AR Rahman is a music genius involved in many aspects of his art, ranging from singing, composing, directing, producing, etc. His extraordinary talent has been recognised worldwide and has won him many national and international awards including Padma Bhushan, Grammy, Golden Globe, Academy Award, et al.
Rahman also runs a music conservatory, which is a college for musicians and when a friend said his son was being trained there I asked him if the maestro was not hit by a conflict of interest.
The friend gave me a strange look as if to suggest I was off my rocker and I had to quickly explain that had Rahman been a top Indian cricketer and active in the set up he would have been accused of conflict of interest as per Lodha reforms and would have had to give up some of his activities.
I explained that as per reforms to BCCI ‘...no individual may occupy more than one of the following posts at a single point of time:
(a) Player (Current)
(b) Selector / Member of Cricket Committee
(c) Team Official
(e) Match Official
(f) Administrator / Office-Bearer
(g) Electoral Officer
(h) Ombudsman & Ethics Officer
(j) Any person who is in governance, management or employment of a Franchisee
(k) Member of a Standing Committee
(l) CEO & Managers
(m) Office Bearer of a Member
(n) Service Provider (Legal, Financial, etc.)
(o) Contractual entity (Broadcast, Security, Contractor, etc.)
(p) Owner of a Cricket Academy’ and that Rahman the maestro, would be deemed to be equated with clauses a, b, c, d, e, f, j, l, n and p of BCCI’s regulations and would hence have to quit training budding musicians.
“So who should Rahman train instead? Footballers?” the friend asked rhetorically.
Actually this conflict of interest charge seems to be an anomaly peculiar to Indian cricket. Ricky Ponting, the former Australian skipper, has no such problem. He coaches Australia, Delhi Capitals and is also a commentator. He relishes all three roles without anyone even hinting at any conflict of interest.
On the other hand, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have all been hit by conflict charges in recent times and considering that Ponting and a whole lot of other international players are freely raking in mega bucks and at the same time doing yeoman service to their country, it seems odd that this rule applies only to Indians.
It is nobody’s argument that Dravid has to be permitted to simultaneously draw two salaries, from BCCI for his job as National Cricket Academy Head of Cricket and Indian Cements, his long-time employers. But there are many aspects of the conflict of interest rule that needs to be seriously re-looked, else we may well have to settle for many lesser folks for key posts of – selector, coach, administrator, etc.
The deck, currently, is stacked against former cricketers, although the Lodha reforms kept harping on getting cricketers into running the game. Most of the better-known cricketers feel that accepting a role within BCCI or state cricket administration will seriously curb their revenue-generating opportunities, which in any case last for only very few years. They believe there is money to be made as television commentators, consultants to player-agencies, big corporates and IPL franchises.
And they are not wrong. It is just that BCCI’s reforms is not in tune with current scenarios, where an AR Rahman, school teachers (school, tuition, private lessons) and many others can and do operate legitimately.
However, Ganguly (president CAB, Delhi Capitals mentor, television commentator, Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) member); Laxman (TV commentator, SunRisers Hyderabad mentor, CAC); Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians Icon, TV Commentator, CAC) and many others were deemed to be in conflict of interest. They all quit CAC and may well have to soon forgo some other posts too.
Like the trio there are any number of cricketers and administrators who are in conflict of interest as per Lodha guidelines. Not surprisingly even the CoA has found some of these reforms unpalatable enough to state that he would approach the Supreme Court for clarification.
While the belief that over three dozen Indian commentators at domestic and international level could be hit by the conflict rule and thereby pave the way for foreign commentators is real, there are other serious issues in the offing for Indian cricket.
The elections to state associations are to be held next month but there is a growing realisation that unless the conflict rule is relaxed or changed altogether the administration of many state associations will be in the hands of novices or those of indeterminate ability at managing the complexities of cricket administration.
No two states has the same issues, owing to varying climate conditions, infrastructure, number of tournaments, heritage and legacy and talent available in terms of both players and administration. These will not only bewilder the novice but well render his administration inefficient.
Indian cricket has much to fear both in the near and distant future. Already there are huge doubts about the quality and impartiality of advice given to the reforms panel. The coming weeks could well lead to confusion and turmoil.