The fact that India today is making the choice between conducting the Indian Premiere League(IPL) and the General Elections, boggles me. And the fact that popular opinion is, that the elections should be postponed (or even cancelled?), scares me further. Even though I’m one of those few Indians who may not be a personal fan of cricket, let me assure you that this write has nothing to do with that. I have nothing against cricket or people who enjoy the game. What I do have a problem with, is when we Indians let our passion take precedence over what should be priority. Is India truly thinking about this choice?
THE ISSUE THUS FAR:
The present Central Government has said that they cannot allow the IPL to be conducted as per the IPL’s plans, as it will clash with the poll dates. This security concern was magnified several times over when the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan was targeted earlier this month. The IPL has submitted 3 revised schedules, but none of them were found to be suitable. Certain State Governments had stated that they can conduct both events with their local police force. But some of the States that had earlier agreed, later pulled out. Basically, a big mess.
The opposition has seized the opportunity to deface the ruling party, with plenty at stake with General Elections just around the corner. The opposition argument is that the Government‘s inability to provide security, is admitting inadequacy. Moreover, cricket fans and opposition alike believe that this admission is grouping us with other volatile neighbours, which is going to detrimentally affect western perception of the region, and of India.
I cant say I agree with the opposition arguments. And here’s why.
>> The Mumbai terrorist attacks, the global financial crisis and now the security inadequacy.. would have been much the same, whoever was in power. This Government is only doing what is best for us. Do you think they are not aware of how much there is to loose in terms of votes, from all the cricket fans across the country who are outraged and pointing fingers? Come on, give them some more credit. They’re not entirely stupid. At least they’re not stupid enough to play around with something as sacred as cricket, and lose out on votes. They are not here to deprive us of our fun.
This Government has its back up against the wall. They could either give in to popular demand, dispatch troops to the matches and jeopardize Election security. Or they could use the security for the Elections but risk losing the elections anyway, because of it. If they choose option 1, and if something goes wrong at the IPL, tables would turn on them, with the country and the international community questioning why the matches were held if there wasn’t enough security. This is hardly a devil and deep sea situation. The right path to take is very clear. And in this tight squeeze, I believe that this Government has worked in the interest of the people, and not in the way that the opposition is claiming it would have handled the situation, which would have only served to manipulate votes in its favour in the bargain. How convenient for Arun Jaitley to criticize the Government. How very very convenient.
>> Isn’t it better to admit that we may be stretching ourselves too thin by conducting both events simultaneously, than pretending that we had it all under control and then suffering an untoward incident?
>> Western perception about this region of Asia and the Middle East, is already skeptical. Its been so, since forever. A lot of them think Africa is a country. So hey, there’s nothing new here. And why… why do we care so much about what they think? Why are we fawning for their accreditation? This is exactly the state India was in with the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ when we were ecstatic because the white man patted us on the back.
And lets not forget: 9/11 happened in the USA. 7/7 happened in the UK. And even after all that, a year or two ago, yet another major plot was foiled in the UK (when fluids were found, that contained potentially explosive substances.)
Anyway no matter what the western perception of India is, they are still going to do business with us. As much as they may want to, they just cannot blot out this subcontinent. Have some faith.
With regards to this fear, that we are being grouped with our unstable neighbours and being painted with the same brush, let me tell you that the stereotypification would be exponentially worse if an attack was actually carried out, or even a plan for it was discovered and foiled. And what happens to ‘morale boosting’ then? When we are hit where it really hurts, we may never recover from it. THAT will be a real psychological depression. If we do fail to prevent an attack, that will be PROOVING we are unsafe, as opposed to now, when people may only be THINKING of us as unsafe, but taking precautions to be safe.
What if some of the foreign players sent us word that they refuse to play in the IPL due to security concerns (Of course they wouldn’t do that since they’re getting rich from this.)? We already know that several teams have refused to go to Pakistan in the recent past. Would that not be a huge and painful slap on our faces, if it happened? I actually wish some of the players had backed out, because I don’t think anything else would work, in rousing this nation from its sin of trivializing of what is important. Security, elections and democracy should be on the main course. IPL should be stomached only if there’s space after all of that.
>> “We must show the terrorists that we are not affected, by conducting the IPL anyway.” Indeed we shouldn’t let terrorism govern our lives and we must live them fully. Of course we should still continue to go to the theatre, drink tea at expensive hotels, go dancing, use the subway, etc.
Something like the IPL is almost sure of being targeted. What makes us think that there isn’t an attack planned for the IPL? This false sense of security that we are feeding ourselves is getting us no where. Its just brimming with potential for a terrorist- thousands of euphoric and dizzy fans, lots of media coverage, and the heart of the people as well. There isn’t anything more they could possibly ask for. But I definitely agree that IPL must go on.
However, this situation that we are in, is not a risk worth taking. Not at the cost of innocent lives. The Government did not say that IPL should be totally scrapped for the next 10 years till we sort out terrorism. The Government has only asked for it to not coincide with the elections. Is that so unreasonable? No, we shouldn’t cripple ourselves and live as a shut-in out of fear. A painting could fall off the wall and kill us anyway. But it doesn’t mean we live recklessly and without caution.
This philosophy that lot of people have, “I’ll live my life to the fullest, I don’t care what people think, I’ll do what I want to do” is one of the reasons we are in a perpetual mess. If you know your cord is frayed, would you still go bungee jumping? Shilpa Shetty when asked to comment said she prefers to be optimistic about terrorism in India. ITS REAL! Theres no ‘sunny side’ to it! Isn’t it about time we stopped living in denial and faced reality?
>> What makes us think we are so invincible? When the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team took place, Imran Khan said that no one expected something so important to this subcontinent, to be targeted. He said that there could be a possible backlash for the terrorists now, since a lot of people who may have supported them, would probably be re thinking their choices. Did the terrorists not know that such a consequence could take place? They are not stupid either. Of course they knew. But they did it anyway, because they don’t care what we think. Terrorism is not new to us. Why do we still behave so naïve and nonchalant about it?
>> Its very easy for a cricket crazy person to make all kinds of justifications for IPL to be carried out anyway. They say it is a boost to our morale, and enables us to flaunt our stuff to the western world. I think it was the actor Rahul Bose who said, “We trust our Government and security. We need to have more confidence in ourselves.”
But the security of the country is not the concern of the cricket crazy person. And neither is it the concern of Lalit Modi, Preiti Zinta, Rahul Bose or any of those others. They will have bullet proof cabins to retreat into and will be surrounded by security at all times. Or do you think Lalit Modi actually ‘cares’ for cricket fans, and so the IPL has been created just to feed that emotion? Please be real. IPL is about money and nothing else. Its not about national pride. The Olympic Games is about national pride, because it is all inclusive. The IPL is about a few rich people who came up with a brilliant idea to get richer.
Apart from the loss of innocent lives, that doesn’t seem to be many peoples’ concern, imagine if Shah Rukh Khan was actually shot or even grazed by a bullet! Do you remember when the actor Rajkumar was kidnapped by Veerappan some years back? There were riots on the streets because he was worshipped. And I mean literally prayed to. This is a country where cricket and film stars are a religion. And conducting the IPL along with the Elections, has everything to do with the above.
>> Its common knowledge that the General Elections in India happen every five years. We knew it was going to happen in 2009. This is probably one of the most established characteristics of our country. IPL however has only been around since 2008. And if anybody is to be blamed, it is the organizers of the IPL because they should have known better than to schedule it for the same month as the once-in-five-years spectacle of polling.
>> Terrorism can happen anywhere, at any time. It could happen at the World Cup in 2011. But I’ll bet the UK isn’t conducting their Elections on the same days. And if they are, they will still probably have sufficient resources to do so. Remember they’ve had troops in Afghanistan for the last eight years or so, since 2001. There is no dearth of men to be sent to die on the front lines, in these ‘western and more capable’ countries. But there is a dearth of similar men, here.
For me, the issue is much larger than the smooth conduction of a cricket match. Its more than the fact that there are thousands of disappointed fans. For me, this raises a much larger question of, if our head is really screwed on our shoulders or not. Are we thinking in the interest of our country. Are we really capable of putting entertainment and sport ahead of security. We are the largest and one of the most successful democracies in the world. Are we really ready to give up on all that and compromise, because we want to watch a cricket match. Are we that stupid.