India news August 31, 2011

Indian sports minister hits back at BCCI

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ajay Maken, the Indian sports minister, has slammed the BCCI for its stand against the transparency-enhancing Right to Information (RTI) Act and the proposed bill to regulate Indian sports bodies. The bill, which could cover the BCCI too, was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday but failed to gain approval and will now be re-worked.

One of the main reasons the Indian board has given for staying out of the ambit of the RTI, which opens up to public questioning the institutions covered by it, is that the BCCI doesn't rely on government money. "The BCCI is a non-governmental organisation, which has its own constitution and generates its own funds," the BCCI president Shashank Manohar told the Times of India. "In fact, there are two orders passed by the country's Chief Information Commissioner wherein it has been clearly stated that the RTI Act doesn't apply to the BCCI."

Maken, though, countered by saying that the BCCI indirectly received government funds. "How about the tax exemptions?" Maken asked. "How about the land they get? How much did they pay for the Feroz Shah Kotla? We are not asking them to reveal anything to the government. We are asking them to be accountable to the people. "

Another recommendation in the bill is that people over 70 years of age should be barred from heading sporting federations. "I wonder why the proposed age-cap is 70, not 65 or 60?" Manohar said. "And what has age got to do with administration as long as the person concerned is in good health?"

Maken defended the introduction of an age limit. "What is their problem with age limit? Doesn't the judiciary, the bureacracy have age limits? Why can't a good example be followed? If someone remains a federation chief for ever why will vested interests not develop."

The proposed bill also called for the inclusion of former players in cricket administration. "I can only speak for the BCCI which has its own constitution and office-bearers are elected democratically by state associations and other affiliated units," Manohar said.

"We have former players like Anil Kumble, Shivlal Yadav and Mohinder Pandove holding key positions in their respective associations as well as in the BCCI after they were duly elected to their respective posts. In BCCI, we only involve former players to deal with cricket-specific issues like selection, technical matters, coaching, mentoring etc, leaving the administrative issues to elected representatives.

"All said and done, cricket is the best administered sport in the country. It is not as if the BCCI is a closed-door body. It submits its annual audited accounts to the Registrar of Societies after the same is duly circulated and vetted by its member associations."

At the ICC annual conference in Hong Kong earlier this year, the ICC gave its member boards a two-year deadline to democratise in an effort to reduce government interference in cricket administration. Manohar cautioned against the possibility of government involvement in this matter as well. "The ICC has recently amended its constitution and empowered itself to take action against Member boards in case of undue government interference in functional matters."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    Only players who have played test matches or first class games should be part of managing cricket, that is controlling/governing cricket in all parts of the world. I don't understand why Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh and others who have never played a first class game are part of Indian cricket. Politicians do not make cricket better, rather they ruin the game. ICC should set rules so that people who have played test matches or certain number of first class cricket be allowed to contest election to hold a post in managing cricket. People like Kapil Dev, Shastry, Gavasker, Patil , Amarnath and others should be part of management of Indian Cricket. BCCI should not be given any tax exemption.

  • Shyam on September 2, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    Ideally BCCI must be filled with ex-cricketers. The presence of Politicians in BCCI will be detrimental for Cricket. People like Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, Amarnath, Ganguly must be at the helm in BCCI. This will benefit Indian Cricket. In the present scenario, where politicians run BCCI, it must come under the ambit of RTI and the sports ministry. It is ironic that there is no retirement age for Politics in India and it is filled with whitened old stubborn minds. People who have not played cricket at the international level must have no place in BCCI.

  • JAYARAMAN on September 1, 2011, 6:20 GMT

    Several criticisms of BCCI are valid. But the point sorely missed, either intentionally or otherwise, are the powers to be taken by Government to decide which sports body will be recognished by it etc. That is a direct control of the sports bodoes by the Govt. The way recent Gommonwealth games was organised, better, government never comes into the picture by giving direct doles to associations. Other provisions of the bill are not known and and if the foregoing is an example, then definitely Ajay Maken's proposals are fit to tbe thrown out. All sports bodies have to be recognished by international federations of respective sports bodies and govts. have nothing to do with this. Some provisions of the bill selectively leaked by the minister are worthwhile implementing. However RTI should not help in various people to file unnecessary law suits wasting time of the courts, parties involved etc.

  • g on September 1, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    important question: btw, who gave authority to BCCI to control cricket in india? if BCCI is a private body why should it be the only body to control entire nation's cricket? can someone please file a PIL please!!!!

  • g on September 1, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    Those who argue in favor of BCCI, why should BCCI be given the privilege to use country's name is if it is just a private org? What privilege does BCCI have to suppress other leagues if they are just a private league? If someone has to run cricket it India why should it be BCCI? there are many other businessmen/administrators who can do the same...just allow them to use India's grounds and infrastructure!

  • g on September 1, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    @SumanKaushik, who are you kidding! well if you are running ur club, then u should have bought the land and the building and have been paying full taxes on all your revenues. BCCI didnt pay for the grounds (land and building) and have been claiming tax benefits which are huge in amount. Moreover your club will be known as your club and not as the one that the country represents! How may people would watch ur club game vs if the team was supposedly representing a country? Why all this, just the change the team name to BCCI India and see what happens to the revenues. If BCCI have enough guts they should call their team as BCCI and not as India. You can't get milage out of a country's name but be indifferent when it comes to accountability.

  • Kavin on September 1, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    @ SumanKaushik - Because its the public and fans that brings sponsors and money for BCCI, not the players. If there wil be no fans, no viewers, no interest, than there will be nothing left, just like other sports bodies in India. (Ahem Ahem! Hockey, Athletics, and other sports.) If they own cricket in India, ask them to get the crowd in and sponsors in Ranji Trophy matches in India LOL. Its the fans and viewers that brings money, and they should have their say in this as well. How can a person select a cricket team who never played the game and has to practical experience of how the game is played in the ground? This is ridiculous.

  • Kavin on September 1, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    Yes, if BCCI is an independent entity, they how the heck they own the "Nation Cricket Team" of this country? Take the "Indian Team" tag out of BCCI and let them do what they want, and then see how it falls down. Its the crazy 1.2 billion indian cricket fans and viewers who get the sponsors and money for BCCI, not the Players. India is a democracy and the people have the right to have their say in team selection to how the money is manipulated in this so called BCCI.

  • Suman on August 31, 2011, 23:47 GMT

    BCCI does not own indian team. It's an organization which is affiliated to ICC and hence fields a team which is of national stature in ICC events. I think BCCI, unlike other indian sports bodies, has somehow been quite successful in promoting cricket in India and made cricket a viable profession. I dont see anything wrong with that. Now the govt wants to turn the screws on an independent successful body and I personally think its a recipe for disaster. Other sporting organizations should emulate on how BCCI has managed to do so . There may be wrongdoings but that should be addressed within the body itself or by existing govt laws. Govt should make tax laws comprehensive so that BCCI cannot get undue benefits. But why RTI. RTI is for govt bodies which receive govt grants. If I manage to launch a club and turn it into a cash cow within the rules , why should public get access to my financials.

  • Nikhil on August 31, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    Simple. Cut the tax exemptions since they are a private entity. Also cut all freebies. Outside of that, if they are publicly held corporation, they need to follow laws of disclosure. If the BCCI is privately held, then they are within their rights to control what is put in the public record.

    With regard to age, rather than age, it should be term limits. And in that case, the issue of who owns the organization and what kind of an organization it is still applies.

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