Congress for Cricket
December 8, 2009 2 Comments
India has finally done it.
India is the Number One Test Team in the world, a title, it seems they will hold at least for now. This note however is not to gloat over India’s achievement but to point out the startling similarities between BCCI and India’s grand old political party, the Congress.
Before that, a brief note on India’s cricketing riches. Cricket always was the most popular sport in India but the advertising boom and the Television rights made a big difference to the revenue generating potential in India.
If anyone had spoken of an exclusive channel for cricket a decade ago the person would have been scoffed at. But today that is a reality, Star Cricket, an exclusive 24 hour channel for cricket.
It is not too difficult to realize why India is the cricket world’s superpower in terms of money. Sample this : The ongoing Australia-West Indies series is fully sponsored by Indian Companies.
Here is a series which does not involve India, does not guarantee quality cricket and the result almost a foregone conclusion. Not to forget the odd viewing hours given the time differences. But still Indian advertisers have taken spots on the channel with the clear knowledge that cricket nerds from India would take up the trouble of watching.
With the power of it’s coffers, BCCI is now able to dictate terms to ICC if not on anything atleast on the FTP, the Future Tours Program. India remains the most popular team on demand for any cricketing nation. Not only in terms of advertising or television revenues but also in terms of gate collections. There are only 3 nations in the world which does not inhabit Indians. In countries like UK, the support for Indian team at places such as Old Trafford could be more than even for the local team. All this means that India will have busy years ahead of them.
There is however a shift in the priorities with Test Cricket ranking below T20 and ODIs. . There was a time when the staple diet of Indian Cricket used to be Test Cricket but not any more. A 2 test series against minnows Bangladesh apart, India will not be playing Test Cricket. This gives them very less chance of holding on to their No. 1 title for too long. But who is complaining as long as BCCI can laugh all the way to the Bank.
India’s ascension to the top of the Test charts has every bit of congress-ism in it. India has not won a series in Australia or South Africa, the only 2 nations to have ever been the number one team ever since the rankings started but they have still managed to be number 1. If this isn’t every bit a Congress trait what is ?
Check this out for the comparison
a) India has cleverly managed to avoid taking on Australia or South Africa and have yet managed to be Number 1 team in the world. Just as Congress avoids resolving all the pressing issues before the nation – terrorism, population increase, naxalism, illiteracy, poverty – and yet hold on to power for over 5 decades just on the pretext of keeping “communal” forces at bay.
b) BCCI operates every bit like how 10, Janpath works. Like Queen Bee Sonia controls the UPA without actually being a part of it, the ICC kowtows to the diktats of the BCCI. So if India wants more T20s and ODIs so be it. If you want a separate window for IPL, so be it.
c) The factionalism in BCCI is legendary. Pawar versus Dalmia, Modi versus Srinivasan, North versus South, West versus East have all dominated BCCI now for decades. The factionalism is a stark reminder of the legacy of Congress and it’s sycophancy
d) The abbreviation of BCCI itself, I argue, steeply rooted in the culture of congress. Let me explain. While other cricketing nations have gone ahead and shortened their abbreviations to put “Cricket” and “Nation” ahead of everything, the BCCI has stuck to it’s original name. Australian Cricket Board became CA – Cricket Australia ; The English TCCB – Test and Country Cricket Board has simply become ECB – England & Wales Cricket Board reflecting the prominence to Cricket. BCCI in typical Congress culture puts “Board” and “Control” ahead of everything else. Just as it is the duty of every Congress worker to keep propping up their “High Command” and repeat the mantra of “High Command will decide”, the BCCI is very clear that it is not here to promote cricket or the nation but it is there to promote it’s “control” over the game in India.
e) The selection procedure of BCCI again is a throwback to the methods of Congress selecting it’s candidates for the election fray. ‘Godfathers’ have a great role both in BCCI and the Congress. And one must not forget that Jimmy Amarnath’s famous ‘bunch of jokers’ comment on the selection committee can be equally applied to the Congress CWC as well.
f) BCCI has yet another famous trait that it shares with the Congress, the culture of Committees. Almost every captain of the visiting country has lamented about the poor quality of the ‘dust bowls’ that pass off as “pitche” in India. So what does the BCCI do ? It just appoints a Pitches Committee, a la Congress. Now this Pitch Committee has been in existence for the better part of a decade but have the quality of the Indian pitches moved atleast a notch ? Nope. And that’s where the similarities between BCCI and Congress begin.
g) BCCI unarguably is the richest sporting body in the world but Indian domestic cricketers are among the poorest. Congress often claims to have “opened up the economy” whatever that means but we are worse off than a Zimbabwe in terms of malnutrition and poverty. Instead of using the bloating forex reserves to improve quality of life, we are busy launching missions to moon while one-thirds of Indians defecate in the open. I don’t think on the plank of “misguided priorities” there is anything to choose between BCCI and the Congress.
h) Both BCCI and Congress have mastered the art of “quelling” opposition. The poverty of the ex-cricketers who missed the riches prompted the creation of the now-failed parallel league the ICL. So what does BCCI do ? It takes the concept of “city league” and uses it’s money power to create a bigger, bolder and richer concept leaving the original league gasping for survival. Congress quelled the “India Shining” campaign of the BJP but launching it’s own NREGA which promises 100 days of employment for the rural poor with a “princely salary” of Rs. 100 per day. Ofcourse on the implementation, one has to admit that BCCI stands tall over the Congress.
India’s ascend to the top is just another feather in the BCCI cap of how well it is handling the game in India just as the Liberhan Report is a standing proof for Congress’s secularist credentials.
So if Cricket in India is ‘Caught and Bowled’ BCCI, the hapless Indian remains ‘caught 24 Akbar Road bowled 10 Janpath’