Cricket Ripples Silly Point
The Men in Blue have done it again, i.e. winning the Cricket World Cup. The first time the Indian team lifted the victory cup was in 1983 at cricket’s mecca—Lord’s. So the cricket’s crowning glory moments revisited the nation after a long period of 28 years under the dexterous Captain “Cool” Dhoni. He deserves kudos for displaying nerves of steel and playing a magnificent knock under tremendous pressure. Naturally, the entire country is ecstatic and so is media, which is still inundated with the news pertaining to the Cricket World Cup. For media is after sensationalism. Sensations generate ratings and ratings generate ads and ads generate more money. No Japan, no Libya, no Ivory Coast, no climate change, no movies, no soap opera, no 2G scam, no 3G scam, no Raja, no Manmohan, not even Bollywood and Poonam Pandey’s dream to go naked on ramp is ruling the roost in the media. How can the media let go this golden opportunity when since World Cup victory Team India is treading the road to riches? Dhoni and his boys got a cheque of about Rs 8.5 crore ($1.9 million) for winning the tournament. Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also announced Rs 1 crore each to all the members of the winning team. The state governments don’t want to be left behind in awarding cash prizes and freebies for the Men in Blue. It is indeed a matter of pride that our players played well and won the World Cup final. But why are the governments, the Railways and the corporates showering such fabulous rewards on them? Especially when viewed from the necessity to allocate the scarce resources for the benefit of the deprived masses. Further, there are many other sports in the country which need to be encouraged. Many players in other sports lack even the basic amenities to compete at the global level. Our dismal performance at the Olympics is ample proof of this. Yet it is noteworthy that the poor Olympians singlehandedly got us medals without sponsors. Therefore, the rewards to Team India, taken together with the proposed tax concessions to the ICC, are highly questionable. Are they poor? Are they war heroes? While gestures of generosity are not surprising in a country where cricket is only next to the air we breathe, they pose a bigger question about our priorities as a nation. The jawans who laid down their lives battling the terrorists in Mumbai not so long ago are greater heroes than the Men in Blue. How many of our Chief Ministers opened up their hearts in recognition of their heroism? Even the families of the Kargil martyrs were not given so much money. What perturbs me immensely is the fact that the winner of The Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration awarded for the highest degree of valour or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy, receives a paltry stipend of Rs 1500 per month, whereas total expenses incurred on an MP per year is a whopping amount of Rs 32,00,000 alone! What a shame!
It is distressing that cricket has become the religion of India, so much so that the word “sports” has become synonymous with cricket. Cricket runs as the life flowing blood through the veins of the multitude. The madness with which it has gripped the ignoramus masses of our country is evident from their complete capitulation to its God-like worship. In fact, cricket has sounded a death knell to the growth of other sports. Traditional Indian games like hockey, kabaddi, kushti have been relegated to a bygone era. Even international sports like tennis, badminton and football have not been shown any mercy despite us being so “West-crazy”. We hail cricket as the be all and end all of all sports. Although I am a big fan of cricket, I feel the rewards announced for the cricketers are unreasonable by any standard. First, it widens the gap between the rich and the poor. Our cricketers are already rich and the huge rewards will only add to their hefty bank balance. What does the World Cup triumph mean to the millions who live below the poverty line? Can it lessen their misery? If the ministers want to show themselves as very benevolent, let them give prizes to the team members from their own pockets which have been filled over the years. But the money these politicians have become custodian of is to be spent where it is required. Why do they forget that courtesy these politicians, we still have more than 20 crore people surviving on bare Rs 20 a day. It is shame that the precious money is being wasted to serve the idiotic cheap political gains. The media should also act responsibly and highlight these anomalies just as they do when they uncover scams. For, this is no less than a scam, distributing taxpayers money to “haves” instead of distributing it to make life a little better for the “have-nots”. Furthermore, what the BCCI has offered to each cricketer is what an engineer, doctor or even a high-ranking army officer will never make in a lifetime. Given this scenario, who would want to pursue a career in study or other sports, when the dominance of cricket is here to stay and non-cricketing heroes go unnoticed and unrewarded?