Stretching the limits
January 20, 2010 2 Comments
Curtains have been lifted on the coveted cricket carnival, The Indian Premier League and even before the cricketing action could begin, almost immediately, we have a controversy. Self-anointed moralists are crying foul about the rejection of the Pakistani players in the auctions.
News channels had a field day with franchisee owners hopping from one channel to another saying the same thing ; Broadcasters vying with one another to take a moralistic high ground on how this would be sending “negative signals” to Pakistan and how “civil society” ought to take the lead in normalizing relationship between India and Pakistan.
Excuse me, but I don’t understand what the fuss is all about !
There were around 11 positions to be filled in various teams and the approved list had 66 players. In any case a player had 1/6th of a chance of being recruited. So what if all the Pakistani players were rejected ? What is the big deal ?
I have no doubts about the abilities of some of the Pakistani players atleast, Afridi, Gul and the Akmals but to argue for their inclusion based on some pedantic excuse of Indo-Pak relationship is highly irresponsible.
There is no disagreeing that on pure cricketing skills Afridi, Gul and Akmals deserve to be “bought” but what the heck, who believes that IPL is about cricket. It is an exceptionally conceived business model using cricket just as a dog would use a lamp-post to make more riches for the BCCI. Name one IPL player who has gone on to make it very big in the world of cricket ?
Where big bucks are involved, it is natural that “Return on Investment” becomes the prime criteria for any businessman. IPL teams owned by savvy business leaders and movie stars are not in the mood for any charity nor do they have to carry the “cross “ of brokering peace between India and Pakistan.
Ayaz Memon, of all the people, was trying hard to hide his “fundamentalist views” passionately argued as to why Pakistani players had to be “insulted” and how it would have been better to exclude them altogether.
Ayaz Memon in my view is the least qualified to say so. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Ayaz was one of those who sided with the rebel league, The ICL, which now lies buried. Ayaz was quite vociferous about having a parallel organization to clip the growing clout of the BCCI. After the unceremonious winding up of the ICL, Ayaz is now trying to get back to main stage of Indian cricket.
And what is wrong about “insulting” Pakistanis ? Haven’t they insulted us before ? Why is that these self-anointed moralists believe that India has to be a symbol of magnanimity every time we deal with Pakistan ? Is it because India is a huge robust country with a booming economy and dollars to spare ? Well, if it is so, we are also the second most populous nation in the world and surely we can “afford” as many lives as the Pakistani terrorists want, isn’t it ?
Shame on you Ayaz Memon !
Yet another moralist argued that it is wrong for cricket and politics to mix, as if they don’t in other spheres of life. Avoiding politics in sports or leaving sports administration to sportsmen themselves is different from sports not having political overtures.
Where were Ayaz Memon, Sharda Ugra and Co when US boycotted 1980 Olympics or when Jesse Owens snubbed Hitler in the Munich Oympics ?
Where were these champions of righteousness when Imran Khan wanted the Kashmir issue “decided” over a “cricket match” with a winner keeps it all prize ?
Where were these moralists when former PM Vajpayee exhorted Saurav Ganguly and his men to also win the hearts of the people of Pakistan in their tour ?
Sports is not played in vacuum ; It cannot be insulated from the political developments happening around it. At the height of the Kargil conflict, let me ask these moralists, how appropriate it would have been for India to be playing Pakistan ? And was Pakistan touring us in 1971 when East Pakistan was dismembered to create Bangladesh ?
The “Yes/No Queen” of News Analytics , Sagarika Ghosh of CNN-IBN, went one step further and asked whether the Indian civil society was “ostracizing” Pakistanis ? Actually I thought that the question should be whether Pakistani’s “deserve” to be “ostracized” to which my answer would be an emphatic Yes.
And pray how a motley group of businessmen and downhill actors represent the “civil society” of India ? Come on can we get serious ?
IPL is and will always remain a business venture or an indulgence. It is a heady cocktail of some cricket mixed with loads of money, glamour and politics. To expect anything else from a cricketing league is stretching the limits of morality, diplomacy and nauseating political correctness.
If a match of 40 overs is the only option to broker peace between India and Pakistan, the IPL may very well be renamed as the Indian Peace League !!!