IPL – The Con­ve­nient Scape­goat For All of In­dia’s Ills

The Economic Times - - Sports - R Kaushik

Ev­ery year since 2008, like clock­work, the In­dian Premier League ar­rives in the early stages of April. In­evitably, it ar­rives in a blaze of con­tro­versy too, not all of which is of its mak­ing. No crick­et­ing tour­na­ment any­where in the world has po­larised opin­ion like the IPL has, sea­son af­ter sea­son, edi­tion af­ter edi­tion, al­most game af­ter game. There are some who be­lieve the IPL has done more to make cricket the global vil­lage that Mar­shall McLuhan en­vis­aged in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent con­text in the late 1960s than any­thing else. Then, there are oth­ers who lay the blame for all the ills in the world on the ‘cash-rich’ league whose only in­ter­est, we are re­peat­edly in­formed across plat­forms, is to fill the cof­fers of the cricket board, the fran­chises, the spon­sors and, of course, the play­ers them­selves. Sea­son Nine is less than a week old – seems al­most an im­pos­si­bil­ity that, given how much at­ten­tion has been cen­tred around the tour­na­ment – and has al­ready stum­bled from one road­block to an­other, the lat­est com­ing in the shape of the Bom­bay High Court direc­tive which ne­ces­si­tates the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia to re­lo­cate all matches sched­uled in drought-hit Ma­ha­rash­tra af­ter April 30.

The two-judge bench com­pris­ing Jus­tice MS Karnik and Jus­tice VM Kanade heard ar­gu­ments from all par­ties con­cerned, weighed the pros and cons and, al­most cer­tainly, also took pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment into con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore de­cid­ing in its in­fi­nite wis­dom that while the show must go on, it has go on out­side of a state which has been reel­ing un­der se­vere drought in the ab­sence of ad­e­quate rain­fall for the past cou­ple of years.

Why it needed the IPL to high­light the plight of the com­mon man in gen­eral, and the farm­ers in par­tic­u­lar, is the big ques­tion. Should it then be con­strued that, had matches in the IPL not been sched­uled in Mum­bai, Pune and Nag­pur, the sever­ity of the drought and its de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fect on peo­ple would have been swept un­der the car­pet? If that were to have been the case, then some good must be seen to have come out of the IPL, how­ever twisted and warped an ar­gu­ment that might ap­pear to be.

It’s one of the great ironies of the world that wa­ter makes up 71% of the earth’s sur­face, while the other 29% con­sists of con­ti­nents and is­lands – land mass, if you will. To break it down even fur­ther, 96.5% of all of the earth’s wa­ter is con­tained within the oceans as salt wa­ter, while the re­main­ing 3.5%is­fresh­wa­ter­lake­sand­frozen­wa­terin the form of glaciers and po­lar ice caps. And yet, it is wa­ter, that pre­cious com­mod­ity so es­sen­tial for ev­ery­day life, that is at a scar- city be­cause even though the oceans cover 71%oftheearth’ssur­face,they­only­ac­count for 0.02% of the planet’s to­tal mass.

Tempt­ing, as it might be to point to the va­garies of Na­ture as the pri­mary rea­son for droughts es­pe­cially, it will be worth look­ing in­ward­tosee­how­much­we­have­donea­s­peo­ple to har­vest wa­ter of any kind – rain­wa­ter, sea­wa­ter, sewage wa­ter. Have we had the fore­sight ini­tially, and just nor­mal vi­sion with the pas­sage of time, to put pro­cesses in place to ac­count for th­ese sit­u­a­tions? Wa­ter har­vest­ing is cer­tainly no rocket sci­ence; all it re­quire­sisamod­est­longter­min­vest­mentin­read­ily avail­able tech­nol­ogy, an­dade­sire­tomakesure that the most ba­sic of all re­quire­ments­doesn’tbe­come a lux­ury. As a peo­ple, we have sin­gu­larly failed in that en­deav­our. Hence the com­pelling need­tolook­fora­n­oth­er­scape­goat.Wel­come, theIPL. Andthanky­oufor­com­ing.

Sen­si­tiv­ity is as in­te­gral a trait as is sen­si­bil­ity. But again, as a peo­ple, how sen­si­tive are we to the plight of our suf­fer­ing brethren? Does it do us any credit to jump on this IPL band­wagon for per­sonal gains and brownie points, us­ing our own prej­u­dices to fur­ther a cause that is forgotten as soon as ‘vic­tory’ is achieved? The Bom­bay HighCourtrul­ing­has­been­hailedasahuge vic­tory for the peo­ple. I won­der who th­ese peo­ple are. Are they re­ally the ones suf­fer­ing from hav­ing to walk 20 kilo­me­tres for a bucket of wa­ter? Or are they those sit­ting in air-con­di­tioned stu­dios, em­brac­ing a stance of moral con­ve­nience and then mov­ing on to the next ‘juicy’ story that is cer­tain toat­tracteye­balls,boost­TRPsand­haveyou at home reach­ing for the re­mote to man­age rapidly bur­geon­ing deci­bel lev­els?

If the mov­ing out of the IPL matches from Ma­ha­rash­tra im­proves the ground sit­u­a­tion in the state, then there’s noth­ing like that, of course. But will it? Will it re­ally? Is this the ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion, the panacea for the lack of rains and lack of fore­sight, for the lack of pre­pared­ness and for what has to be con­strued as re­mark­able ap­a­thy from the men and women who have been elected pri­mar­ily to look af­ter their con­stituents? How well are the funds that gush into the chief min­is­ter’s re­lief fund utilised to pro­vide short-term suc­cour in the im­me­di­ate present and long-term so­lu­tions given that chang­ing weather pat­terns stem­ming largely from man’s avarice will con­tinue to throw up sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in the fu­ture?

Why is it that we are re­luc­tant to hold our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives an­swer­able?

If the mov­ing out of the IPL im­proves the ground sit­u­a­tion in Ma­ha­rash­tra then there’s noth­ing like that, of course. But will it?

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