Month: April 2010

ICL and IPL : More similarities than differences

In the IPL hoopla most have forgotten that the now discontinued Indian Cricket League (ICL) was the first T20 cricket tournament in India. Started in 2007, it saw the potential of T20 cricket among different teams as an entertaining format ideal for TV.

Indian Premier League (IPL), however much Lalit Modi may deny was inspired by the ICL format.

ICL was considered an unofficial league for the simple reason that it was a private league promoted by Subhash Chandra. It did not have the blessings of BCCI. BCCI even punished people like Kapil Dev and players associated with ICL and ganged up with other cricket boards to disallow the players included in ICL in their national teams.

On the face of it, IPL appeared to be totally above board and had the sanction of the BCCI, implying that the Govt backs it. So IPL came to be recognised as the official cricket league. This gave it the moral authority, government backing and the credibility which ICL lacked. In addition with the kind of budgets and the scale that IPL could muster , IPL succeeded and ICL failed.

But recent exposes on IPL gives us a completely different spin to IPL. IPL has more similarities to ICL than just the T20 cricket format.

  • ICL was promoted by Subhash Chandra and run by Himanshu Mody. IPL was promoted by BCCI (Sharad Pawar ?) and run by Lalit Modi.  
  • ICL contracted various Indian and foreign players and divided them randomly into city teams. All teams were owned by Subhash Chandra initially. IPL auctioned franchises to various  corporates/ owners and then each team bought players in auctions. Now it is becoming clearer that although public face of the teams were different, the owners of the teams were all part of a caucus ,either direct BCCI office bearers ( CSK) or benami by Lalit Modi ( KKR, KXP, RR ?). The rivalry between teams was an artificial creation only for public consumption.
  • ICL was conducted to create content for Zee Sports, which was owned by Subhash Chandra. IPL was conducted to create content for SET MAX, in which Sharad Pawar’s son-in-law B R Sule is alleged to have a significant stake.
  • ICL co-opted Kapil Dev as the Chairman to give it a credible cricketing face. IPL brought in Sunil Gavaskar, Pataudi and Shastri in the governing council for the credibility. In both cases it was ‘cash for credibility” deal. Atleast in the case of ICL, Kapil Dev was a paid Chairman and it was disclosed.

The only major difference between ICL and IPL was that ICL was a private league upfront, IPL was termed as a BCCI , therefore government, sponsored league.Though it is now coming out that IPL was as much a private league as the ICL Lalit Modi’s real calibre was in getting it an official status and manipulating back-doors to ban ICL players.

In India, hyprocrisy is a way of life. Manipulators succeed where entrepreneurs fail.

The monopoly of BCCI ( often called Badmaash Company of Cricket in India)  to conduct cricket leagues ought to go. Their arm-twisting International and state boards should stop.  There are enough cricketers waiting to be discovered, tens of TV channels hungry for content, enough zoozoo advertisers, plenty of out-of-work stars who will come to cheer for some sweat equity  and millions of cricket crazy Indians. 

If Lalit Modi is really the magician he is made out to be, he can revive ICL ( very unlikely because of the bad blood ) or start a new league with his papa’s wealth.

If the Indians love T20 cricket, give them choice. May the best league win.


Weekly Business Quiz #24

Q1. MUDRA and BBDO india are ad agencies which are part of the second largest ad group in the world. Which one ?

Ans. Omnicom

Q2. It is not Pune punters or Pune pirates or Pune pansies or even Pune pundits. The Pune IPL team will be called Sahara Pune….?

Ans.  Warriors

Q3. Name this new Mahesh Manjrekar film based on the 1982 Bombay textile mills strike led by the notorious Datta Samant.

Ans. City of gold

Q4. Before film stars and cricketers came to ads, What pics were common in posters and calendars for indian products?

Ans. Hindu Gods & goddesses. Baby Krishna on Woodwards and Vishnu on sunlight

Q5. In 1920s-30s big indl groups in india e.g Bird & co used to raise capital,float cos & manage them, What were they called ?

Ans. Managing agency

Q6. In this season of scams it is time to remember ‘Deep throat’ who blew the lid of one of the biggest scandals in US. Which one ?

Ans. Watergate

Q7. Which crisis has been described by IATA chief as a crisis ‘bigger than 9/11’ for the aviation business?

Ans. Volcanic ash in the Iceland sky

Q8. This former Ranbaxy chief has a 50:50 JV with GVK group called GVK bio, a fast growing CRO. Name him.

Ans. D S Brar

Q9. Often called the ‘father of Indian HRD’, this academician has over 60 books to his credit in HR/OB.He passed away Who?

Ans. Dr. Udai Pareek

Q10. What is the new social media platform by Microsoft targetted at politicians called ?

Ans. Townhall

Q11. Which All india project will be conducted over 11 months by 25 lac team members and costing Rs 2209 cr ?

Ans. Census 2011

Why are Doctors losing respect in the society ?

From childhood we hear medicine is a noble profession. Doctors make great sacrifices to save lives. On the operating table, they play God. They dedicate their lives to serving society. A Doctor exists to serve his patients etc etc. All these beliefs gave the Doctor profession a great deal of respect in the society.

Yet, it appears this respect is eroding and eroding rather rapidly. The cancer of corruption and greed that has eroded most of the institutions in the society has touched the medical profession too. The recent arrest of Dr Ketan Desai , the President of Medical Council of India, the foremost professional body of Doctors, by CBI for accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore, just proves this.  

Informal chats with professionals in the pharmaceutical marketing throws up anecdotes galore of the greed and malpractices of highly successful doctors. In the pharmaceutical trade, an amount of 35 % of the MRP of the drug is set aside for marketing expenses. A significant portion of this expenses is spent on gifts for the doctors. These gifts are so devised , so that the Code of ethics for doctors is not violated.

MCI has amended the Indian Medical Council (Professional conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.

“The amendment prohibits the doctors from accepting gifts, travel facility, hospitality, cash or monetary grants or any other favours from any pharmaceutical and allied health sector industry for self or family members.”

Yet, the Health Minister has admitted in reply to a parliament question that nearly 2,000 doctors have violated professional ethics.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, because this represent only cases where the pharma companies have complained to the MCI. In most cases, pharma companies have accepted it as an occupational hazard or a cost of doing business and therefore do not complain.

In an incident which appeared bizarre to me, one pharma marketing manager was narrating how physicians deal with senior citizens. Diabetes being a rather common disorder among Indians, most senior citizens are recommended to undergo blood and urine tests for sugar. The diagnostic centre in connivance with the doctors give wrong reports indicating diabetes. The physician then puts the patient on insulin. As the patient comes out of the chamber, he is likely to be greeted by several Medical reps (MR) asking the patient, not his well-being, but what the doctor had prescribed. Based on the brand of insulin prescribed the respective co’s MR puts a tally mark against the Dr’s name. On reaching a target of say 50 the doctor is eligible for a car. Insulin being a life-long treatment and usually patients do not change the brand, the cost of car can be recovered in the long run. In the meanwhile, the competing MRs go and complain to the Doctor about how he has been partial to one company. Then they bandy their gifts and inform the doctor where the Doctor’s score stands with respect to their company’s scheme.

One pharma company CEO made a comment that he is quite happy bidding for Government tenders than dealing with doctors. Bribes in government tenders at 20 % are lower than the expenditure on gifts to doctors. In addition, he did not have to put up with the tantrums of many specialist doctors, who often insist on calls every week only from the CEO.

 Govt has through various means like Drug price control order, MCI guildelines etc have tried to keep the cost of drugs in check. Yet, in healthcare , medicines account for only 15 % of the total expenditure. Other heads like diagnostics, hospitals, Doctor’s fees etc account for the rest. These are all in unorganised sector and there are virtually no price controls and guidelines for these.

Most patients would have their own story to narrate about how many tests they or their family member had to undergo before the doctor pronounced his diagnosis. On many occasions an expensive MRI or a CAT scan was done but the doctor did not even spend a minute reading the report. Upto 50 % kickbacks to the referring doctors by the diagnostic centre is the norm in most metros.  The high rates of tests are not only to recover the investment the promoter has made in the equipment but also for the expenditure to cultivate a network of doctors who refer their patients to the centre.

Private sector hospitals particularly the tertiary care centres often under a corporate structure are a law unto themselves. The malpractices in pricing and dispensation of medical devices like stents or heart valves are many. Under the veneer of computerised efficiency and courteous patient care, overbilling and cheating the unsuspecting patient is rampant. Most ambitious doctors today dream of owning and operating a nursing home atleast, if not a hospital. Multimillionaire doctors like Dr Naresh Trehan have become role models for many doctors. (No wonder the Singh brothers, Malvinder and Shivinder, after selling Ranbaxy have decided to focus on healthcare, even quitting the financial services company Religare.)

It is no surprise that increasing number of doctors are unable to resist the temptation to cheat the patients a little or be greedy with the pharma companies, so as to make a fast buck. In the bargain losing respect a little. In honest chats with doctor friends, they will confess that they also started with the idealism of doing service to the society, but they could not stand up to the pressures of consumerism. Now, their ideals and ethics is limited only to family and friends. For all others, it is just money, money, more money.






Weekly Business Quiz # 23

Q1. Which All india project will be conducted over 11 months by 25 lac team members and costing Rs 2209 cr ?

Ans. Census 2011

Q2. What simple innovation did HUL carry out in its detergent bars to save BOP customers cost and water ?

Ans. A waterproof coating on 5 sides

Q3, Like Getty Images, an Indian co has created a collection of Indian images for use in ads. Brochures web sites etc. Name it.


Q4. Between ’87 & ’91 Lalit Modi was Exe. Director in a cigarette major. Name it.

Ans. Godfrey Philips. His family business totters but he is on top

Q5. Name this India born strategy guru who is credited with ‘core competence’ and ‘Bottom of Pyramid ‘. He passed away recently.

Ans. C K Prahalad.

Q6. Why has EYJAFJALLAJOKULL been in the news ?

Ans. It is the volcano in Iceland which is spewing ash forcing airlines to cancel flights leading to huge losses to the industry

Q7. The Kochi IPL team owner Shailendra Gaikwad’s team won the SPL. What is SPL?

Ans. Solapur Premier league

Q8. Connect Hotspot, Big C, Univercell, Sangeetha….

Ans.  All are chains of multi brand cellphone retail outlets in south india

Q9. What is Harshad Mehta doing in the Kochi IPL team ?

Ans.  He is the new Chairman of the KOCHI IPL team. In the land of scams even scamsters (?) names repeat

Q10. First proposed by Abdul Kalam , what is ‘PURA’ ?

Ans. Providing urban infrastructure in rural areas. GOI has taken it up

Q11. You know KKR the IPL team. In PE circles what is KKR ?

Ans. Kohlberg Kravis & Robert

Q12. According to Tharoor camp what is Lalit Modi’s KXP connection ?

Ans.  Gaurav, the brother of Mohit Burman, one of the owners of KXP, is Modi’s son-in-law.

Q13. What is unique about TACTILE MINDS a Canadian publication ?

Ans. First porn book for the blind. 17 nude pics of women & men that can be ‘felt’

Q14. What unique distinction did PROPUBLICA receive recently?

Ans. First online publication to receive a Pulitzer prize for journalism

Q15. Why should bank customers be grateful to Indore based Mahesh Natani & Ajit Jain?

Ans. Their PIL forced RBI to issue the new Savings Bank interest rule based on daily balance rather than monthly balance.

Q 16. Name this Stephen-IIMA alum who will take over as the global Mastercard CEO. Clue: his brother was HUL chairman.

Ans. Ajay Banga

Weekly Business Quiz # 22

Q1. Before selling its majority stake to a foreign bank with which bank were the GMR group associated ?

Ans. Vysya bank now ING Vysya

Q 2. Oberoi group has launched a bottled water brand. Name it. Clue – Red fort got a french twist.

Ans. L’quila

 Q3. Shahrukh Khan is onboard this airline as a director. Name the airline.

Ans. Jet airways

Q4. United Spirits claims to have become the no. 2 spirits co. in the world. Who have they dislodged?

Ans. Pernod Ricard. Diageo is no 1

Q5. Over several IPL venues one can see a balloon like thing floating with MRF written in bold letters. What is it called?

Ans. Blimp

 Q6. This summer most AC mfrs are highlighting their star ratings, 5 star being the most power saving. Who awards these ?

Ans. Bureau of energy efficiency

Q7. Pepsi has announced an alliance with Tata Tea for beverages. Which Tata co. was JV partner of Pepsi when they entered India ?

Ans. Voltas

Q8. Which agency is conducting the 3G auctions on behalf of the govt of India ?

Ans. Rothschild along with Dotecon

Q9. Popular FMCG brands like Bournvita put TV infomercials thru Buchanan group at a big discount. Under what name they advertise ?

Ans. Brand power

Q10. In the ’90s Chidambaram had resigned & was accepted by the PM PV Narasimha Rao. Why did he resign then?

Ans. PC had invested in the scam tainted FAIRGROWTH

Q 11. SKS microfinance will be the first MFI to go for an IPO. What does SKS stand for ?

Ans. Swayam Krushi Sangam. It started life as a non-profit


IPL 3 Quarter Finals-by accident or design ?

IPL 3 is now at a very interesting crossroads. One month of cricket has already been played and yet the semi-final line-up is not clear. After the matches on the 11th of April, only one team Mumbai Indians (MI)  has qualified for the semi-finals. But for Kings XI Punjab, who have virtually no chance of making it to the semi-finals, rest of the six teams have a good chance of making it to the semis. A look at the points table tells us that 3 teams are bunched at 12 points and 3 teams at 10 points at this stage in the league when most teams have played 11 matches each and 2 teams have played  12 matches each.

There are 11 more league matches between 12th April today and the semi-finals on 21st April. Each of these matches features, atleast one team who has a must-win requirement to make the semi-finals. There are several matches where both the teams have a must-win requirement for example CSK vs KKR on the 13th of April. Thus making the last few league matches, a virtual knockout stage. Thus making the league very interesting.

These matches are virtual quarter finals. Although there are no official Q/F as per the league format, in IPL 3 this has come about. The question to ask is whether they have come about by accident or by design ?

Whereas, one would like to believe that these Q/Fs have come about by accident, there are quite a few indicators which point to the other side.  The league matches in the last 10 days have thrown up very surprising results. Mumbai Indians which was cruising along beautifully, suddenly started losing to much lesser teams that too , 2 in a row. KXP which did nothing right in the first half of the league, suddenly starting becoming the giant-killer beating KKR even when they scored 200 and further beat up MI and DD which were at the top of the table. A large number of cricket enthusiasts point out to freak dismissals through run-outs, dropped catches etc to drive home the point that the script for the IPL 3 is not being written  on the ground in which it is played. 

The commercial angle to the need for Q/Fs is pretty clear. Well into the 4th week of the league, fatigue has set in among the TV viewers. The novelty of T20 namely sixes, run-outs, wickets, cheergirls has somewhat worn out already in the third year.  News is coming out that the audience for IPL in theaters across India is very low. The summer heat this year, has been very severe, making it all the more diffcult for filling up the stadia.  Many new centres like Nagpur, Dharamsala are hosting IPL matches for the first time, even though  they have no home teams playing.

Much that I would like to attribute the results of the matches held in the last few weeks to ‘the glorious uncertainties of cricket’, one cannot ignore the huge commercial motive. Let’s not forget IPL is in the hands of Lalit Modi, who is a brilliant marketer/organiser but also a consummate gambler.

One can never be sure, if the Q/Fs are by accident or design. If it does come out that it is by design, one should treat IPL as no different from WWE, the wrestling competitions on TV. 

Weekly Business Quiz # 21

Q1. Before selling its majority stake to a foreign bank with which bank were the GMR group associated ?

Ans. Vysya bank now ING Vysya

Q2. What is a ‘digital will’ ?

Ans. A will to bequeath digital assets like private emails , digital music photos , videos etc

Q3. Where will you find the worlds Mauryaprast, Noom. Solaria. Re-janm online ?

Ans. In a social network site by GODREJ

Q4. Which former US president as a board member of American Express stunned the board when he asked the diff between ‘equity’ and ‘revenue’ ?

Ans. Gerald Ford

Q5. Why are HUL and Colgate  watching the moves of WRIGLEY ‘S and PERFETTI in the marketplace ?

Ans. These cos. are pushing gum brands as oral care even through dentists

Q6. Who owns the skin care brand Neutrogena ?

Ans. Johnson and Johnson

Q7.  ‘How many friends does one person need?’ according to Robin Dunbar’s book which has this title.

Ans.  About 150. Beyond that there is memory overload.

Q8. Why does the bar in the Mum-Delhi luxury train Maharaja express have a ‘dry day’ board on 2 days out of its 7 day journey?

Ans. Prohibition in Gujarat.

Q9. Sweating in the Bhopal heat what did the Union Minister Jairam Ramesh refer to as ‘barbaric colonial relics’ ?

Ans. The convocation dress

Q 10. Why savings bank a/c holders will earn more interest from 1 apr 2010, though the int rate is same ?

Ans. New method based on daily balances as against lowest monthly balances earlier.

Q 11. Which Hyderabad based group has been sponsoring #Sania Mirza since her junior tennis days ?

Ans. #GVK

Q 12. Maruti 800 and Ford Ikon have stopped sales from today in 13 indian cities. Why ?

Ans. BS-IV pollution norms. These models are only BS-III compliant.

Q13. On being offered a drink in London and your reply was KUCCH NAHI. What will the host bring?

Ans. Whisky.KUCCH NAI is a whisky launched by an NRI.

Q 14. Ministry of health GOI has a dept of AYUSH. Expand AYUSH.

Ans. Ayurved, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. All traditional medicines.

Q 15. Ninety % of US CEOs are taller than the average American. What is this bias called ?

Ans. Heightism

– G.Mohan