The Dostoyevsky Defense

It’s a good thing the IPL is over and with it, all reason to be concerned about the environment. Six cartons of printouts running into a few thousand pages [I read five newspapers this morning and all of them cite a different figure — was tempted to hold up the hand of the highest bidder and declare that paper the winner] — what was Modi thinking?

Actually, the “IPL chairman and commissioner (suspended)” — trust Modi to use his suspension on his visiting card — and his legal team has been thinking fairly hard. And fairly well. And their response could in time to come be studied by those who study such things, under the title The Dostoyevsky Defense or some such: note that his reply is roughly the size of Crime and Punishment and Notes from the Underground. Combined.

You’ve got to love the man. Not only does he bury the BCCI under a mountain of paper while he himself chills in Monaco, he adds a gratuitous barb that it should take a “trained lawyer” like Shashank Manohar only three or four days to go through those six crates. Brilliant.

The framing of his defense has been uniformly fascinating. Step one [kind of like castling, say, where the objective was to build a defensive stronghold] was when he demanded that all charges against him be basis documentary evidence. Consider the original charges one more time: “behavioral patterns” is off the board because what the hell kind of documents can the board produce to back that up?; the charge that he tried to muscle Kochi into surrendering the franchise is equally off the table because (a) he is certainly smart enough not to threaten anyone through documented paperwork in triplicate and (b) the minutes of his meetings with the franchise, which IPL CEO Sundar Raman wrote, would only tend to present the picture Modi wished to present.

So that is two out of six charges defused. A third relates to the charge of finagling the internet rights to favor family and friends — and on that no one, not the board, not even the various investigative arms of the government, have been able to piece together with appropriate documentation the elaborate shell game through which rights were transfered and re-transfered until they ended up in the ‘right’ hands. So that is three out of six charges defanged even before the disciplinary hearings have even started.

The remaining three charges are what Modi and his battery of high priced lawyers have buried under a blizzard of paperwork — and significantly, the papers are supposed to include copies of SMSes sent to “members of the governing council”. That line underscores what has become common knowledge in recent times — that while Modi did not at all times take the governing council in toto into his confidence, he roped in various individual members, including two former cricketers who are part of the council, into parts of various schemes [that also explains why Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar have, unlike Pataudi, been totally silent on the issue ever since it hit the headlines].

Modi’s strategy is simple, and so is his defense: injured innocence, and a paper trail a mile wide to show that various members of the council knew what he was doing as he was doing it.

In other words, he changes the nature of the charges against him. It is not about whether there was irregularity in the granting of franchises to KXIP and Rajasthan Royals — the point, he will argue, is not whether everything was kosher or not, but whether he kept the governing council in the loop while it was all happening. To that end, his argument is, if I informed one member of the council of what I was doing at the time I was doing it, it is tantamount to having informed the whole council.


And not much the BCCI, its disciplinary council, or the IPL governing council can do about any of this. The BCCI still wants him out of the top chair in the IPL — but Modi is, with every step, making it increasingly difficult for the honchos to justify taking the step of removing him. The end game here promises to be even more fascinating than the 12th game of the recent world championship between Anand and Topalov.

Meanwhile, the best team in the competition takes on the best-performing team in the T20 World Cup – a rare instance of the two most deserving finalists facing off in the marquee match. Should be fun — see you on Twitter at game time.


22 thoughts on “The Dostoyevsky Defense

  1. Prem,
    On an unrelated note, do you have any plans to release Bhimsen as a book in stores in future? I am intending to tell various versions of Mahabharat (first Bhimsen, then rest) to my little daughter. Book would be an ideal choice, if not I will settle for the pdf version i have. In my view, Bhimsen is a must read for multiple reasons (POV narration, human nature of the characters explored… just to name few). Can I share the bhimsen in pdf format with my friends?

    Also, can you please share the original version (online/book name) of Mahabharat, other than the version from MTV? I mean the version in which Krishna is human, not a god. I tried explaining Bhimsen to my colleagues, none of them are willing to accept this as a valid version. I tried explaining them about how various people have contributed to this epic over a period of time, but to no avail. If you can share the details, that would be of great help. Thanks.

    • Muthu Kumar

      The original Mahabharata version was called Jaya – written by Vyasa. In this version, Krishna is only a human, a prince who has a stake in the Pandavas ruling Hastinapura. This version was later expanded with lots of addition to make it into what we today call the Mahabharata.

      you can search the net for Jaya – I don’t know if you can get a version to download though.

      • Kalki, Thanks a lot for the clarifications. I searched in google and I could find only the version which has Krishna as god. Prem has also answered the remaining questions I had.

    • To add to what Kalki said, Muthu, Jaya does not exist in any form today — that version has been unfortunately lost to the ravages of time, and only scraps remain tucked into various other historical/mythological tracts.

      A comment field is too brief to be able to detail the evolution of the epic, but briefly, the core is Jaya, which had an estimated 18,000 verses and told the story of internecine conflict between two branches of a family. This is version believed to have been dictated to Ganesha by Vyasa. It then expanded into 24,000 verses in the Vaisampayana version. There are no milestones identifiable abut how it continued to grow, but it finally ended up as the epic we know it today, with a tick over 90,000 verses. Between the second and third version, it also changed character from a story of cousins at war, into a larger religious tract that among other things moved Krishna from the periphery to the center.

      And of course I have no issues about you sharing the PDF — the more the merrier. I have no plans of bringing this out as a book, though.

  2. Its interesting to watch BCCI function. It issues show cause notice to Lalit Modi, to errant cricketers and yet invariably fails to address the core issues every single time. As the latin phrase “who will guard the guards”?
    Isn’t there any way to break BCCI’s monopoly on cricket for only a competitive market is an efficient market.

  3. Prem, on a slightly more cricketing note, I was thinking how many pressure games India lost by choosing to field first. Not just this tournament, even in the World Cups:
    ’07 – against Sri Lanka
    ’03 – finals
    ’99 – the must-win super-six game against Australia
    ’96 – semis

    Well, even the ’87 World Cup, India chose to field in the semis. Admittedly the ’07 game against Sri Lanka came on the back of batting first and losing against Bangladesh, but it still adds to the theory.

  4. Any guesses on the length of BCCI’s reply?

    Two options:

    – A one page reply: “Having gone through all the documents and examined evidences from our sources, we find you guily on the following charges: ….. Hence you are dismissed from the post of IPL commissioner”. (thats all, no questions asked, no answers given.)

    – A 24,000 page reply: “Enclosed is the documents that shows your inappropriate actions..” (The underlying message is: We doubled your page count without going throuh your crap. Since you are the man in the fire, you better go through our crap.)

    • LOL ! If they had common-sense, it wud be the former, but I am afraid in a country that likes paperwork and lawyers who are universally out to bill by the hour, it may well be the latter 🙂

      Also Prem, thanks for the clarification.. I must admit, I was confused reading it first

  5. Prem, words are totally your forte. To me you sounded like you admired the guy but good to see your clarification:|!

  6. I am not sure volume is ever to be confused with quality or strength… I truly doubt if the douchebag will get his chairmanship back. By now, I gather, most of the BCCI honchos simply don’t like the guy, and in these matters it is possible to easily find reasons to bury him, especially when he tries the oldest trick to “bury them”, i.e. with the paper work. Prem, I can’t believe you find this old lawyer trick to be either credible or impressive.. Like the old saying, he will get garbage back for all the garbage he has submitted.. Put the fork on Lalit – he is done, and overcooked at this point

    • Dude, my fascination is not to be confused with admiration. 🙂 I’m fascinated by this as I would be with a train wreck — a kind of gruesome fascination, really. And what bemuses me is the way this whole thing is being played out — a private determination already agreed upon, and a public dance staged with much fanfare for the public to consume.

  7. As a matter of technicality, the actual reply was drafted in only 159 pages. The remaining 11841 pages formed the documentary evidence,etc.

    And did you notice in the photos how effortlessly the ‘couriers’ were lifting the cartons? Tried lifting a carton full of paper?

    • 🙂 Yeah, very salman khan, no? Had some first hand experience of what paper weighs during my recent shifting of residence from Bby to Bgl. Very Bollywood, all this

  8. What did the bloody 12000 pages actually contain? To write up such kind of rubbish itself takes hell of a lot of effort. I really do admire Lalit Modi. I dont think we have seen a sports administrator (or crook, for most SAs are crooks) like him nor are we likely to see one like him again. Now Suresh Kalmadi will take cue from LM and shoot off a 20,000 rebuttal to Sports Minister M S Gill on why he should not be sacked as IOA chief. Let us scamper to buy the shares of Paper Companies on Monday 🙂

  9. “note that his reply is roughly the size of Crime and Punishment and Notes from the Underground. Combined.”

    @Prem: You probably meant the Brothers Karmazov instead of Notes From The Underground. NFTU is a rather slim book, about 130 pages. Miserly by Dostoevsky’s standards.

    • I know. But the title is peculiarly apt, don’t you think? 🙂

      Oh by the way, sorry, on a borrowed machine so using a nom de guerre rather than go to the trouble of logging in

  10. Prem,

    I do not share your fascination to the end game of this depressing IPL story. No matter what happens the good guy is not going to win b’coz there is no good guy in this story. This is a story of bunch of thieves who have realized there is no honor among thieves anymore.

    • Exactly ZRahul. This is like those movies where you realize at the end that everyone is crooked & the good guy will never win. I was discussing yesterday with a former classmate that they should get examiners from Calcutta University (where we used to be) to go through the docs since they are used to answer papers with all words & no meaning. Maybe BCCI should retain Dalmiya to fight on their behalf.

  11. He seems to be sure that nobody will read the answers in BCCI. My guess is that he might have written Hindi film stories in those files. It is a old school boy technique. Keep the answer sheet bulky. The examiner, if working after heavy lunch, awards max marks without reading 🙂

    By the way number of carton boxes also are reported by different papers / channels

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