‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

Population of Uttar Pradesh: 166 million; No of teams in the Indian Premier League: 0

Population of Maharashtra: 97 million; No of IPL teams: 2

Population of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh: 1/3rd of India’s; No of IPL teams: 0

Population of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala: 1/4th of India’s; No of IPL teams: 4

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The cricket writer and historian Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“This maldistribution of IPL franchises undermines its claim to be ‘Indian’, and is in defiance of sporting history and achievement as well. The truth is that citizenship and cricket have been comprehensively trumped by the claims of commerce….

“The Indian Premier League may be more appropriately renamed the League of Privileged Indians. For this tournament both reflects and further intensifies a deep divide between the India of wealth and entitlement and the India—or Bharat—of poverty and disenfranchisement….

“The promoters of the IPL claim to be speaking on behalf of Indian cricket. However, the polarizing instincts of their tournament run counter to—and threaten to defeat—the inclusive and democratizing trends that were inaugurated by the victory of the Indian cricket team in the 1983 World Cup and the boom in satellite television that followed….

“Whether by chance or design, the IPL shall establish a new hierarchy between the centres and cities it favours and those that it doesn’t, a hierarchy that has all to do with economic privilege and nothing to do with sport…. To be sure, the IPL has not created or constructed these inequalities—but it has certainly confirmed and consolidated them.”

Read the full article: The party of privilege

Photograph: courtesy Businessweek