Millions spent for Formula 1 Car Race in India where Millions don’t get proper Food – 31 Oct 11

News

It is Monday morning after a weekend on which India’s media had only one focus: the first Formula 1 car race in India on the newly built Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, close to Delhi. It was very big in newspapers and TV channels. The media was full with news about the opening of the track, the race, the international drivers and celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar or Michael Schumacher and the concert of Lady Gaga at the after-party. While Bollywood stars were busy advertising this big event, I and many others were wondering.

It is a big question to me why India agreed on hosting this event. They spent 400 million Dollars on building this race track, the first one in India. They have extended the roads to the track they have made a nice and neat area around it so that drivers, international media and visitors feel good during their stay in India and can get to see greenery, clean roads and a working infrastructure. At the same time however there are people struggling to survive only a few kilometers away. Poverty and a display of luxury and wealth just next to each other. I am not the only one who criticized that. International media wrote about it, Ramona saw it on German TV news online and a friend from Luneburg wrote me that his local newspaper also published articles about this topic. So even though the German driver Sebastian Vettel won the race, German media is not very happy with the race taking place in the middle of India’s poverty.

Now tell me honestly, why did we need to have a race track here in India, in our state Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest states in India? Do we really need to have a circular road on which race cars drive up to 330 kilometers per hour while you cannot even drive 100 on most Indian roads because they are in such a poor state? Do we need such an expensive race track in a country in which 65% of people don’t have a toilet? Do we have to spend billions of Dollars for some days of entertainment for the rich while every minute five poor Indians die of hunger? About half of Indian’s children below five are malnourished. What will this event give them, those who are hungry and in need?

They don’t get anything. On the contrary, farmers of the area, who were forced to sell their land so that the race track could get built, now complain that they were cheated about the price! They got a minimal amount so that rich people could have fun on this weekend.

It is of course something for the rich! The average Indian would not spend the 2500 Rupees, approximately 50 Dollars, for the cheapest ticket to watch cars drive around in circles and pollute the air and in their whole life they won’t earn the $200000 which are being asked and paid for the corporate boxes. I wrote my opinion about car races already some time ago in my diary. Apart from the pollution, there are more reasons to question the sense of such a race in India. Indian people have no connection to this car race. The Indian team called ‘Force India’ has no Indian driver and no Indian mechanic! And those Indians who went to see the race were mostly there because in their circle it is a status symbol to go to such events!

The media, the celebrities, they all express their pride about this event in India, saying that it is a great achievement and that we are now on international level and it would boost the economy. In reality however it only increases the gap in between the rich and the poor. The rich will get richer while the poor don’t have anything from the income that is made.

If you object now and say that our state government will earn with taxes, I have to reply that I doubt the common population will see anything of that money. The chief minister of our state, Mayawati, even granted an exemption of the entertainment tax to the organizers. This exemption was now questioned by the Supreme Court. The Central Government refused an exemption for another 1 Billion Rupees, about 20.5 Million Dollars. The sports minister said he knew he would not get an invitation after this refusal.

Even if they get a bigger amount of money due to taxes however, the money will not help those who are needy. Just recently the U.P. government built a huge park, spending 8 Billion Rupees, about 164.5 Million Dollars. Of course a park is a nice place for picnics and hanging out in beautiful greenery but shouldn’t we first take care of the basic needs of our population? What will this park help those who are hungry? They will stand around the park, begging for someone to help them!

When asked about the controversies of Indian’s poverty and the expenses for the race, the co-owner of the Indian team and billionaire Vijay Mallya answered: “The government is doing all it can to address the need of the poor or the underprivileged people, but India must move on.” Brilliant, don’t you think?

In interviews the international drivers already told how appalled they were from the contrast. Stepping out of their hotel they only had to look 100 meters to the left or to the right to see the poverty of India. They told they had never seen such a contrast of rich and poor.

We all can be sure however that there was none of those poor people at the after-party. I don’t know what the entry to that cost but they published the price for Lady Gaga’s concert. The number of entry tickets was limited to 1000 and each of these 1000 people paid 40000 Rupees, about 800 Dollars.

Everybody enjoys entertainment and wants to have fun. It is fully fine and everybody should enjoy his life. There is however a limit when the amount of money spent for this entertainment looks outrageous next to the hungry and poor lying on the street. Fun is over when you see money wasted while there are no schools, sanitary facilities or hospitals. The billionaires involved in this event should rather think about how they can improve the life of the needy. I would expect them to think of the sake of the children of their own country.

References:

India's inaugural F1 race: speeding past the poor
Formula 1 galas and Lady Gaga: against a backdrop of poverty

Image: Red Bull Racing

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  1. Marina

    I have searched for some information concerning it in Russia’s media. They all say that according to organizers, Car Race had to show that India is in a very good sporting and economic condition so the world can forget about the chaos and corruption in India.Isn’t it funny?
    Actually we experienced the same situation in Moscow in 2009, when Eurovision Song Contest came to our city. Nobody could understand why they wasted a lot of money just to prove or to show that we are also in good condition. According to the source in Internet they have spent about 42 mln $. It was said that the foreign-policy effect was the goal of all this circus.
    And what about our hospitals or school system? O no, of course it is more important to have fun, to demonstrate how cool you are…Who cares about pensioners, corruption and all other problems???

  2. Ines

    Well, why should one be astonished? The world is ruled by Egos and events like this take place in poor countries and rich countries to present the power of as small group of people. It is a presentation of something that is not true. India is a poor country – everybody knows, but the rich who have the power are doing their best to keep small people in small. We can only watch it happening and try to do it better in small things in our life. Or try to get organized as a group to change things. Or try to get kids a good education in heart and mind, so they will be able to change the situation in their country. Just like it is done here in the ashram :).

  3. Markus Henke

    Really no sense….. Even our “Landeszeitung” (newspaper in Lüneburg,Germany) critizised the formula 1 race in india…. millions of dollars for ONE race, but no million for the people ?

  4. Hans-Christian Vom Kolke

    The Sense? Marketing! The growing Rich Class as well as the growing middle class of India are a giant market.Business interests unfortunately neither care for poverty nor inequality.

  5. Manoj Karagudri

    This event reveals the intentions of the Indian Government. May be they want to show the international community about India’s capabilities to conduct international events. May be they are trying to extract international funds by doing this. may be they want to divert the minds of the Indian youngsters. may be they are promoting travel and tourism by doing this to improve Indian economy inflow. Anyways it is wrong thing to do. Anyways this is just an unnecessary show off expenditure on destructive entertainment.

  6. Tahnee Fairbourn

    I couldn’t agree more…what sense is that??? I do wonder though…do they ever have charity races, and if so…does the money actually get to the charity they are sponsoring?

  7. Sabine Schuchmann

    its like in the ancient Rome: bread and games …

  8. Deniz Tekiner

    Yes, like bread and circus pop culture in the US too, where for instance 100s of millions are spent on making awful movies every year while 10s of millions go without jobs and health care.

  9. Iris Wellhausen

    Even here in Germany millions have been invested into Fomula 1 race tracks with the expectations of jobs and positive effects on local business. But, in fact, these expectations were never fulfilled. Only the companies who are involved in this “circus” earn a lot and Bernie Ecclestone decides where the races take place. So it can happen that a new track will be left after some years..

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