“Except for a few influential BCCI officials and television executives, nobody knows what transpired during the hectic negotiations that led to Nimbus bagging the home television rights in 2006, and Sony walking away with the rights to telecast the IPL. The selectors were gagged early last year, and that, proved lethal to whatever little ‘transparency’ there was in team selection. And the less said about the recent elections the better: a day after the new office-bearers announced the country's first paid selection panel, one of the five new selectors had yet to be officially informed about his appointment.”
-Ajay S. Shankar, Cricinfo
BCCI currently has the highest income of any national board. Its revenue (not profit):
- 2006-07 - Rs 651.81 crore
- 2007-08 - Rs 1000.41 crore
- 2008-2009 - Rs 726 crore
- 2010-11 - Rs 868 crore
The aforementioned BCCI, Board of Control for Cricket in India, is the governing body, responsible for administration of all Cricket related activities in the country ranging from the selection process, training, organisation of competitions and arrangement of funds from the sponsors. Noteworthy here is the fact that BCCI, being a non government body, does not receive any grants from the government.
This organization which deals in cartloads of money every year and is responsible for the selection of players which represent the whole country, does not come under the RTI act. In other words, it is not required to make its balance sheets and selection process public. People have since long questioned this, and now it has turned into a full fledged battle. Well here, the two battling sides are the BCCI and the Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken, both resolute in their stand over the National Sports Development Bill. And as the temptation to cliché says, it’s the mute Indian spectator, standing blindfolded at the crossroads, unstinting in its trust and yet so democratic in its outlook, waiting for other people to tell him what side to take.
It all started when the Union sports minister Ajay Maken tabled the National Sports Development Bill in the Parliament, in an effort to control money laundering in sports, primarily, by making the financial transactions of cash rich sports organizations such as the BCCI, more transparent and accountable by bringing them under the purview of the RTI Act .
Maken insists that the government does not want to curb the autonomy of sports federations with the proposed bill, and they would not be pressurized to include lawmakers into their management. The mooted Bill, instead, aims to reserve at least 25 percent posts for former players in respective federations and not non-players who manage to sneak in wielding money power.
But we have the flip side of the coin, BCCI’s stand on the Bill, clearly stated in BCCI VP, Rajiv Shukla’s words “The BCCI would oppose any such bill from the government, given that the BCCI does not take any grant from the government, it should not come under the government’s purview.”
So, where does this battle really lead us? In this grim situation where the BCCI is blamed of having flexed its financial muscle to get through with some of its “agendas” on the international cricket front, while failing to have produced a competent batting line up; are we doing the right thing by pulling the BCCI in the government ambit? Is it fair for a country of diehard cricket fanatics to live in doubt whether the gross amount of money earned from the game of cricket is going into the game itself? Is it justified that the working and decisions of such a mammoth organization in the country be unaccounted for? In fact, isn’t transparency a must, at every level of its working, so that we don’t live in the dark about the sport that many of us call our RELIGION?
While all these seem very significant questions leading one to think that BCCI must definitely function under the RTI, there is another, and a more not-so-obvious side to the argument. Given the above facts, it is clear that the Bill shall give the government the authority to have a say in most of the decisions of BCCI. In the extreme case, it is also potent enough to allow the government to manoeuvre the sport and its organization the way it wants. So, the million dollar question here is: Could this much hyped Bill simply be a let down, a mere illusion of progress, just a silhouette with no substance to it? Or is it really going to have an effect on the Organization, Government and the people of the country concerned. Unfortunately, this might be equivalent to dragging the sports community in India, into the swamp of mediocrity .
Even though all this leaves the future of this celebrated organization, shrouded in uncertainty, what we can most certainly be sure of is the fact that this Bill (irrespective of it being passed or not) will bring about a radical change in the face of Indian Cricket, and give a whole new dimension to the Right To Information Act. Now it is for us to exercise our opinion, push the government for what we want, or just lie back and hope whatever happens, happens for the best.