Cricket Now A Commercial Activity, Admits Minister

The Indian Finance Minister has informed the parliament that the BCCI (The Board of Control for Cricket in India) had been enjoying income tax exemption earlier. In the financial year 2007-08  the income tax exemption was withdrawn. Reason? The sports Body is no longer promoting cricket as a charitable activity and is now primarily a commercial entity.

I have earlier written on this site that the monarchs of sports in India have misused the games for personal aggrandizement at the cost of the sports. They are all in politics. They effectively block the entry of others in sports management or promotional activities. For them, personal gains are public gains, since they too are part of the public!

The Minister further stated that the commercial activities of the BCCI alone brought them windfall income of more than rupees 1000 crores annually, a part of which was shared by IPL teams and state cricket associations. The government got tax amounting to rupees 200 crores.

It is interesting to note that the fiefdom of the politician was enjoying income tax exemption on such huge incomes. The poor tax payer was being loaded with additional income tax liabilities year after year to compensate for loss of revenue! What a fair and honest government? It is about only one sports body, there are hundreds of them. They are all doing “charity” ! To whom? Perhaps to the nation or the people or sportspersons. But no, they are doing charity to themselves. In the name of charity they are collecting funds from government, companies, international bodies and individuals. They hide their rank commercial activities under the garb of charitable entity. Such entities exist in education, health, culture, disability etc ,besides sports. This instrument has been successfully used to build loyal political acolytes and creating sources of regular income for them in circumvention of the law! The Minister for Sports didn’t calculate all these benefits accruing to the  Lords of Sports before taking his Sports Development Bill to the Cabinet and hence his public criticism by his senior colleagues.

There is one lesson that any government laying claim to honesty must learn from this sparring of the members of the council of ministers. All sporting bodies must immediately be audited and subjected to the existing laws governing commercial activities and charitable entities. Sports must be freed from the grip of the politician and the bureaucrat and run professionally. We have lost valuable opportunities. We should not merely put up a show of doing something, as in the case of extradition of Hadley, but must be serious. Sports have great potential for creating new jobs, boost economic activity and put India in the league of the top 5 sporting countries.

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