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Prasoon S Majumdar
Editor, Economic Affairs - The Sunday Indian
Dean Academics (All India), The Indian Institute of Planning and Management

No ‘Silly Point’

IPL comes as an opportunity, so needs to be aptly secured...

Come April 10, Indian television will witness, for the second consecutive year, a 45 days full of frenzied entertainment, competitive cricket and serious business. These 45 days will give Indian audience a treat of watching 189 Indian cricketers and 80 international cricket stars playing almost 59 matches and slogging out for grabbing prize money worth at least Rs 12 crore. In fact, more than Rs. 2,000 crore is expected to be invested directly in the whole series, beside individual team-owners’ investments. No doubt, in times of economic slowdown, IPL can not just boost the game but can also contribute to the Indian economy at large.

However, this whole dream around IPL can fall like a pack of cards, given the overall security environment. Given the turmoil around India, be it in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka - IPL season II cannot be kept isolated of it. The recent such attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan is echoing the need for more protection against terror attacks. With increasing terrorism and illegal infiltration in India, the whole of IPL season II needs some extra care. Care with respect to internal security, external security and seamless coordination between various security agencies within the country. Any lapse would mean a direct loss of Rs 2,000 crore to IPL franchisees. Additionally Rs 300 crore can be lost in TV ad sales, Rs 100 crore on ticket sales and Rs 400 crore damages to IPL itself at the minimum. The whole security dilemma has forced the IPL stakeholders to take help of insurance cover and private security agencies, for the first time. However, when it comes to security and role of state police in safeguarding the whole event ranging from stadium to players to audience, their arrangements currently don't seem adequate at all. It is not just about how effective our police is but about how equipped they are, given the fact that modern day terrorists use highly sophisticated and state-of-art weapons and technology. When it comes to expenditure on police modernisation, the whole security aspect seems even more alarming. Around 44 per cent of the funds released by the Union government for the modernisation of police forces have remained unspent. Out of the total allocation for modernisation of police force in 2007-08, around Rs 1,248.7 crore was never used. Chhattisgarh (Maoist prone region) spent only 14 per cent of the allocation while Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi returned almost Rs 20 crore, Rs 18 crore, Rs 15 crore and jaw dropping Rs 60 crore respectively. Supporting the same, CAG came out with its own audit that speaks volumes about the unspent money meant for modernisation of police force. Police modernisation is just not imperative for IPL alone or other major sporting events to come, but for safeguarding the entire economy at large.

Police modernisation would be a win-win situation for all ranging from IPL to Police force itself. To reiterate my argument, I would just like to remind that the Commonwealth is also round the corner. If we pull off this season of IPL effectively, it would act as positive ripple effect and may bring in more money in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Let the Indian government, for once, show the world that in spite of the fallacious hyphenation of India being surrounded by negative externalities, India as a nation can live in peace, no matter how its neighbours are. And there cannot be any other opportune moment than IPL, for here we are not just talking about big monies but also about bigger pride!!!


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