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India lacks sporting culture

Among the many things that Indians lack, sporting culture is at the top of the list, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2007 14:53 IST

When Kumble speaks loudly, it must be heard carefully. He talks the way he has bowled. Bang on target. So when he says our country lacks sporting culture, it must be examined thoughtfully, and the causes of malaise eliminated methodically.

How many of those who are criticising Team India know what Chinaman is? How many have attempted to take their cricket seriously?

It is funny but whenever the balls goes into the Australian crowd, it is invariably caught. In India, it mostly catches the body parts. Still, our screams are the loudest in the world. If we had seriously played the game, probably we would have been less agitated, and more forgiving.

Morning jogging is mostly restricted to leaving the child to school bus. Back-stretching exercises invariably happen when reversing one's car. No wonder, Wheel resting on tummy is a recurring feature -- so much despised in the West, but so much in vogue in India.

However, besides sporting culture, there are many other cultures which India lacks. Hopefully, professionals and concerned people from other fields will come together to assess what is going wrong, when, and where.

Culture of tolerance

One fellow shoots another for Parking in front of his gate. Road rage is just one manifestation of the collective rise in Blood Pressure of the country. People getting suppressed for asking for their rights, local parties rooting for sons of the soil, people berated for asking uncomfortable questions. A culture of tolerance is singularly lacking in the country.

Maharashtra for Maharashtrians, or Tamil Nadu for Tamilians - one hears these slogans ad nauseam. Inter-community and inter-religious marriages still invite tough community action. Pan-Indian becomes a word of convenience.

Ideology takes precedence over pragmatism. Undiluted versions play havoc with the national conscience. In the Left's red, there are no traces of any other colour. In BJP's saffron, the green tinge is generally missing.

Culture of healthy living

People easing by the roadside is a common sight. Women are rarely seen. But then they rarely drink enough water. There are not enough toilets in the country for people on move, and 90 per cent of these are stinking hell.

Spitting on the roadside, which invites such big fine in foreign countries, is a birth right not to be tempered with in India.

From adulterated milk to adulterated medicines - nothing invites any action. Government hospitals have specialists without facilities, and most private hospitals have facilities without specialists. Quakes and businessmen run half the private Medicare of the country.

A survey of 215 cities in the World has Delhi as India's best city. Its rank. 148th! That's a dubious accomplishment thanks to lack of sanitation and poor health.

Culture of Rules

Rulebooks are no more than scrap books. They just provide employment to the makers. Short cuts are the routes to be taken to success. Cutting the queue is a matter of honour, and something never to feel ashamed of.

Wrong way may be the way to hell in foreign countries. In India, it saves time and fuel, much more precious than the eventual fine.

Contacts are shamefully flaunted to escape trouble. If knowing a cabinet minister helps escaping Rs 100 buck fine, then so be it!

Culture of Humour

Events of 1984 had one adverse impact on national conscience. Sardarji jokes stopped being in circulation for quite some time. The bruised conscience of the nation may have recovered in last two decades, but its sense of humour has not.

It is tough to see humour in life with increasing EMI on loans, disasters in sporting arena, long working hours and even longer commuting time. But even no attempt is being made. Big pleasures take precedence over small blessings of life, which have infinite potential to make us all happy.

Culture of Guru-Shishya Parampara

It is not just the Indian cricket, in cultural and academic life people are losing respect for each other. Greg vs Sourav vs Sachin vs Dravid - problems are ingrained, and problems are dug-up. No one likes to be quoted, still no tough words are spared.

In an age of instant solutions, Chelas do not trust the Gurus with their philosophy of making sacrifices to get the desired result. Unless it involves sacrificing others! Education is a passport to prosperity, and not a self-less effort towards intellectual integrity. In this endeavour, the respect for the teaching fraternity is completely lost, even if they do not deserve that treatment.

Culture of fair-play at work place/merit-based promotion

How many of us really believe that the organizations are really treating them well. There is an all round disillusionment with the state of affairs. Most of us work for money and perks. The increasing demands on life do not leave scope for anything else. For anything tangible, one has to cuddle up to the higher-ups. The art of diplomacy has been taken to lower and lower depths. The dwindling employment opportunities and the insecurities of life make the mouse out of a tiger.

Culture of match-fixing

From fixing an NRI match to fixing and betting on the cricket field. This culture too is rampant like plague. Channels often berate the evil of match fixing, while telling at the same time about the betting index and how it is going up and down. On a match day, Sensex takes the back seat while the fluctuating rates of the teams take the centrestage.

So India needs to rediscover many cultures, and not just the sporting culture which Kumble has so passionately advocated.