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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014
Ban the cricket board from calling its team 'India'
Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times
September 02, 2011
First Published: 23:22 IST(2/9/2011)
Last Updated: 23:26 IST(2/9/2011)

The draft sports bill, the brainchild of MS Gill, taken to its logical end by the well-meaning sports minister, Ajay Maken, has created disquiet among those who come under its ambit. The political class, regardless of party affiliations, has joined ranks to trash it as a draconian piece of legislation, which would interfere with the autonomous functioning of the sports bodies in the country.

Their viewpoint has found support among those who believe that the world functions best when it is not subject to regulation from elected representatives of the people. For them, profit motivation is the best form of democracy, the more the top-layer earns, and the happier becomes the lot of those who serve them.

It must matter little to them that the surging anger of the masses, best typified by the support Anna Hazare got, could hurtle the country into anarchy unless the ruling class responds with measures that provide a just solution to the problems people are facing.

Sport, a reflection of society
Sports, by its very definition and reach, may be a meaningless exercise and finding parallels in it with all the ills plaguing the society may appear out of place, but in reality it does mirror the society we live in. For example, most of the people who control sports bodies are also either senior ministers in the government or are important functionaries from the opposition parties.

The Cabinet, which decided to reject the sports bill, had in it half a dozen people who control sports in the country. When the lawmaker is also the law-defier, can anyone expect justice from them, be it in sports or in any form of policy-making that affects the future of the country? It is this all-pervasive conflict of interest that is hijacking any debate that could objectively address the pros and cons of this proposed sports bill.

Public scrutiny
The country must be baffled as to why those who have ostensibly chosen to "serve the people" are reluctant to let go of their hold over sports bodies. The answer, especially in a high profile, money-spinning sport like cricket, should be obvious to everyone, unless one is too naive.

There may be some contentious issues in the bill that could seriously affect the autonomy of the federations and those clauses should be put up for debate. But, to say no to tenure restrictions, age bar and for the cricket board to refuse to come under RTI, is unjustified. Only those who have something to hide would say no to the public scrutiny of their funds.

The BCCI, mired as it is in many allegations of financial misdemeanour, especially in the IPL, should have welcomed this move, instead of taking refuge behind the argument that being a private body, it is not subject to any government regulation.

If that be the case, there is one solution to this problem: Let the BCCI not be allowed to field their teams under the name of the country. Let them name the team (like in the IPL) Knight Riders or The Devils, the choice is theirs. They can even make billions selling the team to the highest bidder, but let them not be allowed to use the country's name.


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