Wednesday, 24 March 2010

IPL fever

Madingley Hall in Cambridge, where I attended the course "Teaching the teachers to teach", is an example of medieval opulence. Built in the 16th century, it was rented to the Prince of Wales in the 19th century when the young man attended University in Cambridge.

It was a historic setting, with the carved doors, designed ceilings, painted glass windows and wall size paintings, for our non medical, non powerpoint presentations, which ranged from juggling, judo, wonderwoman, rifle shooting and chicken curry to how to declutter your house and what to look for while buying a pram. These were meant to break the ice between participants, who varied from the junior most to the senior most in the NHS heirarchy.

Having been witness to the IPL fever on Indian and English news channels, it came as no surprise when one of the Indian consultants stood up to present-"Why is IPL so successful?"

It must have had an impact, because later on, a white British girl while toying with ideas of what she could learn from her male Indian anaesthetist colleague in a 5 minute teaching session, decided on "rules of cricket." I must admit that ketamine did figure in her list of things to learn from Indians, but cricket got the thumbs up.

IPL is to India and the Indian media, what football used to be, to the British. I say used to be, because now the contrasting news on BBC is usually about how much in debt the football clubs are and how many are going bust. It is being revealed now that players have been paid more than what has been collected in revenues and the big bucks which made the football players, heroes and role models for youngsters, are losing a few zeroes.

The excitement on the ground in India, though,with the bright coloured teams (yellow superkings, purple knights, blue royals), glamourous owners (a coming together of the two most watched- cricket and Bollywood) and sexy cheerleaders, is just catching. In Lalit Modi's own words- "There is no recession in IPL."

Corporates ensure the flow of big money. The corporates are taking over everything- hospitals, movies, sports, education and the media (Rann, the movie was a fantastic take on that). But then big money seems to get bigger and bigger for the chosen few, in the nexus of politicians and industrialists. For instance, Tony Blair earned 12 million pounds after he stopped being Prime Minister, 6 times more than what he had earned before. Banks seem to pay big bonuses (20% of taxpayer's money which was provided as a bailout to failing banks) no matter what. Their policy has been called "Heads I win, Tails you lose". The crores which emerge after being tucked away in politicians cupboards in Jharkhand make democracy a joke and the value of money, a concern.

Money started by being such that you could redeem an equivalent of gold or silver but gradually over the years, countries did away with any equivalence in gold reserves and then it came to the stage where the US dollar became the "gold standard".  China with its mounting dollar reserves, watched in dismay, as the dollar threatened to sink like a concrete slab in the Thames, at the height of the crisis. But try as you might, with the world so connected, it is not easy to disentangle oneself from the mess created by unregulated capitalism.

Mohammad Yunus, the founder of the Microfinancing bank in Bangladesh, who won the Nobel Peace prize (well deserved, unlike others) was asked after the banking crises about whether the Grameen Bank would be affected. He said, very refreshingly that our loans are based on real assets like goats, cows and land, not on virtual instruments, like in the corporate banks.

IPL meanwhile is raking in the moolah- merchandise, matches, theatre screenings, TV rights....... Lets watch Brett Lee bowl, Priety Zinta cheer, Shilpa Shetty pout, Shahrukh Khan stammer and May the best team win!


Balakrishnan said...

Nice blog Nilanjana! I must admit the IPL is quite fun, with all its glitz and glamour. But quiet frankly, I've never been a fan of Cricket. Like my father-in-law says "12 fools are playing and 12 million fools are watching"!! I prefer tennis. But there, the players have to work 10 times as hard, but get paid 10 times less!!


brightspark said...

Thanks Vidya! I think the money you earn in sport depends on which country you are playing in and at what level. Cant imagine cricketers being paid more in USA than tennis players...

Ashishnama said...

A very good article. Regards

Saras said...

IPL frenzy is real. But an interesting observation- it is also becoming a matter of pride to have gone to a match. Status ke liye kuchh bhi karenge yaar, even if we have never followed the game before.

brightspark said...

I didnt know that, Saras...well if Bollywood badshahs and queens are going to be in the stands, minglling with Ambanis and Mallyas, naturally it must become "in".

LP K said...

Hi Nilanjana, IPL fever is very much here at home. At least last only a few hours. The matches are entertaining. Gives younsters an chance to show their prowess. Anything that entertains should be good- no?