Brand India is getting affected by bureaucratic hurdles: Karun

PTI| Updated: Oct 24, 2013, 16:47 PM IST

Greater Noida: The bureaucratic hurdles and the legal formalities, which played a part in the scrapping of the 2014 edition of the Indian Grand Prix, have affected the "brand India", ace driver Karun Chandhok lamented on Thursday.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had cited `political` problems in conducting the race in India and eventually it was dropped from the calendar and now faces an uncertain future.

The government does not recognise F1 as a sport and the promoters JPSI conduct the race on their own. The state government recently withdrew the exemption on entertainment tax and today a PIL was filed to put a stay on the conduct of the race.

Chandhok, who is only the second driver from India to make it to the F1 grade, said all these hurdles put together give a bad name to the country.

"All of this (is frustrating). We are used to stay orders, PILs but not these people. So what they are going to write. How we are going to attract investment. The international media is going write all these things. It does not help, I think brand India is getting affected. People should not underestimate the power of F1 and power of sport," Chandhok said.

"For the teams and drivers it is a big headache to reach here. They have to make a separate contract because of taxation laws and the paper work involved. You need to have an extra lawyer for the Indian GP. The bureaucratic process is so big and it should not be.

"At the end of the day, F1 is still not classified as a sport even though Jaypee have invested all the money with no cost to the government. I understand India has big socio-economic issues but there are things like we have 700 journalists coming here and I had at least 75 of them mailing me they could not get visa in time. These are people who are going to other parts of the country and write about our country," he said.

"And the first story would be how difficult to get into our country. I think, F1 does bring a lot of attention to India and particularly this part of the country. For some reasons, government is not acknowledging how much good attention this can do for brand India," Chandhok said.
Chandhok, who now races in World Endurance championship, said the government must come forward to help in retaining the race in the country.

"We can promote brand India, I don`t know how the government does not see the positives. They just have to support. Everything is ready, few duty exemptions, less bureaucratic hurdles," he said.

The young driver was of the view that India can attract big investments in the country as all big corporates assemble at the time of race but hurdles like this puts them off.

"Look at the companies in the pitlane, you have airlines, companies like Blackberry, Shell, huge multi-billion conglomerates. So all the CEOs who are here, they will think about these difficulties, they will discuss if we should open a factory here and employee 4000 people.

"Everywhere in the world, the race gets support from the government. I am not saying that they pay the fee, may be they can do a partnership, In this case, they are not helping the process."

Chandhok also said that it was a pity that no Indian is on the grid this year and Force India cannot be accepted as Indian team unless it has a driver from the country.

"It`s a shame there is no Indian this time. No local interest. Will you have a bigger interest when India and Australia are playing or when England and Australia are playing? Force India is still struggle in getting accepted as Indian team. You need an Indian face," he said.