Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pennies from heaven

Pennies from heaven

by Karan Thapar, Hindustan Times

April 09, 2011

I've done a little test to see how right or wrong my views can be, and I'm delighted to tell you that, at least in this one instance, I'm almost spot on. I sent some 50 different people — journalists, politicians, authors, ambassadors, civil servants, doctors, elderly aunts, etc — an sms outlining my response to the way state governments have competed with each other to shower gifts on our World Cup winning cricketers. To my pleasant surprise, almost everyone responded readily, if not also immediately. So, now, I'm pretty confident I know how most people think!

The sms I sent read: "What do you make of this competition to give money or land or houses to the team? I find it questionable if not distasteful. What's your view?"

Three things stand out about the responses I received. First, practically everyone replied. This has rarely happened before. So, clearly, this is a subject that struck a universal chord. Second, not one person defended this gratuitous money-giving. Third, several responded with passion, even anger. I don't recall any replies that suggested mild or lukewarm concurrence.

Let me, therefore, draw a few conclusions. No doubt we all want to acknowledge, applaud and, even, reward our World Cup winning cricketers but doling out cash, land or houses is both morally wrong and demeaning. One of my respondents, not inaptly, compared the outpouring of crores to the way maharajas used to throw gold coins at courtesans. By that token cricketers are today's nautch girls! Others pointed out, again quite justifiably, that this suggests the team was only playing for money.

The second conclusion is possibly more damning. This behaviour betrays our own twisted set of values. Is money the only way of saying thank you? Is it the most meaningful way of doing so? Our chief ministers should think carefully about this. Their gifts reflect their thinking.

The third conclusion is actually a question: whose money did they gift away? Not their own but the tax payers. Yet in a country where hundreds of millions live in miserable poverty — even if you don't want to accept Arjun Sengupta's figure of 77% living on Rs 20 a day or less, you can't dispute this — should we be giving crores to those who already have several, in some cases hundreds? Is that responsible government? And is this how the aam aadmi is best served?

I wish just one of our cricketers had politely declined the cash or, better still, announced he would donate it to charity. Even if the new players could not be expected to do so, what about Sachin or Dhoni or Yuvraj? They don't need this largesse but the respect they would have earned from a polite refusal to accept would have catapulted them to moral stardom. Instead, we've ensured they remain only cricket heroes.

Let me, however, end with a thought that was not part of my sms. If the team deserves Rs1 crore each from the BCCI why should their coach, Gary Kirsten, without whom they all acknowledge they would not have won, get less?

I can think of sound arguments for giving him more. But that did not happen. The only case for giving him half what his team got is either he wasn't very good — but the team dispute that — or the BCCI doesn't believe in generosity to people who aren't Indian.

Once again, that raises a whole set of disturbing questions. But where do we get the answers?

The views expressed by the author are personal

Monday, April 4, 2011

""can we stop treating an indo-pak cricket match as a war?"""

""can we stop treating an indo-pak cricket match as a war?"""

2nd April 2011 is going to go down in history as one of those nights when at 10.40pm the country of india came to a standstill, every eye was on the screen waiting for dhoni to finish off the match. and finish off with style he did. The moment he hit that powerful six, it was as if we had witnessed god come down on earth to hand over the cup to us. and the euphoria after that continues to this day as i writethis from my office desk. To celebrate India;s win, i got a dupatta tri-coloured and wore it throughout the second innings since sachin
got out. I am sure like me, every Indian did as many "totkas" as possible to make india chase down that score. We supported them till the last ball. And today wearing colours of the flag in my dress makes
me feel as proud as i can be.

But, few days ago, i was being hated by everyone who knew me. The reason being, that i was maybe among the few indians who shed few tears when pakistan lost the match against india. Surprised?dont be.
Maybe that is why i am scared enough to write this as to i might just be hated more.. Who knows angry hindu extremists might just find me and kill me on the road..!!?. But as weird as it may sound, and hate me if u want, but i have no qualms in admitting that i like that team, and i like them very much and i want to
express my feelings regarding the much hyped and awaited indo-pak final. Firstly, there is no doubt in admitting that no matter how much one may hate pakistan, their cricket team is a bunch of talented fighters who have proved their mettle more often than not and have been unfortunate enough to be surounded by so much politics n controversy in their country that they have never got their share.

Besides India, if ever i supported any team enough to win this world cup, it was PAKISTAN all along. Because i have never been affected by the we hate pakistan and eevrything related to it mania. Because it is
silly to equate the match to a war wherein it would have been a shame on the nation had we lost to our neighbouring enemy. Our arch-rivals as we all call it. who knows if Sachin was not dropped so many times and Afridi and Misbah had played a better innings, things might have turned around. But yes indian team deserved every bit of the accolades and this cup belonged to us because we did everything right. But let
us not discard a team which has been abused, criticised, not supported by their countrymen, the PCB yet Afridi took it upon him to unite the team and the way they performed in the league matches was simply awesome. They defeated Australians and stayed on top in their group and then defeated West Indians like a cakewalk. All along i was dreading the fact that india shall have to play pak in the semi-finals, because
a part of me wanted to see pak team in the final as well. Yes India should defeat them but atleast let them come into the finals.. Does that make me any less of an Indian? does that mean i did not support India or i should be tagged a deshdrohi? Am i not allowed to just think of it as a game of cricket and not care
whether the pak team comprises of muslims? If a certain Imran Tahir and Hashim Amla or the Pathan brothers can be so well appreciated, then why is it so tough for an indian to come out and say that yes the
pak team is really good? during the semi final, i had no doubt ever that india will and should win and i supported them from my heart. But then when i saw Afridi with red eyes in his dressing room and later
apologising to his country men or seeing his lovely pretty daughters cry for the loss, i could not resist from crying myself. when India won that match, it was as if we had won the final already, in my streets crowds chanted "pak haye haye", gali gali me shor hai pakistan chor hai". And it amazed me to see the intensity with which the indians had treated this match. I was happy india won but i felt that in a country where nothing is going good, maybe cricket is the only uniting factor for the Pakistanis. and that their country should be
proud of these boys for reaching the semi-final , giving their best shot and for playing such amazing cricket as they did last one month.

Sometimes, i wish if we were one country, what an amazing team we would have. With india's batting and Pakistan's bowling attacks, we would have been simply UNBEATABLE. But i am sure not many think of
this and feel a sense of pride and achievement in defeating the Pak team. I could imagine what sorrow it would have brought to their country. I can also imagine what would have happened if we had not
lifted this cup. Because as much as we hate to admit, the two countries are more similar, equally passionate about this game and will remain so. Whatever is happening in the political front, 26/11, etc is a different story altogether. Let us just for a change not hate those 11 players who bleeded and fought as much as any other team and let us just for a change give some appreciation to the Pak team as well. I hope we are mature enough to understand it is a game after all and one has to lose. And India cannot win everytime. Hope someone agrees with me on this.Even if not, i really dont care.. Not expecting anyone to appreciate this article either but had to let my emotions out...