Democracy is the need of the hour in our beloved BCCI
Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Akash SinglaÂ Follow @rationalcritic1 With the recent indictment of those running for the BCCI, it can be deducted that the BCCI was being run unprofessionally and unethically. The current management structure and processes are highly undemocratic and unaccountable. There is a need for efficient management of the board. In a recent judgement the Supreme Court noted, that the game should work entirely in the interest of its audience and fans. The judgement notes, â€śThere is no manner of doubt whatsoever that the game enjoys its popularity and raises passions only because of what it stands for and because the people who watch the sport believe that it is being played in the true spirit of the game without letting any corrupting influence come anywhere near the principles and fundamental imperatives considered sacrosanct and inviolableâ€ť Here the Supreme Court has given utmost importance of the interest of the people who watch the game. The game exists only for them, and once these people lose interest, the game dies. The question, how the BCCI should be managed, can be answered by always keeping in mind that the desired management must keep in mind the interest of the people and fans alone. BCCI should not run according to the whims and fancies of the officials who are accountable to nobody but themselves; but only according to how people want it to be run The current management structure does not have any say of the fans. No matter how much the fans wanted Srinivasan to go, he would have stayed if the Supreme court had not intervened. No one knows how the officials of the state bodies are selected. As a cricket fan, everyone should have some say in the working of their game. The cricketers play for a nation, use countryâ€™s name, earn money, fame and good wishes; all because they represent their country. But citizens donâ€™t even have any say in how their officials are managed. There is just no accountability. How can accountability be improved? How can peopleâ€™s involvement improve? There can be a few ideas for managing BCCI and ensuring accountability. I will focus on two of them First can be letting the central government manage the BCCI. Positives of this approach can be 1. The central government carries the mandate of people. It has got the legitimacy to manage how it wants to run the game 2. In its manifesto, parties can come up with how they want to run our sports bodies and voters can make informed choices on the basis of that 3. Sports bodies management can be questioned in the parliament. This will increase the accountability. Even CAG can audit their finances. 4. Central government can lead to equitable development of cricket. Even states with less funds, but large population like Uttar Pradesh will be benefitted However this approach can also lead to many issues, like 1. The government will be overburdened. Parliament, CAG etc are already overburdened. 2. Sports bodies will attract greedy politicians. They will also not have the expertise to run these bodies. Imagine either Arun Jaitley will try to run BCCI ( thus having less time for Finance ministry) or we might have novices to run the sports body (not that Arun Jaitley ran DDCA well) 3. When parties come up with a manifesto for elections; running the sports bodies surely will not be the main agenda on which voting will take place. So the mandate they get will be for something else (development, sops etc) but not for running the BCCIThus it can be argued that it will not be a very good approach to run the BCCI. Second idea may sound impractical or even absurd is to hold special elections for running of the sports bodies. This idea sounds unreasonable. It gives rise to a lot of questions like, who all will vote, who will pay for the elections, how to ensure accountability etc. But before elections, it is important to know the desired management structure, and the processes of the board. Only then people will be able to vote for them. It is important to delineate who all the people will vote for? How will these people run the board? People should vote for â€śBoard of directorsâ€ť for the board. BCCI should be run by the â€śboard of directorsâ€ť These directors should have some qualifications. For e.g. 1. Number of years in administration of sports bodies 2. Any experience at first class cricket 3. No criminal cases against the person 4. Never been convicted for corruption etcThese directors should be responsible for selecting the CEO, management, other officials etc. They should be given powers to run the board like a corporate entity Accounts of the board should be audited by at least two independent credible auditors preferably from big four. This will ensure financial audit. It is also important to lay down the vision and mission for the board so it runs according to these principles. Vision and mission both should take care of probity, interest of the fans and fairness in how the game is run Coming to how actual elections will take place. Who all will vote in these elections? The idea is to ensure more accountability in running of the BCCI. This can come by ensuring maximum number of people who are interested in cricket and who care for the game are involved in these elections. First step is preparing electoral rolls. All the fans should be able to register with the BCCI, with their Aadhar number. Since Aadhar number can work in identifying duplicate registrations and also ensures that person is verified by the government. Once people are registered they automatically come in electoral rolls. Next people should get multiple options for the mode of voting in annual voting. They should be able to vote in person, my mail, by internet, by proxy etc. Conducting elections can be outsourced to an independent body headed by a retired election commissioner. Or the elections can also be outsourced to a consortium of independent private bodies conducting opinion polls. May be a consortium of â€śTodayâ€™s Chanakya, AC Nielsen etcâ€ť. But how will the expenses of this election be borne? Every member will be required to submit an annual fees of Rs 100. This will get that person the right to vote in the elections ( 2014 General elections cost around 45 Rs per voter to take place). Or BCCI can also set some amount for conducting these elections. But I would still argue for continuance of annual fees as it leads to sense of association with the board. Also a minimum fees will ensure only genuine fans who are interested in the game register every year But from whom will people chose the board of directors? How will they make an informed choice? Before elections every registered member can be sent material on the eligible candidates for the â€śboard of directorsâ€ť so people can make informed choice. However this must subject to some restrictions, otherwise more wealthy people will be able to present their views better. Or BCCI itself can send material to the voters with equal space given to all candidates. Another point is â€śProportional system of representationâ€ť for voting should be used as it will take into account views of all sections. It is also generally helpful in selection of multiple number of people (as in selection of Rajya Sabha members from a state). First past the post may give unintended advantage to a particular group. For e.g. people of Uttar Pradesh wanting out of favour Praveen Kumar and RP Singh to become part of board of directors :P There are many positives to this approach 1. It will ensure that the board is run professionally. Board of directors will be elected every year by the people. They will have to perform well to ensure that they are selected again 2. Independent auditors will make sure financial irregularities do not take place 3. Unknown identities suddenly do not come to rule your favourite game (I still donâ€™t know how Sundar Raman came to rule IPL) 4. Board of governors will go for equitable development of cricket, as they would want votes from maximum people. Only urban centers such as Mumbai, Delhi etc will not get preference for funds, matches and facilities 5. People will actually get a say in how they want the game to run. People who feel restless every day and crib about how they wish the board was run better; would get a chance to actually contribute in its runningAlthough some apprehensions about its running still remain, such as 1. These elections will be hijacked by politicians and vested interests again. People might not even get appropriate choices to vote for. 2. In absence of election commission there might be rigging, and the process of election will become a farceApprehensions are genuine and must be taken into account before designing the solution for overhaul of the BCCI. However the purpose of this article is to evoke a thought, and look at an alternate method of managing the board. More debate must take place for democratisation of the board. If we are serious about how our favourite game is run, we must lobby hard, put pressure on government, so ultimately democracy can be brought in the board Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. 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