparency and regulation exists in cricket.
“The I.P.L. is a curious creature that combines the best and worst of Indian capitalism — fabulous enterprise and outcomes on the one side, riddled with cronyism, patronage and power politics on the other,” Mr. Nayyar wrote recently. “In many ways the I.P.L. is a confirmation of what India really is: an emerging economy.”