Summer of controversies

April 21st, 2010

The IPL scam, Sebi-Irda spat… we are all set to have an interesting summer. Let me add my two bit.

Even if some ‘sweat equity’ was given to Ms Pushkar (if the allegations are correct), courtesy Mr Tharoor… does it really matter? Come’ on guys there is enough muck in the system. Here, politicians’ children and family members benefit just because their parents travel in a car with a ‘batti’ at the top (many times, it’s not even the child’s fault).

Coming from Bihar, I have heard this line several times. ‘Arre e to falanwa ka beta/bitiya hain’ (oh, he/she is ‘this person’s’ son or daughter). The rest follows…

Yes, if the government wants to fix the IPL, let’s go ahead and do that. And it’s because there are too many smokescreens in the IPL system.

Newspaper reports claim that crores were spent on post-match parties, clauses were inserted in contracts that models had to mingle with the guests, caps on earnings of junior players were introduced in days – Yes, it has become one crazy ride.

And then there is Lalit Modi.Though Jagmohan Dalmiya was blamed for commercialisation of cricket, he did it quietly. Modi, on the contrary, has turned cricket into comedy, that too, with a swagger.

Administrators, in my view, cannot even be seen to be siding with anyone (even if they are). No wonder, many of them are boring personalities because they need to make important decisions, and dispassionately.

So, a lot of people should thank Tharoor. He has suddenly given them a stick… a real big stick… to beat up both IPL and the cricket establishment that has eluded them for all these years.

Whether things will change or not, I don’t know or care. But this is one controversy that I will watch for sheer entertainment – just like the IPL.

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When Chandhrashekhar Bhave, the Sebi chairman, banned 14 insurance companies from accepting fresh premiums on unit-linked insurance plans (Ulips), he surprised many of us.

Most so-called experts were not expecting this. The argument: The insurance lobby is too strong for Sebi to do anything. Well, smart guys, the matter has gone to the court.

Whether Sebi gets control, Irda continues to have control or there is a dual control really does not matter. By simply taking up the matter in a big way, Sebi has made it front page news.

Importantly, a lot of customers are now asking questions. Almost a year back, a Business Standard reporter tried to buy a simple term policy from an insurance company. However, everyone tried to sell him an Ulip. Being a young chap with no dependents, he just needed a cheap policy. But everyone advised him to buy something that was 5 or 10 times more expensive with the lure of ‘wealth creation’.

The outcome of this case certainly interests me, but for a different reason. More controversy means more information for consumers. And Sebi’s step has achieved exactly that.

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