Samir Chopra February 24, 2010

Modi's sensible plainspeak

There are other reasons why Modi's comments make sense for they raise an interesting point about the very nature of the IPL, about whether it is a domestic tournament or an international league

"Just like even a broken clock can tell the time correctly twice a day, even Lalit Modi can get it right at times" © Getty Images

I'm not a huge fan of Lalit Modi. One reason why I am reluctant to watch IPL games is there is always the chance that I might stumble across the latest Modi photo-op; I have described him as a zamindar in the past (when his ICL crackdown was in full swing); and when Modi acolytes have shown up on Eye-on-Cricket and demanded I respect his organisational skills and financial acumen, I have politely declined (I similarly find myself reluctant to sing hosannas in praise of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, gentlemen who have plenty of fans but whose achievements I find strangely uninspiring).

But respect must be shown where it is due. Just like even a broken clock can tell the time correctly twice a day, even Lalit Modi can get it right at times. And Modi's response to the release of the independent report commissioned by players' unions in England, Australia and South Africa that has led to talk of shifting the 2010 IPL to another country is a good example of that.

First, Modi correctly notes that "Nobody in the world can safeguard the safety of the players in any tournament. All we have to do is ensure we are putting on the best security". Indeed, there might be disagreements over what constitutes the best security for the visiting players but there can be no guarantees about the player's ultimate safety (perhaps El Al, the Israeli airline, might be able to provide one but I doubt even those formidable folks would go so far). And while the 'threat' to the international players is possibly 'credible', all that can be done is to hunker down and make sure that as many angles as possible are covered. Fleeing to another country isn't really a viable solution. Last year's move to South Africa took place because no security apparatus could be in place.

The IPL's staying put is just the way it has to be for anything else that has to take place in India (plenty of folks continue to go to work in Mumbai, I'm told). If terrorists were to issue kidnap threats against businessmen in India, should business come to a grinding halt?

But there are other reasons why Modi's comments make sense for they raise an interesting point about the very nature of the IPL, about whether it is a domestic tournament or an international league. For Modi goes on to say (showing a non-Vitalstatistix-like personality), "The heavens aren't going to fall...this is an Indian tournament...we have the key Indian players and only a few international players. You have to understand that the market for us is's not only dependent on foreign players, although they are part of it."

Modi is calling his own bluff here. If the IPL goes ahead and is a success even with a diminished international player presence (and truth be told, I think there is a high probability there won't be a complete pullout because the greenback rules), it will have displayed its viability in an Indian market with Indian players and maintained the domestic competition image.

For now, Modi has done all he could do. He has spoken reassuringly to sponsors and has done the right kind of spinning when it comes to the status of the IPL. Behind the scenes, negotiations over the player's security demands will carry on.

The IPL will be played in India. If something does go wrong, there will be terrible consequence, sure. But the worst ones will not be that international players' concerns will have been vindicated. It will be that innocent lives will have been lost. And that is a risk that folks in India are used to.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on August 2, 2012, 4:47 GMT

    A tournament with out paatkisn was going to be dull as expected specially for us paatkisnis ..forget all the mess of PCB ..dont u guys miss the paki unpredictability factor .Although they are champs right now .the can beat a team of champions cricketers on any given day they play to their potential .thanks to Jrod .for atleast remembering to mention pak his articles ..salute to australian teams for Beating indian teams on their own HOME GROUNDS ..they cant even think of matching aussies on their home grounds ..

  • testli5504537 on March 12, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Response to Raj's post on Feb.24th. Most of the current cricketers(foreign or not) are lap-dogs!! They voice their concerns re. safety but will conveniently brush those fears aside if the pay is enticing enough. And let's face it, quite a few are in the twilight of their careers and can never hope to accumulate the kind of money the IPL provides. Greed is the same regardless of their nationality.

  • testli5504537 on February 28, 2010, 16:22 GMT

    There is no need to panic. What is to be happened.It will happen.In 21 st century What india will dictate terms atleast in cricket, economy & software.Dear all, today's young men were not there to support against goras before 1947.Atleast now there is a chance to dictate terms against these people.Just give something back boys and enjoy.

  • testli5504537 on February 28, 2010, 6:04 GMT

    I think the IPL has no future. Forget the rest of the world, even among the young people in India, the English Premier League football is much more popular than the IPL. So the future of IPL is doomed.

  • testli5504537 on February 27, 2010, 0:13 GMT

    Folks, lets remember why IPL went to S Africa. There were general elections in India and the law and order authorities could not guarantee security for two mega events simultaneously. That’s not the case this time so we must place some faith in the governance in India. I live in the US and, like many of you, invest in Indian capital markets. Don’t tell me I should run away with my money since the word of Indian authorities is meaningless. Let’s relax and enjoy the IPL the way it belongs—in India.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    Still, it will be humongous tragedy if a terrorist bomb does go off. Man, life is full of uncertainties! Dear Terrorists, kindly stay away and take care of your own children and families.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    BE Aware!Another way to make momney from Indians, first Autralia failed to provide security to Indian students snd immigrants-can he proide secuirty to Indian players, South African British origin citizens leaving back to Canada and England(back to home) for safety due to safety reasons (since power has been transferred to non-whites)so how Indian players will be safe and secure in South Africa. England home grown terrorism-- how they will proide secuirty assurance to Indian IPL players in England, I am scared to stay in England as a traveller-- air lines I can not trust flying to UK are safe -how thousands of Indians can take risk to go UK to enjoy IPL. In stead a few number of players can take risk at Indian Playfields in liu of Millions of dollars--which is worth for them--but not for a cricket fan to go to these contries under risk of terrorism and criminals waiting to kill and robb them. Buisness should stay in India--broadcasting rights, ticket sales, airline profits and economy

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    dude, you have written this article like a buggy program. Quit blogging, just stick to coding. You are a classic example why a coder should not blog. and please stop reading chetan bhagat.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    what the fuss cricketers all ove rthe world wants indian ruppee with sureties and body guards but there arte thousands of these foriners working in the contry at different levels, did they ask for protection before applying for the jobs??? get real and not greedy

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    Is'nt it very "Indian" to pull down our heroes. That's what it is with you Samir. If you were Modi and had to read this article you would have said to yourself " This guy does'nt like my success ". It is the same with Ricky Ponting. It has been the biggest ego blow for him when he was'nt bought for the magical 1 million $s, and when KKR were'nt too gung ho about him in the playing eleven he is doing what he is best at - subterfuge. But as samir has rightly mentioned the Greenbacks rule and every Aussie contracted will come here and play and every aussie player's success in IPL-3 will be a slap on Punters face. I never beleived he was any kind of competition to Sachin as the best player in the world, he is no where near him as a decent human being either.

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