Thursday, November 3, 2011


F1 is all set to revamp India’s sporting spirit!

India has come a long way from hosting games like hockey and cricket to hosting one of the world’s most elite games - the Grand Prix. The recent F1 race organised in Greater Noida speaks volume about the country’s ability to successfully host not only niche sports but also a destination for sports which needs precision in technology. Unlike other sports, F1 can’t be executed without state-of-art facility and latest technology at place. And thankfully, we pulled it off so smoothly, without any major controversy. Thanks to the government for their non-interference.

Barring a dog found running parallel to the race tracks, everything else was at par with the international standards. Till now, the F1 races have been conventionally hosted by developed nations, and they also have an audience who understand the technicality behind the cars and the way the race gets conducted. Surprisingly, since the last one decade, F1 races have been hosted by countries that were never on the F1 organizers list before. Asian nations like Korea, Japan, Singapore and China have hosted F1 race in the recent past. And India is the latest entrant. But then the convention of it being a niche sport was challenged at the stands of Noida race tracks. People from all sections of the society flocked to just get one glimpse of the spectacle and were also found talking about Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari.

Amidst the entire hullabaloo, what’s noteworthy is that it was a completely private initiative. Unlike CWG, there were no scams (as of now), no collapsing of bridges, no reports of semi-constructed infrastructure, shoddy hospitality and practice area for the players and no one boycotted the games. World’s most renowned players ranging from Jenson Button to our very own Narain Karthikeyan all came down to battle it out there. Beside the soft power, the event generated revenue of around Rs.800 crore and created employment opportunity for more than 15,000 people and other positive externalities it created include boosting tourism, air travel and hotel industry. ASSOCHAM estimates that the race would generate revenue more than Rs.90,000 crore in the next one decade. This very event itself generated more than Rs.10,000 crores from sale of tickets alone.

It’s just not about comparing CWG with F1 grand prix, but about how two venues hardly a few kilometers away from each other host two games in two completely different manners. Private investment is not only the pivotal factor, but the way the entire construction plan was executed is a lesson to learn.

There is no doubt in the fact that private sport initiatives and associations have always been more successful than those headed by bureaucratic-minded government bodies. Today, even the BCCI being a private body made cricket the most popular sport. Similarly, Jindal’s academies in Noida, Kurukshetra and Raigarh are training shooters than Government owned shooting range. There is no big name in tennis academy beside, Bhupathi Tennis Academy – which again is a private initiative. The same is true for Neo International Sports Academy in Mumbai, Abhijit Kadam Football Development Centre and many others.

F1 has undoubtedly put India on global sports map, but what is important is about learning a lesson or two. We have enough precedence now that sports generate unprecedented positive externalities, and so it should not be left with the state, to ruin it any further.


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