Meet Ruchir Modi, President of Alwar Cricket Association
Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi's son plays with a straight bat on the league of extraordinarily rich businessmen, cricket, corruption and corporates
At 23, Ruchir Modi is on the board of directors of Modi Enterprises, K K Modi Group and Godfrey Phillips India Ltd. He is also president of Alwar Cricket Association since 2016. Son to Lalit Modi, the Board of Cricket Control in India's bugbear, Ruchir dived into the turbulent waters of cricket administration, undeterred by controversy that surrounded his father's firing from the post of Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman on charges of misappropriation of funds. From being the mastermind of IPL in 2008, who lured corporate money and the best Test cricket talent to 2010, when he fled to England citing threats to his safety, his journey is the stuff of film scripts. In 2013, he was banned for life by the BCCI.
On a Mumbai visit, where Ruchir has family business interests, he meets mid-day to talk big money in cricket, and why he chose cricket administration despite his father's fall from grace.
Excerpts from the interview.
You are at the top of the family owned business at 23. Has the time come for younger CEOs and directors?
I don't think age has anything to do with managing key areas of an organisation. What matters is the upbringing and environment you were brought up in. My generation is quick to grasp, and deliver effective results; there is a lot of potential and dynamism in today's youth. The likes of Lalit Modi, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford have inspired me.
You schooled in Mumbai before taking off to London. Now it's a life between Mumbai, London, Delhi and Rajasthan.
Travelling is inevitable for me, with the multiple hats I wear. In Mumbai, I am currently looking into three businesses. In New Delhi, we have family businesses again. In the UAE, we run our international business division. In the UK and Europe, I have investments across sectors. But, I am most passionate about a Mexican restaurant launched in a joint venture with my sister and one of London's renowned restaurateurs, Peyotito.
You contested and won the presidency to the Alwar District Cricket Association. Why get into cricket administration?
The journey of contesting and winning the presidency was quite an experience and achievement. Stepping into cricket administration was my decision alone. I have attended numerous general body and organisational meetings of the IPL, and that, I believe, left me with in-depth knowledge about the game and team management.
Lalit Modi, Sharad Pawar and Mukesh Ambani share a laugh on during the 2010 DLF Indian Premier League T20 group stage match between Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers played at Brabourne Stadium in April
How much did your father's IPL idea inspire you?
I witnessed its creation. He was committed towards bringing enhancement and innovation to cricket even before the IPL. I don't think anybody else has dedicated their entire life to the game and created one of the world's most successful sporting leagues. He was filled with energy. I don't believe there is another cricket or a sports administrator with his passion and ability to deliver.
What do you think of the current IPL?
It will always be something that puts India on the map. It draws talent from every corner of the country and the world. Its first three years marked its ability to last a lifetime. Valuations of teams rose 6x, which is unprecedented in history. Interest in the IPL will continue to increase as teams establish themselves in their regions and through their iconic players, fan following strengthens.
But, no matter how strong the brand is, the management and its ability to defer has seriously lacked since 2010. My father created the IPL as a package of cricket and entertainment. Today, you remove the latter and all you have is cricket; the excitement is gone. Don't get me wrong, this [new avatar] also appeals to some, but not to everyone, especially not the youth.
That being said, the IPL isn't going anywhere.
Lalit Modi with Actress Shilpa Shetty. Pics/Getty Images
Former cricketers say fixing is inevitable because the format is about clubs, not country. The loyalty factor is compromised.
As far as fixing is concerned, nobody knows the the truth. It should not deter professional cricketers from giving their best, and not short-changing the game that has given them so much.
It's accused of crass commercialization. Critics say cricket has sold its soul. It's about tamasha and not about technique.
If you look at the teams that eventually win the IPL title, they are the ones with skilled bowlers and batsmen who also play Test cricket as well as the abridged version of the game.
You can't neglect what value IPL holds for the future of Indian cricket. It has generated an incredible fan following, and transformed the way cricket is played. Not only has it provided business to the corporates, it has also fuelled the masses with employment opportunities. It brought a whole new spectator base to the game - women and youth.
The BCCI says that the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) is banned because Lalit Modi still holds a post in the Nagaur District Cricket Association, which is part of the RCA. Would you like to comment?
BCCI's stand is legally untenable. You can't punish a whole state association because the person leading it is unacceptable to some. My father stood for the right cause, that's why he was a hindrance for those with vested interests. I am hopeful of an amicable resolution to the issue.
Didn't his bitter experience with the BCCI deter you from trying your hand at cricket administration?
The Board had been tremendously unfair to him. Nevertheless, I have learnt a lot from this experience. Instead of being deterred, it made me more resolute to prove my mettle while carrying on his legacy.
Why doesn't he return to India? Although he has warned against terming him a fugitive, everyone believes he 'fled' India.
He had his reasons for leaving India. It was not easy to be here at the time he left. I know the circumstances in which he left the country. It was in his best interest. One day, he is going to overcome all this.
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