Dear Dr. Mallya,
I hope this missive finds you in the pink of health and the black of wealth.
I notice that you have been making attempts to help JPSK Sports get government funding for F1. But you must be aware that the sports ministry has firmly declared that anything expensive & entertaining cannot be called a sport. They prefer investing our tax money into activities that are cheap & boring (Kho Kho & Malkhamb to name a couple). In any case, hasn’t the Olympic telecast on DD conclusively proved to you, that in India, sport & entertainment do not mix.
I saw that you tried to take on the minister, MS Gill, on this issue, but you seem to have been sternly rebuffed. In other words you got a danda from gilli.*
But seriously, why on earth do the organisers want money from our government? I know that petrol prices have gone up, but still, isn’t F1 a rather prosperous pursuit? They say it has a global TV audience of 600 million. Surely such a venture would attract some capital. It’s like “Who wants to be a millionaire?” asking the government for a small subsidy.
And think of the perils you invite if you allow our government to get into the event. I can imagine a cabinet meeting where every ministry imposes its agenda on the race. Here is a partial list of possible policy decisions…
1. The race will not be called India F1. It will be renamed the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Motor Vehicle Race.
2. The circuit will be built by NHAI (with labour drawn under NREGS). Which means, the earliest we can have the event is somewhere around 2025.
3. Instead of the 5 red lights being extinguished, the race will be inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi cutting a ribbon and then gracefully, ambling out of the track.
4. DD will be the host broadcaster and Anupam Gulati will provide the commentary. Which also means that you and your Force India team will have to act in a patriotic A/V set to the music of Chak De India.
5. The health ministry will want the exhausts sealed so that there is no smoking in public places.
6. The education minister will do away with the old-fashioned method of deciding the winner by seeing who comes first. Instead a complex method of continuous evaluation will be used.
7. The winners will not be allowed to drink champagne because that is deeply offensive to Indian sentiments. Coconut water will be served instead. However, it can still be branded Mumms because that goes well with our traditional values.
8. If the event is successful, the HRD ministry will soon start 17 more F1 races by the simple technique of renaming various existing events as F1.
So my advice to you is – stay away from the government. A sarkari Formula 1 is one formula for disaster.
You could however, go to Bollywood for funds. These days they are the biggest patrons of sport. You might have to plant a few trees in the circuit though, so that the cars can go round them. Or better still, ask BCCI. They will give you the money. They love making a lot of noise and going around in circles, anyway.
I’m sure you, dear reader, can offer up a lot more shudder-worthy scenarios. So do pen in your suggestions so that this list can be expanded.
*You can see a transcript of the conversation between Dr. Mallya & Dr. Gill here.