Sporting power in India.

Nazir Hoosein has long been a controversial figure in motorsport circles. The Indian was an FIA steward in F1 for many years and was responsible for some very controversial decisions, notably at Silverstone in 1998 after which he "voluntarily" handed in his steward's licence for a year.

Hoosein, who did much to establish the sport in India, notably with the Himalayan Rally, seemed to live a charmed life thanks to what was perceived as a close association with FIA President Max Mosley, helping him muster the votes of the Asian clubs. This relationship was such that the Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI), of which Hoosein was a founder member, decided to remove him as its delegate to the FIA in 1999, arguing that he was not doing anything to develop Indian motorsport. Hoosein was not about to accept that and, having set up his own federation which he called the Motor Sports Association of India (MAI), managed to get the FIA to recognise the new club, despite the fact that the Indian government continued to support the FMSCI.

In April 2000 the FIA World Council voted to withdraw sporting power from the FMSCI and hand it over to MAI. An appeal was rejected but the Indian government refused to recognise the new club, so the FIA responded by appointing Hoosein as the FIA delegate for China. There was much legal action but eventually the FIA ordered the FMSCI to accept a merger, with Hoosein remaining in his FIA role. In 2005 Hoosein was raised to the rank of FIA Vice-President and a year later was appointed the chief steward of the World Rally Championship, a position he still holds.

The merger of the two clubs, however, was never completed, despite FIA demands for compromise and despite the fact that Vijay Mallya had become the chairmen of both. Mallya was the rising star in India, particularly since he became an F1 team owner late last year.

The FIA had insisted on a deadline of April 2008 for the merger to be completed, but nothing had been done and this week the World Council reversed its decision and restored India's sporting power to the FMSCI. The intention is to have Mallya take over Hoosein's seat on the World Council.

Hoosein is expected to appeal the decision but the FIA Court of Appeal is unlikely to change the verdict.

It is clear in India that Hoosein has fallen from grace in FIA circles. There are some who feel that Hoosein's fate may have been sealed because he decided to vote against Mosley in the recent FIA Extarordinary General Assembly, others argue that he saw that the FIA was going to strip MAI of its powers because of Mallya's rise.

The answer to the question is unclear but, as a student of power politics, Mosley will no doubt be aware of Voltaire's celebrated belief that it is good to sacrifice a subordinate from time to time "pour encourager les autres" (to encourage the others).

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