April 26, 2005

Running after Ruin

The Telegraph, 26.04.2005

Ashok Mitra considers India to be awash with money (“A cynic on cricket”, April 18). While lashing out against the commercials on television during cricket telecasts, he forgets that money is not a crop which you can easily grow in a field. If everything were to be “doled” out by the state, then soon the state would have nothing left. Mitra asks readers to wake up to the damage economic liberalization has done to India. It is he, it seems, who is yet to wake up. As far as cricket telecast goes, until the mid-Nineties, we had to endure the terrible telecasts by Doordarshan. Sure there were less commercials, but cricket-watching is hardly fun if you cannot follow the ball on the screen. Where does the money to invest in better technology and hiring of competent commentators come from? Not from the fields in the author’s imagination. Even today, if a cricket match is being parallely shown on ESPN or Star Sports and Doordarshan, most people would prefer the “foreign” channels despite the greater abundance of adverts. Doordarshan has poor camera-work, second-string commentary and no pre- and post-match analysis worth speaking of.

The author is also utterly disdainful of India’s middle classes who, according to him, “hanker” for consumer goods. But it is the middle class which is the moving force of India. Mitra also seems to have issues with the corporatization of cricket. What is wrong with that, I say? It is only because cricket has been converted to an industry that we see sponsors coming forth, ensuring a better fare for viewers, setting up coaching centres and sponsoring aspiring players. And who can deny that India has improved its standing in international cricket in the past 10–15 years? I remember the times when loss was what people expected when India was playing. Today, our anger at India’s defeat shows how much we are winning of late. The same model should be applied to every single sport in India. Perhaps that will help India win some medals at the Olympics at last.

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