On a day when everyone is wishing the world to be a happy place to live in and making an effort to erase uncomfortable memories of the year gone by, should one go fast forward or stay in the rewind mode? For an optimist, the choice is easy if he believes that in analysing the ills of the past lie lessons for a better future.
In our responses to the world around us, we always react in a manner which to me suggests that as a nation we suffer from an inferiority complex. A confident person looks within if something goes wrong and does not make shrill pronouncements in his defence and blame the “outsider” for his failings.
We know we are a very corrupt nation and all those who mouth platitudes are, in reality those who siphon all the profits meant for public good.
You may ask what has all this to do with Indian sport? Almost everything I would say.
Take for example the debate which surrounds the hosting of the Commonwealth Games. We are being told that India’s prestige as a global power is at stake if we fail to present the perfect Games.
All the answers for the delay in projects is found in increasing the outlay of government expenditure. By the time the Games end — hopefully without any glitches — we would have ended spending around Rs 2000 crore! This is a kind of money which would have helped Delhi not just build a chain of roads and flyovers but also solve its chronic electricity and water problems.
For a 12-day extravaganza, which is not going to help Indian sport in anyway — remember the ‘82 Delhi Asiad — we are all willing to create an illusion around us, fuelled by politicians and the organizers, that there is a link between the Games and our growth as a nation. Maybe this is not the right time to raise this debate as we are now stuck with the Games but, should that also mean that don’t try to find out whether the money being doled out is being spent for the purpose it is meant? Isn’t there a need to probe this nexus between contractors, builders and those organising the event? After all, the money spent comes from the taxes we pay and we have every right to know where and how each penny is being spent.
Cricket is the worst culprit when it comes to exploiting these nationalist sentiments. When the going is good, the Indian board takes advantage of all the state benefits by projecting itself as an organisation which is not there for profit-making but is doing a service to the nation. And when the going is bad, it closes ranks and tells the world that it is a private body and neither its accounts nor the unbridled use of power can be checked.
The kind of money, which the Indian Board is making today will be the envy of the best corporate. Yet most of those in its administrations would want us to believe that they are doing it for the love of the game.
From central ministers to opposition leaders, from top bureaucrats to corporate czars, are all involved with cricket administration because they “love” the nation. And when a disaster like the Kotla fiasco happens, no one is willing to take the blame. Instead of feeling embarrassed, officials squabble in full public glare without an iota of remorse.
The only way out is to subject their finances — the millions they make and spend — to a government audit. If nothing else, we will find out who cheats whom in the name of national pride.