January 7, 2011


Since this is my first post for 2011, to freshen things up a bit, and in keeping with my resolution to try something new with every post, I have given myself sufficient creative license to attach a disturbing piece of footage below.

I stumbled across this video shortly after reading that India would be hosting a Formula1 Grand Prix in 2011. It took me some time to digest that, and the obvious question that followed, was Why India? Does India really need Formula1 or does Formula1 really need India?

Before I comment on that, let me honestly say that what follows is bound to be a biased viewpoint, since I have recently discovered that live golf is more interesting than Formula1 highlights. For starters, I would like it very much if some of these drivers grew gonads and overtook each other on track as opposed to gaining track position from the relative comfort of a pit-lane. I would also like it if the people who made these rules could make up their minds about refuelling, tyre changes and KERS, since I'm not really inclined to watch any sport in which the rules change as often as the costumes in Endhiran. Also, on behalf of tree-hugging, vegetable-eating, eco-friendly Prius-owning types, I would say that Formula1 is a criminal waste of fuel and rubber, not to mention time. Lastly and quite importantly, ever since the 2002 Austrian GP, where team orders undermined driver talent and arrested common sense, I have found myself repulsed by the "sport". However, a couple of years back, I decided to put all of this aside and support the Force India team, because my heart swells with pride every time I see the Indian flag on anything and also because the team is supported by several major alcohol labels. Well that, plus Shahrukh Khan got all choked up and asked all of us to support them.  However, when I realised that neither of the drivers were Indian, that the car did not run on Tata engines, and that the team did not do it's testing on the Outer Ring Road, needless to say, my sense of pride and patriotism took a beating.

If I haven't already been a bit of a buzzkill, here's the clincher--the deal to bring Formula1 to India was finalized by the Indian Olympic Association. Really? Why, pray tell, are we giving the CWG boys more money? Didn't Suresh Kalmadi sodomize us hard enough the last time? While we're at it, why don't we ask Chetan Sharma to bowl the last ball of a match against Pakistan or put A. Raja in charge of 3G spectrum allocation?

Let me try and put all of this in perspective. We are still fighting over religious and historical issues that have been left unresolved for so long that it takes carbon dating to figure out when it happened. The victims of industrial catastrophes that happened before I was born, still haven't found justice. As if these weren't bad enough, the people we empowered to resolve these issues somehow found enough time to convince dictionary publishers the world over that the word "scam" was actually more of a suffix and less of a verb. Click here if you don't believe me. Jesus Christ, they've even managed to scam urea. So the moral, if you haven't already guessed, is that in India, wherever there is money, there is some to be made.

But who really cares, so long as Formula1 helps generate revenue and employment in India? Liquor sales will undoubtedly go up. Formula1 merchandise will be in huge demand. Sports bars would be back in business. Money will be made from the sale of tickets to people who actually care enough to go to Noida. Obviously, a lot more would be made from the sale of broadcast rights and advertising. A few thousand people will be employed in the construction and maintenance of the circuit. Obviously then, an estimated Rs.15 billion is a reasonable price to pay to put India on the Formula1 map. Also, it would be nice to be famous for something other than Slumdog Millionaire. 

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that for quite a while now, India has overestimated its place in the world. We love to think of ourselves as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, not realising that our population is growing at a faster rate. We love to think that we are among the most powerful nations in the world, in spite of being politely kicked in the nuts every time we seek membership to the UN Security Council, but, like a stubborn child who wants a lollipop, we continue to ask. Historically, we don't have much to brag about when it comes to sport either. For a country that multiplies at a rate that can be matched only by anopheles mosquitoes in stagnant water, we still cannot find eleven people who can take us to the football World Cup. Hockey, for a while, got a boost in the form of the now defunct Premier Hockey League, but still lacks proper infrastructure and funding from the government. Forget about investing in the development of sports in rural India, schools and colleges making sport an integral part of education, providing funding for football and hockey academies, for 15 billion bucks, hell, we could have even bought the entire Spanish football team or the Australian hockey team.  

Allow me also to say, for the record, that I'm not against India hosting Formula1 races, but maybe, just maybe it can wait until after we have shed the tag of a third-world country where corruption is a cottage industry and spelling-bees are the national sport. I suppose the silver lining in all of this is that the Noida circuit will supposedly also be hosting MotoGP races in the near future. For the time being though, I will let you decide whether India needs Formula1 right now. But I guess what we can all agree upon is that India needs F1. India needs a lot of F1.


  1. im not sure i fully understand the smiley, but thanks :D

  2. Sajiv, a good one.. well this's the first of ur blogs i'm reading.. i'l surely read the rest ;-)
    I completely agree with you on the above point.. I don't see a reason for F1 when critical issues need to be resolved... while India ranks 171 out of 175 in public health spending according to a WHO study(less than 1% of GDP)... the difference btw the rich and poor aggravates.. leading to a massive imbalance in the economy...

  3. Sajju bhai, some valid points about alleviating poverty, and improving the overall haal of this country. Heres the bottom line though. As long as you have pseudo-sports-administrators/politicians running things in this country, it doesnt matter whether its F1, or MotoGP or Premier Kho-kho Championships.

    Money coming in is less than money stuffed into the VIP-undies-with-pocket of folks who couldn't give a rats ass about national development, and that's the larger issue at hand.

  4. hey sajiv.. very well mentioned dude.. n yeah better improve the livin conditions of crores of ppl below poverty line n then try for hostin things like f1..much of the facts very well written.. :)


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