15 April 2008
Is India ready for the IPL? Shweta Bhatnagar, JWT Planning, Delhi
A lot has been said about cricket and its importance in India… but it can never be said enough. The one passion that unites the country, the one love that takes all of us on a roller coaster of emotions, the one religion that makes each Indian, as temporary as it maybe, come together in its beliefs. And where a national anthem before a movie, and sometimes even Independence Day, fail to raise the sense of patriotism one would like to see, cricket is able to bring it alive in almost all of us!
So one cannot deny that in a cricket fanatic country like ours, sports and politics definitely cross paths. The current debate on whether India should withdraw from the Beijing Olympics owing its stand on the Tibet issue is a prime example of this. And let’s face it! How many times have we seen political acrimony spill over during a Pakistan / India match? When Pakistan lost in the T20 world cup they had to go under cover with their families in their own nation. Whether this should, or should not be, is a separate question. But like it or not, the two are inseparable.
So lets take a quick glance at what’s happening in both these fields right now.
The latest on the block is IPL… a great new concept. The gods of our one common religion got bidden for. And the country watched in anticipation. It was a strange but mixed feeling. Put a price tag on Sachin? Who would have thought! But how does that affect me? What does affect me, however, is what will all this lead up to? A cricket match! And hey! That’s always welcomed isn’t it?
And then, lets see the recent mob violence the country saw. Mumbaikars against north Indians. A relatively newer definition of communalism that at least the current generation may not have seen before. We’ve seen religion against religion, a political party against the other, public against the government, terrorists against the public… but region against another region? Beyond just water / electricity disputes? Beyond the murmured stereotypes plaguing each state that may go around many corridors? They first time gathered enough momentum to be so loud as to gather a mob!
And herein lies my question. Isn’t IPL only going to fuel this further? We know pride doesn’t come in a bigger size than when it comes for one’s team. But unfortunately, this time its not for India. Its delhi vs. Mumbai vs. Hyderabad vs. Bangalore vs. ... the list will only increase.
Saurav Ganguly has always been known as the Bengal tiger, but did a non-bengali ever love him any less? How many of us, across the country would say they love Sachin because he is marathi, or because he’s done me and the nation proud, irrespective of where he’s from?
I do not say that IPL was designed to fuel this divide, but from the look of it, does it not seem axiomatic? In a sensitive nation like ours where one radio jockey’s lose comment can anger the whole north-east community, are we ready to handle IPL in a mature manner?
When the similar concept gained enough momentum in England in the late 70s-80s for football, the violence it led to cost many lives, places burnt down, and the emergence of a term called football hooliganism, where each team had a group of supporters ready to kill the others at each win and each loss. Can we really safely say we won’t face a similar situation with IPL gaining force?
As the British contemporary writer Alan Sillitoe once wrote "sport is a means of keeping the national spirit alive during a time of so-called peace. It prepares the national spirit for the eventuality of war".
I ask you to replace ‘national’ in that quote with ‘regional’ once… and tell me what picture you see… Can India handle the IPL :Feast for sport lovers or setting for regional rift
See Jitender Dabas' reply and continue the debate...Voice your views on our comments
at 6:08 PM