Omertà is a cultural expression that places legitimate importance on a deep-rooted family sense of a code of silence, non-aggravation with authorities, and non-interference in the legal actions of others.
It originated and remains common in Corsica and Southern Sicily. Retaliation against informers is common in criminal circles, where informers are known as “rats” or “snitches”. When Lalit Modi ‘snitched’ against Shashi Tharoor he effectively became persona non grata for the Indian cricket establishment, for he had broken the code.
Bollywood stars, flamboyant corporate moguls and million-dollar cricketers. Lalit Modi was to be the Kerry Packer of Indian cricket. He was supposed to be the tycoon who changed cricket forever. During his peak as a cricket administrator, like the decadent Roman Emperor Caligula, he brought in boatloads of cash, celebrity cheerleaders and corruption into the Indian cricketing scene. And then he escaped like a Bond villain to the scenic locales of Montenegro, taunting his erstwhile friends and making new enemies, all while sipping on expensive wine and uploading pictures on Instagram. What the Lalit Modi saga has inadvertently exposed is the rot which has set <g data-gr-id="35" style="color: #3b3b3b; font-size: 11px;">into </g>the game of cricket. Cricket in India is a multi-million dollar business. It is where the undivided attention of a country starved of genuine sporting heroes converges.
Given this cricket in India has intricate ties to political and private interests. This in the post-liberalisation era with television and sponsorship money aplenty, meant rich opportunities for corruption. Most deals and decisions took place behind closed doors. This allowed corruption to go unchecked and unpunished, sometimes in a blatant manner. Lalit Modi allegedly used complex techniques to launder money. These included cross-border transfers, tax havens and front companies.
In economics, a cartel is an agreement between competing firms to control prices or exclude entry of a new competitor in a market. It is a formal organisation of sellers or buyers that agree to fix selling prices, purchase prices, or reduce production using a variety of tactics. This if one thinks about it, is an apt description of cricket administration in India. The fact that even after Lalit Modi left the shores of India, allegedly aided by a sympathetic Sushma Swaraj is probably irrelevant in the context of cricket. What is more revealing is the fact that cricket in India remains a doggedly non-transparent venture. One only needs to look back at the spot-fixing scandal which rocked Indian cricket last year and almost took down N.Srinivasan.
The operative word being almost because N.Srinivasan by and large remains unscathed despite all the hullabaloo surrounding him. Meanwhile yesterday Sharad Pawar beat Vijay Patil by 34 votes to retain the Mumbai Cricket Association president’s post. The Pawar-Mahaddalkar panel has also swept the biennial polls, winning 15 of the 17 managing committee posts. A few years after Lalit Modi left India, the pall bearers of Indian cricket remain the same. It seems the Omerta has not been broken and it never will be. Lalit Modi or no Lalit Modi, the BCCI remains a cosy gated community of politicians and business magnates. Outsiders are strictly not allowed.