India’s prestigious Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) is about to end and there would very soon be a winner. Or perhaps, by the time this article reaches your eyes, it has already ended. However, even before the very first delivery was delivered, the winner as well as the loser for this year’s IPL season were decided. You didn’t have to watch the game to know that.
UAE won and India lost!!!
Covid-19 pandemic caused an economic downturn in almost every other country. Indian Premier League was India’s golden chance to kick-start the economy, get the ball rolling. But instead, we handed this opportunity over to the UAE. And of course, they made the best possible use of it. It feels as if we are a super rich country and don’t need any sidekicks to strengthen the economy. Don’t worry, I will come to the health and safety aspect of corona as well in a few minutes, but let me first paint the picture for you.
It was estimated that IPL will directly contribute between $20.5 to $25 million to the UAE economy. There would be eight teams travelling with large contingents comprising several hundred players, support staff, owners, and administrators. There would be resorts, hotels, catering, hospitality etc. And all this would be a source of revenue for the UAE. Also, VPS Healthcare, a UAE based company won the bid to conduct covid tests for the people related to IPL. It would be conducting more than 20,000 covid tests. There were many other companies that benefitted from IPL in the UAE.
Having said that, these are just the direct benefits that could be measured in numbers. However, there are intangible benefits as well. For starters, with Covid-19, UAE’s key sectors which include travel, tourism, hospitality and logistics took a nose dive. A tournament of international stature like IPL, instills confidence in the country right before the peak winter tourism season, which starts from November and goes on until April.
You must have already seen the fancy team rooms, recreation facilities etc. UAE would not need to invest a single penny in advertisement or marketing its unique selling points. Indians did the job quite well. You could have a look at some of the pictures that I got from a variety of sites, not related to any of the UAE authorities or resort owners, these were from sports sources, sites that talk only about sports, players etc. My point, UAE did not have to pay for publicity.
In one line, it gives a signal to an international traveler that UAE is safe to travel, and at the very same time it also gives a signal to the very same international traveler that India is not safe to travel.
Not only this, it also generates confidence among those looking to organize and attend mega-events in the future. I would not be surprised if UAE wins its bid to host Summer Olympics in 2024 and become the very first country in Middle East to host Olympics. But I would be really pissed, if I see a debate on an Indian News Channel in 2023/24 titled “why can’t we host an international tournament?” Some people have a short term memory loss and they tend to forget what happened some time ago. The thing is no country just gets a chance to host a big tournament right away, the country has to prove its mettle over a period of time. All these things add up.
Pakistan hosts its very own Pakistan Super League (PSL) in UAE. When in 2017, Pakistan tried to host PSL final in Lahore, they had to literally put Lahore on curfew. All this adds up in making Pakistan’s image as a dysfunctional state and a security nightmare. India is not Pakistan! India should have hosted the tournament in India. And it was possible.
I know what you are thinking, what about the health and safety due to coronavirus?
Why is it that Coronavirus will be threat only if a tournament is hosted in India?
England hosted its own games. Just a few days ago, Rafael Nadal won his thirteenth title. French Open was hosted in France, not UAE, and that too with audience. Have a look at the picture below, the court with the audience, that’s real audience, not visual effects. And the other picture is for the winning ceremony, again with the spectators, real people.
Hosting IPL in India this year would have been challenging, but it could have been done, but only if the authorities wanted it.
What was stopping us from creating bio-bubbles?
How are the politicians travelling across the country? You just witnessed an election, didn’t you? Somehow even Bihar was safe for elections. Not just in India, election process in the US continued the entire year. Nothing changed because of Corona. The elections were not cancelled. Were they?
Infact there are a variety of ways to even have audience in the stands without the possibility people contacting each other. Instead of the 100% capacity, have 30% capacity, new stands with physical partitions. The cost? Increase the ticket price. Do we have a dearth of rich cricket fans? Or do we have a dearth of human workers? Something is definitely better than nothing. Were there any whitepapers on this topic? No!
Some how unemployment is always an issue in the elections, but we don’t utilize the opportunities to provide new employment. Or it is just that the unemployment rant is limited to the government jobs, outside the public sector, there aren’t enough people available. Plus, coming up with a primitive setup at this point would have helped in the near future, not just for cricket but for all other sports where audience is nice to have in stands. I don’t see corona going anywhere anytime soon. What is the plan for the future sporting events? Planning to take everything to UAE?
Other countries are conducting their games, but India isn’t. Why?
Its all about the perception.
Unless, the lockdown was extended for the entire year, the number of coronavirus cases with or without IPL would have remained in the same ball park range. India would still have nine or ten million coronavirus cases, but IPL would have been hold accountable for those numbers. And no one, I mean literally no one would have been able to prove otherwise. The opposition parties and their supporters would have wrecked havoc in the country and would have made the downfall of the ruling government a possibility. In India, government can fall on Onion prices, fear of death is a way bigger and a way more powerful reason.
To be frank it is not a problem specific to the opposition in India. I mean if Rahul Gandhi and his party would start agreeing to BJP, their politics would end then and there. Even if you look at the politics in the US its the same. Joe Biden, called Trump Xenophobic when he imposed a lockdown, imposed travel restrictions for the people from China and Europe. But once he started lifting the restrictions, the same Joe Biden started complaining that Trump does not care about the people of the US, but cares about the money and that’s why is lifting the restrictions. Its quite similar to what Rahul Gandhi and his party has been doing in India. At first lockdown is not the solution and later, India is the only country that is lifting lockdown when the cases are increasing. He wants it both ways, he will continue counting the cases, creating fear and panic, creating conditions where the government will have to impose lockdowns to calm the people down and later he will complain about the falling GDP growth. Of course the growth would plummet if there is a lockdown.
But there is a major difference between the US and India. The voters; their numbers, their mindsets, their approach towards their respective countries and their voting behaviors and patterns. It is time, that we the people of India stop complaining about the politicians, their behaviors and start looking a little towards our own behaviors. We might actually see why we are still referred to as third world country; you can call it whatever you like developing state, emerging state, blah blah, but the fact still remains that we are looked down upon. Why?
I was born in a developing country i.e. India, and I sure don’t want to die in a developing country i.e. India. But if it continues like this, it sure will happen.
Thanks for reading!!
I am writing a separate article describing the mindsets of the voters and the foreseeable problems with that in the Indian context. If you liked this one, please stay tuned for the next one. And in the meanwhile, have a look at my other articles too. Thanks.