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|EDITORIAL: The IPL Crisis
The Indian Premier League cricket tournament has glitz, glamour and is rolling in moolah.
But is it cricket?
We mean it both literally and figuratively. The question is not only whether the sport of cricket has taken a back seat in this flamboyant — some would say garish — competition.
Now, after the suspension of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi amid dark hints of financial shenanigans, the bigger question of whether honesty and good sportsmanship have been compromised is being raised. In other words, people are beginning to wonder about IPL, worry whether it’s not really cricket, to use that old English idiom.
Even before the current scandal, the IPL and its huge financial success raised troubling issues about a much beloved sport in the hapless thrall of unbridled commercialization. Our correspondent Priyanka Bhardwaj reflects about this in our cover story.
Sometimes being an expatriate Indian is not an easy thing. This fact was brought home with rather unpleasant clarity by a recent Indian government visa rule that appears almost Kafkaesque in its bizarre whimsy.
According to an announcement in the Web site of the Indian Consulate General in San Francisco, “For Naturalized US Citizens of Indian Descent: A SURRENDER CERTIFICATE is required for obtaining any service including Visa, OCI and PIO.”
A click leads to this helpful explanation:
“Indian citizens acquiring US (foreign) citizenship and renouncing Indian citizenship are required to surrender their Indian passports and obtain a ‘Surrender Certificate’ which is issued by the Consulate. The charges for obtaining this service is US$ 175/-. These passports are cancelled and returned to the passport holder for future reference.”
Wait, there’s more: “For delayed surrender of Indian Passport there is additional penalty. Please see schedule of penalties.”
Notwithstanding all the glitzy accouterments of over a decade of liberalization, India’s bureaucracy lives. One does not want to make light of India’s serious security needs, but it remains unclear precisely what these new rule will achieve.
What’s abundantly clear is the nightmare it could create for many U.S. –based non-resident Indians. See, some Indian bureaucrat with a sadistic streak has come up with the bright idea of making the rule retroactive.
Thousands of people of Indian descent have obtained U.S. citizenship over the last sixty years. They have been travelling to India on American passports with Indian visas. Now the new rules are applicable retroactively. If you got your U.S. passport quite a few years back, better go and find that old Indian passport.
Heaven help you if you have lost it, because you have a paperwork nightmare that could involve invoking the Freedom of Information Act.
Otherwise, no Indian visa for you.
NRI activist Inder Singh highlights the predicament for Indian Americans in an article this month.
It is a given in international politics that in times of economic difficulty, xenophobic tendencies tend to cloud sound judgement. Two noted economists, Arvind Panagariya and Jagdish Bhagwati, made that case recently in a Times of India opinion piece and warned India about falling into the same trap.
Sino-U.S. trade has been a political hot potato for many years now in the U.S., occasionally carrying the noisome whiff of “yellow peril” xenophobia of an earlier, uglier age.
Staring at a yawning current account deficit with the great manufacturing juggernaut that China has now become, the tendency in the U.S. to pile the blame on treacherous Chinese policymakers who artificially devalue their currency has been too seductive for U.S. politicians to resist.
Now India appears to have joined the U.S. bandwagon, Panagariya and Bhagwati note, quoting a recent report in the Financial Times which quotes the chief of India’s central Reserve Bank essentially agreeing with the position of many U.S. politicians and policy analysts.
They are all wrong, Panagariya and Bhagwati said in the article.
“The major explanation for the current imbalances between China and the U.S. lies in the savings-investment gaps in the countries,” Panagariya argues. “China (as also Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Norway) saves more than it is able to invest domestically while the opposite holds for the U.S. The exchange rate may marginally impact these balances but not nearly enough.”
Panagariya says India is barking up the wrong tree by focusing on a bilateral U.S.-China currency valuation dispute. It risks distracting attention from more core economic and policy issues that do cause trade imbalance, he warns in a detailed article we publish in this issue.