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Cricket in Parliament
by Gulu Ezekiel
Nov 24, 2006
The uproar in Parliament over the performance of the Indian cricket team is becoming something of a national joke. One wonders what are the priorities of our elected representatives if they have nothing better to discuss at the cost of the nation's tax payers.

Then again, cricket in India is paying the price for its mega-popularity, and not for the first or last time either.

You can be sure that the abysmal show by our national hockey side which finished 11th out of 12 teams (both the men and women) at this year's World Cups will never be discussed in Parliament. And why should it? Politicians after all know the pulse of the people (that's how they win votes) and they are well aware that they can win cheap brownie points by raising a hue and cry over the one sport that binds the nation's psyche.

Further, the political discussions are motivated on three fronts.

One, since the Indian cricket board is headed by a politician (Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar), it stands to reason that the political opponents of his NCP will attack him whenever they can.
Secondly, the Left Front MPs from Bengal raising the issue of Sourav Ganguly -akin to flogging a dead horse by now-are aware they are tapping into an emotional issue for the people of their state.
Thirdly and most laughably, comes the question of reservations in the Indian cricket team raised by the leader of the Dalit Panthers Party. Though all and sundry have condemned this roundly, the seed has been planted in our political soil and if it ever sprouts, we can kiss sport goodbye in this country.

It is interesting to note however that four of the playing 11 (and 5 of the 14 of the tour party) that suffered that now infamous 'Debacle at Durban' as it has been dubbed in the press, are from the Muslim community.

And for those who wonder if this is something of a record, I suggest they check the scorecard of India’s very first Test match, at Lord's way back in 1932. There are four Muslims in that famous team, apart from two Parsees and a Sikh.

So while cricket is being roundly condemned in Parliament and on the streets today, let us give it credit for being so representative of the wonderful religious mosaic that is India.

Our politicians should also keep in mind that cricket is the only sport in India that has not squandered the people's tax money. This is because the BCCI is the richest sport body around and does not have to go cap in hand to the government for funding.

This is certainly not the case with sundry other sporting bodies headed by serving members of Parliament such as the Judo Federation of India (Jagdish Tytler of the Congress), the Archery Federation of India (VK Malhotra of the BJP) and the All India Football Federation (PR Das Munshi of the Congress).

Perhaps it would be worth Parliament's time to question these worthies about what their respective sports have achieved internationally and how many millions of rupees they have squandered over the decades.
 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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