Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Why the goodies? Do not demean Team India's feat

Cricket and me? Indifferent. The World Cup did wake me up and I did try to infuse some enthusiasm, the 2-3 matches that I saw were fun, but frankly, I do not understand or appreciate the hype that surrounds the 11 men all the year round, year after year.

I read a post in which a friend justifies her indignation when she hears the cynics whisper that the match was fixed. I would like to believe it was not: I was extremely angry the first time such an insinuation reached my ears. We Indians can be classic killjoys at most times.

But here, I wish to discuss how I resent the cartloads full of goodies that the government smothers the cricketers with at the slightest opportunity. I mean, nation's pride, desh ki shaan and all those passion-packed punchlines seem more advertorial-oriented than anything else. I remember getting annoyed and let down when Dhoni and Harbhajan skipped the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan to accept their Padma Shree award around April 2009. I mean Hello??

I am upset for two reasons:

A)Why the largesse in the first place..

We may have a hundred other worthy sports and a hundred other sportsmen who are really good. But we are talking about Padma Shree and Padma Bhushans here, not cookies and candies! Kajol gets one, Madhuri gets one, even Saif gets one. I digress. Cricket, Dhoni and Bhajji: let them stay around for a while, a good two or three decades before conferring such honours!! Their callousness may just go on to show that the men really mean business, such hullabaloo of cash rewards and awards may be actually embarassing, irritating them too for all you know!

B) Talking about World Cup 2011. Team India did a brilliant job. Exactly. They were doing just that, their job. We are happy and proud and we love the men in blue, but the God-like reverence seems inane. It seems very cheap and unfair to other worthy professional sectors of our country: farmers, army, navy, police, healthcare workers, teachers and so on that need immediate attention and bureaucratic commitment to meet decades-old demands for better working conditions, easy loans, higher pays. It seems a fickle government that loses hold of its stoic to announce cash awards to the tune of crores, plots in prime locations the country over and a dozen other such lavish goodies to the cricketers at the flimsiest of opportunity possible.

For me, even the World Cup is a flimsy reason when it comes to crores and crores of "official" impromptu cash rewards. Would I be wrong to say that at least 0.0001% of the tax I pay shall go into their Audis and what not? Big money, luxury stuff for winning a match, rubbish I say. I cannot afford to be lavish with gifts for my own kin. I do not dispute for a second that the men-in-blue made us proud, we are happy and grateful, but are these bounties not taking things a bit too far? I have enough faith in Team India to believe they will play well, perhaps better, without these cheap gimmicks and political pull and push. Dhoni and his men earn crores by the way of commercials, let them. Do not commercialise their hard-earned game on the field.

And last question. Is money the only way to show your appreciation? Has India as a country grown so cheap and materialistic to equate appreciation with cash rewards? How can you announce such extravagant gifts on my behalf, me the tax-payer? Did you consult me? Minute as my stature be as the citizen of this country, I would like to believe my money matters and my opinion counts. How you disappoint me every time. Sorry Mr. Pawar and kin, but this largess stinks. And you, incidentally, also head the agriculture ministry. In this country getting a loan for buying an SUV is easier than getting a loan to buy seeds and fertilizers. How about less pricey onions and easy loans for farmers, Mr. Pawar?

-Gauri Gharpure

April 5, 2011