Shobha De has a point when she said that F1 also needed India! Quite a statement and a sweeping one. A statement like this might not go down well with most of us who have loathed India of the infamous Commonwealth fiasco; who have branded F1 as an ‘exclusive’ sport; who blame authorities for not promoting other sports as much. We have become so good at whipping apart our own credit that we fail to understand that Bernie Eccliston, CEO Formula One management will not do charity. He is a hardcore businessman and can see moolah in India.      

No doubt Formula One is an elite sport and is expensive just like photography is an expensive hobby and hosting such International events will elevate Indian brand. David Aaker , Professor emeritus at Haas Business School, University of California, Berkely , also supports  this theory that hosting  global events  like G20 ,Commonwealth Games and Formula One works beyond doubt in nation branding building . I agree with this totally. But keeping in view some great global acquisitions by Indian companies, IT leadership, huge infrastructure investments India is no doubt modeling the frameworks of world economy. Certainly Bernie Eccliston saw great opportunity in India amidst the economic slowdown in Europe. In 2007, there were several changes brought to the game like making the races shorter as reported by BBC U. Formula One chief’s wanted some excitement so they made races shorter. Adding to the fury was Michael Schumacher’s announcement s on his retirement; F1 GP ought to change something and that was the attitude towards countries like India, Malaysia and Singapore. At SingTel Singapore Grand Prix in 2010, Singapore authorities leveraged the high adrenaline atmosphere by starting the night race. As a result, millions of footfalls and a revived tourism opportunity. But more than that F1 got its night race exclusivity and an offer from Thailand to host F1.Surprisingly it also caught excitement back and with around 110,000 tickets fully sold out.* There got to be a reason why last year Formula One chose Singapore and this year India. Bernie Eccliston could not help exclaim “Great Job” when he saw Buddh International Circuit set up in Noida, North of India. According to Shobha De on her latest article Buddh International Circuit with 16 corners, 60 laps and astronomical 315KPH is already quite a rockstar.

Think people think!! Read the unobvious !!


16 thoughts on “How brand India helped brand F1

  1. Its true,mainly because F1 has been on an decline in the south american and European countries ,the erstwhile home of the sport…but its a gain fr us, so no cribbing (

  2. Well said..I think by setting up Budhh International Circuit, India has put one step forward in the International diaspora. It’s a great initiative and well appreciated by many.

  3. Hey Deepali, very well written piece! Kudos!

    However, if I may contribute a few thoughts, to further this discussion, here are a few reasons I find F1 coming to India just another obscene example of capitalist self-centeredness.

    Sure F1 needed India. But the point is – does India need F1?? Why just F1, every one in the western world is clamouring for a piece of the Indo-Chinese pie. The onus is on us to select the investments we deem to be most benefiting the larger Indian economy (and not just the microcosm of ‘Shining India’). No doubt, Bernie Eccliston is a hard core businessman. Are we savy enough in ensuring that the profits of this investment do not go into the pockets of just a few who are already so rich they probably dont even know it?

    I have nothing against F1 coming to India. But we have to look at it in the context of the country that is India.

    Ofcourse it helps reinforce our standing in the modern world. It does help development of infrastructure, promote the local economy, attract tourism, and give us something other than cricket to swoon over.

    But we also have to realize that we still have 40% of the worlds malnourished children. We still rank 134th among 187 countries in the UN.s Human Development Index (it assess countries’ long term progress on health, education and income indicators), The average life expectancy is only 65 years, and we have regional poverty which is more than some Asian as well as sub-saharan African countries (eg Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, Cambodia, Rwanda, Pakistan etc) and as a nation we rank 65th on the Global Hunger Index (0 being no hunger, and 100 being the worst).

    A recent World Bank paper on new global poverty estimates praises India’s efforts in bringing down poverty over the years, but it also warns of the dangers of excluding the poor from its growth story, to quote the paper, “To achieve a higher rate of poverty reduction, India will need to address the inequalities in opportunities that impede poor people from participating in the growth process.”

    While the Grand Prix has also been organized in China, apart from Singapore and Thailand (which incidentally happen to be high or middle income countries), India’s and China’s models of development have been different. When we have critcised China’s ‘islands of development’, why are we falling prey to the same phenomenon?

    Brand India has definitely grown over the last decade. But lets not forget the other less glamorous face of India. Like they say for conservation of trees – for every tree you cut, you should plant another two. Similarly, for every F1 race or other such high glam money guzzlers, we need something that would benefit the people of the heartland, the mango people.

    Coming from a state like Madhya Pradesh, I just cant justify such kind of spending on entertainment a few hundred kilometers away, when there are children dying from hunger in my state.

    And yeah, I am a socialist at heart!

    1. Pallavi, loved your reply and contribution. I totally undertsnad your POV. Certainly the disparity in two India’s is something that government cant justify.Bread and butter issues are dying for government’s attention.All the points in your post are begging for addressal and without which India cannot progress.

      If we really have to move forward (like you mentioned our poverty rates have reduced and now a recent study that we have also lowered our world bank loans by 2%), the states have to mordenize with Indian society.Madhya Pradesh ,our state is still grappling with povery, ostracisizing of low caste people, oppurtunitues and also Madhyanah Khana programs.

      But what has been phenomenal in India’s growth is its path.Rather than adopting other Asian countries startegy like -export labour-intensive products to west—–India counts on its domestic markets, consumption more than investment, sevices more than industry.This means that India is insulated from some global downturns.As a result India is just a bit more stable.The Gini index that measures income inequality on a scale od 0-100 had India on 33 in the past as compared to other developed counties and also China struggling at over 40’s score). I think we are getting there..but yes miles to go!! But yes yeah you are socialist and stay that way!! love it!
      Remember stay hungry,stay foolish!

  4. Interesting article and Interesting response. I agree there are things that need to be fixed in India and the growth is spotty. What is happening is unplanned growth.

    It will ultimately lead to social strife and class disparity.Rich will be super rich and poor ..extremly poor. Thats my two cents.

    1. Anand, yes the devide is wide but Rome was not built in a day. Your two cents is worth millions! Thanks for your contribution.It redirected my post to a totally different level! same for the other contributors on this post, they elevated the standard of this post! Thankyou all!

  5. Hey Deeps, Good one again :). I also so agree with Pallavi and Anand…We already have a huge divide in India…one very rich and one very poor…

    Things like these are highlighted so much as “India finally arriving” ..that the true changes needed are once again put on back burner..

    We need these events but we also need to make sure that progress is for all …not just for elite… ” Buddh International Circuit” may be amazing….just drive a few Km around and you will see a face of India which will sadden you equally amazingly.

    1. Hey Geets, Thanks for dropping by. I really dont contest you, Pallavi and Anand.We definitely have a long way to go in term of development and economic model…
      What was concerning was when I saw International articles on how India is gaining and no, actually its the other way round! If we pay heed to the business part of the whole event, then F1 has gained hugely…
      Other things remaining the same…infrstaructure, economics, agriculture and now even education…every things needs a fix!!

  6. Deepali, you’re right! F1 is truly a gainer out there! They are ensuring their continuity by riding the waves. For us, lets be proud of the second coming of India, and in our own small ways spread the blessings around 🙂

  7. Hey, I have only one thing to say that the western countries need India today as much as India does or even more. We should not become hunting grounds for them. Let them make money out of India, provided some of it comes back to India, and by this I definitely do not mean any addition that is made to the coffers of Indian politicians.

    On a personal note it is a beautiful and informative piece. So proud of you.

  8. My dearie I frequently read ur blog….
    I knw u are very articulative…boss BOW to the way you express your thoughts and I m in love with the way you pen down your thoughts…
    ROYAL SALUTE to you 🙂

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