The last thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind is the cricket. Mumbai took home the IPL trophy, but there has been very little talk about that. All the talk has been about BCCI, corruption, spot-fixing, money, resignation and non-resignation. Swift constructive action eliminates rumor, innuendo and speculation. But why should anyone expect it out of the BCCI? What really surprises me the most is that Indians expect other Indians to do what they themselves would never do!
The BCCI is dominated by a rabble of politicians and their campaign contributors. It is a place to trade favors, jockey for influence and sweep dirt under the carpet. Why did politicians get elected to prestigious BCCI posts in the first place? The answer is probably very simple. The membership of state associations is dominated by the rich and powerful. From the erstwhile kings and nawabs that originally sponsored cricket, it moved into the hands of corporate scions that needed to indulge in some pass time with their money. They in turn confer these offices on the politicians who gladly return their favors in other ways. Politicians’ very existence depends on the perception of being powerful, administratively astute and organized. So the quid pro quo serves them very well.
These politicians appoint the judges, bureaucrats and officers to investigative agencies. Given the coalition politics in India, no politician is going to ever piss off another one completely unless he is devoid of all ambition. My theory is that any politician devoid of ambition would never get involved in cricket administration. He or she would be happy being politicians and managing their constituencies and their constituents’ expectations. So a mix of ambitious politicians and their influential, rich and powerful friends runs Indian cricket and now dominates world cricket.
As such any bad news is not good for any of these guys. So sweeping things under the rug is the best solution for all problems. Appointing three member panels with two Tamil Nadu judges to probe a Tamil Nadu industrialist whose son-in-law is in a Tamil Nadu jail reeks of just that - an attempt to sweep things under the rug. Any punishment meted out to Srinivasan will not be in the Dalmiya league. Dalmiya tried to keep out Pawar and got his wings clipped and his very life was made miserable. Srinivasan on the other hand gets a ‘he is an honorable man’ from the MCA president who is a proxy of Sharad Pawar.
Indian culture works such that quid pro quo conversations are probably happening daily to give Srinivasan an honorable exit or at worst a slap on the wrist. A few players will be banned. The most cynical one would say that Asad Rauf will likely be hung out to dry. He is a Pakistani and what better way to fool the Indian public than point the finger at a Pakistani. No one in India will stop watching the IPL or any other cricket game. If cricket descends to being a version of WWF, so be it. Indian fans will not care because they have no other forms of entertainment. Films, politics and cricket are all that binds Indians. Everything else is divisive.
So just as easily as Sanjay Dutt gets a bunch of sympathy votes though he has broken the law and Salman Khan breaks records at the box office despite being a drunk driver who killed someone, Srinivasan and his son-in-law may resurrect themselves because an alternate narrative will emerge sympathetic to their state, that will make enough excuses for enough Indians to start looking the other way or even supporting them because their livelihoods and their election depends on these guys.
And what about the cricket? The BCCI wallahs keep telling us that they are paying the first class cricketers more money than before and that they are spending more money than before on Indian cricket. But clearly, not enough is being spent on developing cricket in India and clearly they are not doing enough to maintain the sanctity of the sport. That’s because you can’t expect the fox to guard the hen-house. A majority of them are in it for themselves.
Cricketers also understand that sport is now a job. And pissing off your boss is the last thing you do to stay employed. Kapil’s humiliation is a classic example of how independent opinions are treated in “democratic” India. In the end, the feudal structures that operated for centuries continue to operate now and have made ethics and morality a convenient choice.
The cricketers are an underclass and those that criticize Dhoni for not speaking out don’t understand that speaking out will serve no purpose. Kumble’s silence makes that clear. So be prepared for a prolonged spell of gloom or simply tune out and find another sport to follow. India will infect every other nation’s cricket, due to its money and emigrant cricketers. And if you are looking for a clean sport, watch something else.