Who got LBW in IPL?

Another piece from  Shashi Tharoor and I cannot stop but commenting. It is good when he writes pieces like this where he draws on his experience from UN days.It is completely another case when he defends things for the sake of defending them just because he is an Indian politician from the ruling party. Sad to see how politics is so damaging.

So this piece is on guess what? IPL. The same IPL which made him lose his Cabinet position. He points how the media attention has shifted from corruption to IPL:

The Indian media have not had it this good in a long time. After years of corruption scandals, political dramas, and protest marches, this was manna from heaven – a story combining cricket, the national obsession, with vice, the national weakness. India’s 300-plus television news channels have been no better than the print media, devoting almost all of their time to parsing every morsel of information leaked or announced by the police. A country that traditionally grinds to a halt during an exciting cricket match has now been ground into submission by its antithesis – the slow unraveling of illusions about a game that seizes Indians’ imagination like no other.

On his role in IPL all he says is:

Five years ago, I wrote a column about the phenomenal appeal of the IPL and its transformation of cricket in a manner inspired by the televised razzle-dazzle of American sport. India not only livened up a game that was originally invented in staid and decorous Victorian England; it also brought the game into the twenty-first century, complete with rampant commercialization. Two-and-a-half minute “strategic timeouts” now interrupt the flow of the game, allowing advertisers to hawk their wares to hundreds of millions of enthralled viewers.

Is that all?

He points how success of IPL led other countries to follow suit:

The sociologist Ashis Nandy once memorably wrote that “cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British.” Anyone watching the IPL, however, might be tempted to conclude that Twenty20 cricket, the “instant” form of the game, is actually an American game deliberately rediscovered by the Indians.

Other countries have followed suit, with tournaments modeled on the IPL springing up throughout the cricketing world. To keen observers, the IPL represented more than a sports league; it signaled nothing less than the emergence of a new India.

He questions whether the fall of IPL reflects rise of crony capitalism in India? Well, unsurprisingly he does not really agree to the statement:

Weighty minds will probably see the IPL’s tawdry underside as emblematic of post-liberalization India’s crony capitalism and business short-termism. But it is always dangerous to find in sports large metaphors for national decline, so the temptation to view the IPL as symptomatic of everything that is wrong with today’s India must be resisted.

Having initially been seduced by the idea that the IPL showcased the alluring face of a brave new entrepreneurial India, I am reluctant to embrace the opposite view instantly. But there is no doubt that the flaws being exposed daily in the media – cupidity on a colossal, almost suicidal scale, the quest for easy money, the turn to illegality, and the lack of ethical standards at the highest levels – reveal dangerous streaks in our national 

The IPL can continue as sporting entertainment, good for a fun evening with the kids in front of the idiot box. But what it has revealed to Indians about themselves is far less amusing. The call for reform in cricket is really a call for reform in the way India goes about its business. The character flaws laid bare in the IPL must be curbed if India is ever to fulfill its obvious promise and take its place at the front of the world stage in the twenty-first century.

I have nothing much to say except that after being highly involved in IPL he should have known all this. It should not have been a surprise really. The issues of conflict of interest and shady ownership of teams have been known and debated for a long time since IPL started. But then the key guys remained silent then and remain silent now. IPL clearly shows how crony capitalism has manifested in Indian society in many other ways.

The bigger problem as this blog tried to put is politicisation of the game. The guys who run the game are the politicians and their near ones.  The Indian consumer of the game keeps getting LBWed, caught behind, bowled , caught etc but still keeps coming back. The people who run the game take this for granted and nothing much changes. The controversies are just sweeped below the carpet as if nothing has happened. Media gets tired and moves to something else.

What prevents eminent people like Dr Tharoor from calling a spade a spade? What do they have to lose? Do we need euphemism for defending the IPL crisis?

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