Monday, 27 May 2013

IPL: A league of extraordinarily corrupt gentlemen

By Sapan Kapoor, The Express Tribune, Published: May 27, 2013
Players are fixed, umpires are fixed, team owners are fixed, and perchance the whole Indian Premier League (IPL) has been fixed and compromised by vested interests out to subvert the beautiful game of cricket. 

The world has come to know of appalling corruption involving the arrest of three Indian players and a franchise owner in alleged spot-fixing and wagering. If this was not enough, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has withdrawn Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf from the upcoming Champions Trophy for his alleged involvement in spot-fixing and betting being probed by the Mumbai police. Rauf abruptly left India earlier this week, forever.

In all this, the biggest losers have been those millions of naive cricket fans all around the world who blindly followed the IPL, cheered every six and four hit by their favourite batsman, every wicket taken by their team, who jeered at every dropped catch and tweeted every grotesque incident taking place on the field.
At the time of writing this blog, approximately more than six million tweets pertaining to the IPL have been counted. Alas, those credulous fans took it all for real.

The eyes of Adam Gilchrist must have shined with delight when he saw that loose short-pitch delivery by Sreesanth coming his way in Mohali. The Aussie veteran crisply dispatched it to the boundary without knowing that it was fixed. The former Indian test player had agreed to a bookie to yield more than 13 runs in that over for Rs4 million (Indian currency).

My mind today also dwells upon those several dubious decisions given by the umpire Asad Rauf in the IPL. Those questionable leg before wicket (LBW) decisions by Rauf could have been corrected by the third umpire had the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) been in place in the league. But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not in favour of using the system — why?

Why is the BCCI so vehemently against a system which aims to add transparency to the game?
Millions of cricket lovers and followers in India and the world at large were at their wits end at this stand taken by the BCCI on the UDRS. Now, the answer they have been seeking to this riveting question is obvious.

Apparently, the BCCI headed by N Srinivasan, whose son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan has been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing and betting in the IPL, did not want transparency in the game.

In these times when umpires can be manipulated and bought to spot-fix matches, the UDRS would have worked as a deterrent to such corrupt practices. Those in the business of fixing realised this fact and ergo, opposed it. What other reason could be behind the BCCI’s opposition to it?

With the arrest of Meiyappan, the BCCI chief’s position has become untenable. He shall find it difficult to distance himself from the alleged misdeeds of his son-in-law and also some of the dubious decisions he has taken during his tenure. For instance, he subverted the BCCI’s constitution, in connivance with others, to allow his firm India Cement to buy Chennai Super Kings and thus indulged in open conflict of interest. It has also cast a shadow of doubt over Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was recently named as the vice-president of India Cement.

Maybe Dhoni was not aware of all this whilst sharing team strategies with Meiyappan who allegedly used it for wagering and to fix matches. However, Dhoni’s close association with Meiyappan and Srinivasan has left him on a sticky wicket. Dhoni will have to come clean on this and the captain should know his silence is not helping his cause.

Moreover, if Delhi and Mumbai police are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. More players and teams are going to be exposed. We can expect some explosive revelations in the coming days.
With more and more pressure mounting on Srinivasan, ultimately he will have to go. But will that solve the grave issues that Indian cricket faces today?

There’s something seriously rotten in the BCCI and it all starts from the top.
When the top leadership of any organisation itself stands compromised, these kinds of things are bound to happen. The need of the hour today is to completely clean up the body and any effort to brush things under the carpet would only further damage Indian cricket.

The biggest challenge before the BCCI, however, is to win back the confidence of cricket lovers who feel cheated and duped today. Needless to say it’s not going to be an easy task, for the trust once lost is hard to regain.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Our people have gone mad

Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay assaulted by a cashiered Indian soldier in Jammu's Kot Balwal jail Friday, a day after Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh breathed his last in Lahore, is dead.  52-year-old Sanaullah, who was in deep coma and on life-support system, died in a hospital in Chandigarh this morning.

In an apparent retaliation to the death of Sarabjit Singh, who had been savagely beaten to sodden pulp by his fellow jail inmates a week before, Sanaullah was attacked by a brick by Vinod Kumar, an Indian Army man sentenced to life in a murder case by a military court of inquiry in Leh. Sanaullah was arrested in 1999 in connection with five cases related to terror activities.

My heart goes out to the family of Sanaullah. For their plight is no different from the agony of Sarabjit’s family. Like Sarabjit, Sanaullah is also someone’s father, brother, and son. His life and death makes a huge difference to his loved ones. 

Alack, yet another poor, wretched man has been crucified on the cross of lethal Indo-Pak rivalry. Yet another miserable fellow, notwithstanding his terror background, has been made a scapegoat to gratify India and Pakistan’s inflated egos.  But, what we don’t understand is that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. We’ve no right to play with the life of someone to gratify our insatiable craving for blood. Sarabjit's extra-judicial killing has stirred passions in India. But, that does not justify the retaliatory attack on Sanaullah.

For this ‘khoon ka badla khoon’ or ‘tit-for-tat’ proclivity will only lead us to the abyss of dark ages, extrication from which will be impossible. In that chasm there’s darkness, there are the burning fires of hell, there’s the burning and scorching of the flesh; there’s foul smell. Our thirst for human blood and depravity are disgusting; yes disgusting. It’s despicable. This shameful state of affairs itself calls for an immediate remedy.  But then this kind of barbaric savagery and sadistic disposition is not alien to Indians and Pakistanis. It has been an integral part of our tribal society for ages.

When I think of these recent horrific incidents in our prisons, or the ghastly 2008 Mumbai attacks, or the one on the LoC where an Indian soldier was allegedly beheaded by Pakistani forces, or the Gujarat riots of 2002, my mind dwells upon the ‘Great Calcutta Killings’ that took place on 16 August 1946 which served to catalyse into violence the rivalry of India’s Hindu and Muslim communities. It was Jinnah’s ‘Direct Action Day’, to prove to Britain and the Congress Party that India’s Muslims were prepared ‘to get Pakistan for themselves by “Direct Action” if necessary.  ‘We shall have India divided,’ Jinnah had vowed, ‘or we shall have India destroyed.’

‘Freedom At Midnight’, a book by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins offers a horrifying account of what transpired on that fateful morning. At dawn on 16 August 1946, howling in a quasi-religious fervor, Muslim mobs had come bursting from their slums, waving clubs, iron bars, shovels, any instrument capable of ‘smashing in a human skull’. 

They savagely beat to sodden pulp any Hindus in their path and stuffed their remains in the city’s open gutters. Soon tall pillars of black smoke stretched up from a score of spots in the city, Hindu bazaars in full blaze.

Later, the Hindu mobs came storming out of their neighbourhoods looking for defenseless Muslims to slaughter. Never, in all its violent history, had Calcutta known 24 hours as savage, as packed with human viciousness as this one. By the time the slaughter was over, Calcutta belonged to the vultures. 

Exactly one year later to this tragic event, in August 1947 in the Punjab two men rode side by side in an open car. Three decades of struggle against the British rule should have earned the Prime Ministers of the new nations of Pakistan and India the right to ride in triumph through jubilant crowds of their admiring countrymen. Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan rode instead in depressed silence through scenes of horror and misery.

Now as their car sped past devastated village after devastated village, unharvested fields, wretched columns of refugees, Hindus and Sikhs trudging dumbly east, Muslims dumbly west, the two leaders, an aide noticed, seemed to shrink into the back seat of the car, collapsing, almost, under the burden of their misery.
At last Nehru broke the oppressive silence. ‘What hell the partition has brought us,’ he said to Liaquat in a half whisper. ‘We never foresaw anything like this when we agreed to it. We’ve been brothers. How could this have happened?’

‘Our people have gone mad,’ Liaquat replied.