06 Jan 2015
The committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has not disappointed cricket fans who favour a thorough overhaul of cricket administration in the country. Under intense judicial scrutiny ever since the betting scandal hit the Indian Premier League in 2013, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been seen by many as a cosy club of individuals who treat the various regional units as part of their personal fiefdom. The BCCI suffered from a serious credibility deficit as cricket-lovers were convinced that the businessmen and politicians who run the cash-rich body in an opaque manner were not working entirely in the game's interest. The Supreme Court appointed the Lodha committee last year to suggest ways to rid cricket administration of its many obvious ills, such as lack of transparency and accountability. The panel has mooted sweeping reforms in the board's structure and functioning. The proposed measures could radically alter the way the BCCI functions as well as vastly improve its public image and impart much-needed credibility: restricted tenures, bar on holding more than one office at a time, limits on terms, cooling-off periods between the holding of one office and another, and steps to prevent the sort of conflict of interest that was brazenly in view for many years. One significant suggestion is that government servants and ministers be kept out of cricket administration. Even if the political class as a whole is not barred, it will at least prevent influential politicians in government eyeing the spoils of office in cricket administration.
The report has two major suggestions related to public policy. One is the radical idea of legalising betting in cricket. Betting cast a dark shadow on the IPL and led to two franchises being suspended. Many will welcome such legalisation as that will bring in an element of regulation and monitoring. Its implementation, however, will hinge on suitable local legislation across the country. The BCCI will have to ensure strict adherence to the condition that players, managers, officials or anyone associated with cricket are not allowed to participate in betting. Another idea is that the BCCI — which the Supreme Court held last year to be a body discharging a public function — be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. It does sound attractive. However, it will both require legislative change and a balancing rule that unnecessary queries are not directed towards decisions made by captains and selectors of the national and domestic teams. It is not difficult to guess that the BCCI would prefer the report to be non-binding and that it would contest some of the recommendations before the Supreme Court. A restructured cricket board and an equitable system of voting by and in all its affiliated units will surely be in the game's interest. What ultimately matters is that cricket should not suffer because of whimsical individuals holding on to key posts in the administration and working to cover up instead of preventing unsavoury developments
Take apart (a piece of machinery or equipment) in order to examine it and repair it if necessary.
Complete with regard to every detail; not superficial or partial.
Critical observation or examination.
Giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
An estate of land, especially one held on condition of feudal service
Not able to be seen through; not transparent.
Change or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way.
Fasten (something, especially a door or window) with a bar or bars.
A movable joint or mechanism on which a door, gate, or lid swings as it opens and closes, or that connects linked objects.
The scope, extent, or bounds of something.
Playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way.
Disagreeable to taste, smell, or look at.
THE HINDU: A dangerous escalation
The execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an influential Shia cleric, by Saudi Arabia has expectedly led to a flare-up of sectarian passions in West Asia. Sheikh Nimr was the most prominent religious leader of the Kingdom's Shia minority, which has long been subjected to institutionalised segregation by the Sunni monarchy of the al-Saud family. He was the driving force behind the 2011 protests in the country's east, inspired by Arab Spring protests elsewhere. Moreover, Sheikh Nimr was a respected cleric among the Shia community in general. He had spent years in Iran's Shia seminaries. Tehran had repeatedly asked Riyadh to pardon him. By executing him, ignoring all those pleas, Saudi Arabia has dangerously escalated its rivalry with Iran. Within days, the stand-off has snowballed into a full-blown diplomatic crisis with sectarian overtones. Saudi missions in Tehran and Mashhad were ransacked by protesters. In return, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan have cut diplomatic relations with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates has downgraded ties.
West Asia is already witnessing sectarian conflicts. Iraq, which is torn apart on sectarian lines, is taking baby steps under the new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to rebuild national unity. The country witnessed a bloody phase of sectarian strife in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. Parts of the country, including the second largest city, Mosul, are still under the control of Islamic State, which is carrying out a systematic campaign against non-Sunni religious groups. In Yemen, the Shia Houthi rebels are fighting forces loyal to a Saudi-protected government led by Sunnis. In Bahrain, the wounds of a Shia rebellion which was crushed by a Sunni monarch with the help of the Saudis are still not healed. By executing Sheikh Nimr, Riyadh has poured oil into this sectarian fire, for which the region will have to pay a huge price. For decades, one of the main sources of instability in West Asia has been the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Though the ultimate goal of both nations has been regional supremacy, they use sectarianism as a vehicle to maximise their interests. While Riyadh has the support of Sunni monarchs and dictators in the Arab world, Iran is aligned with Iraq and Syria, besides its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. This sets the stage for a dangerous Shia-Sunni conflict across the region. Unless tensions are dialled down between these two heavyweights, there will not be peace in West Asia. Both the U.S. and Russia, allies of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, have called for calm. Moscow has reportedly offered to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran. The U.S. and Russia should use their influence to rein in further escalation of tensions. Unchecked, the Saudi-Iran rivalry could plunge the region, already torn apart by invasions, civil wars and terrorism, into further chaos.
The action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.
The carrying out or putting into effect of a plan, order, or course of HANGED
The action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.
Go hurriedly through (a place) stealing things and causing damage.
Angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict.
A long, narrow strap attached at one end to a horse's bit, typically used in pairs to guide or check a horse while riding or driving.
A rapid increase; a rise
Jump or dive quickly and energetically.
An instance of invading a country or region with an armed force.
Complete disorder and confusion.
BUSINESS STANDARD: Raising excise on petrol, diesel is a good move
The Union government raised the excise duty on petrol and diesel last Saturday, taking advantage of falling international crude oil prices. This was the third such duty increase in the current financial year. But this round, too, did not cause prices at the pump to rise. This is because the oil marketing companies are still left with a surplus after absorbing the impact of the higher excise duty and passing on the benefit of lower retail prices that they have been announcing periodically over the past year and a half. All this has been possible because, since June 2014, international crude oil prices have declined about 70 per cent. Petrol prices have been cut in small doses on 20 occasions and diesel prices too have seen a reduction on 16 occasions. According to one estimate, consumers of petrol and diesel have gained over Rs 60,000 crore between April and October 2015, even as the government is likely to garner additional revenue of Rs 10,000 crore from the three excise hikes in the current financial year. This will be over and above an extra Rs 22,000 crore collected on account of the four such increases in 2014-15.
The government's strategy of increasing duty, even while oil marketing companies effect moderate price cuts, reflects a mature and prudent response to the decline in international crude oil prices. India imports crude oil in large quantities to meet almost 80 per cent of its total domestic demand. Passing on the entire benefit of the fall in crude oil prices to the oil refining companies or the consumers would count as poor policy, unmindful of the basic principles of taxing scarce non-renewable resources like petroleum products. The logic of higher duty gets stronger in a situation when crude oil prices are steadily moving in a southward direction and the country's dependence on imported crude oil continues to rise. Thus, the government deserves to be complimented on the correctness of its response – undeterred as it has been by populist demands for ushering in the promised good days through lower prices. The extra revenue mobilised through the duty increases will hopefully be used for productive purposes like helping the government ramp up its capital expenditure. The only discordant note comes from hints that the excise duty may be reduced if crude oil prices start rising. This would only be warranted in order to smooth out runaway inflation in the case of short, sharp increases in international crude oil prices. The promise of such duty cuts needlessly raises expectations that would later need to be managed.
Another oil sector development that shows the government's firm commitment to subsidies reform is its decision to roll out the direct benefits transfer scheme for payment of subsidy to consumers of kerosene in 26 districts across eight states from April 1, 2016. This is expected to curtail the government's subsidy bill on kerosene, which was estimated at Rs 24,800 crore in 2014-15. In a bid to get more states to persuade kerosene users to join the scheme, the Centre has agreed to share as much as three-fourths of its subsidy savings on kerosene with the states in the first two years. The sharing formula would be reduced gradually in the subsequent years. But this is a commendable start to prevent diversion and misuse of the fuel – and in the process ensure better targeting of subsidies.
Gather or collect (something, especially information or approval).
Acting with or showing care and thought for the future.
(especially of food, money, or some other resource) insufficient for the demand.
Politely congratulate or praise (someone) for something.
Persevering with something despite setbacks.
Show or guide (someone) somewhere.
Disagreeing or incongruous.
Reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on
Cause (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument
Among the lakhs of Delhi residents taking to the government's odd-even rule, apparently cheerfully, are high constitutional functionaries who are, on paper, exempted from the policy. Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and his brother judge, Justice A.K. Sikri, are carpooling to work. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and members of his council of ministers were pointedly not exempted from the rule — the AAP, which rails against the capital's "VIP culture" every chance it gets, is obviously making a political point. The point is well made. An eye-catching example is being set, not just for ordinary citizens, but also for "VIPs", by the chief minister himself adhering to the spirit of the policy and carpooling with colleagues Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain, even as his deputy, Manish Sisodia, cycles to work. Pollution is a great leveller — it affects the high and mighty as well as the rest. As Justice Thakur had said, "All is not well with Delhi", and at this time when all hands are needed on deck, these dignitaries are showing the way.
It's early days yet, but so far the buy-in by citizens has also been heartening. As Health Minister Jain pointed out, the close to 2,000 chalans issued on Monday, the critical first working day after the rule came into effect, represent a minuscule proportion of the 20 lakh-odd registered cars in Delhi. A project of this scale, and compliance with it, cannot be railroaded by government diktat or the fear of chalans alone. Its success depends on citizens taking ownership of it.
India has a long history of leaders leading by example. By making small sacrifices in the fight against pollution, the judges and ministers of Delhi underscore the gravity of the problem, and encourage people to take charge of the search for solutions
Free (a person or organization) from an obligation or liability imposed on others.
Form or participate in a carpool.
A person considered to be important because of high rank or office.
Make more cheerful or confident.
All the best!