I was having breakfast in my Pune hotel when a middle-aged lady walked up to me. I stood up to greet her thinking it was time for another picture request. But I was extremely disturbed by the conversation we had for the next 10 minutes.
Anita Pauline Dey is principal at WH Smith Memorial School in Varanasi and also a research scholar. Her thesis is called “Inter-religious peace building through education”. It seemed one of those innocuous subjects but along the way she stumbled upon a worrying trend.
Her research shows that children from Classes 6 to 10 in at least four states (names withheld) are indulging in betting on cricket matches. This won’t become a part of her research but she probed further with the help of authorities. She discovered that most of these children were from affluent families and were using their pocket money and mobile phones to bet on matches through syndicates.
I was shocked. Kids’ betting on cricket matches is a first for me. Ms Dey left with a request that I should appeal to parents and children to abstain from such a repulsive practice. So here I am, making not an appeal but a strong recommendation to keep a check on how your young ones are spending pocket money and using their mobile phones.
I don’t know who is killing innocence here, money, technology or modern lifestyle? I am not an expert on parenting but handing out a mobile phone to children doesn’t seem to be a smart idea. I understand the anxiety of working parents to stay in touch with their wards, but it is important to keep a check on what is coming in and going out of a child’s mobile phone.
By the way, I hope children betting on cricket is not blamed on the IPL, which is already coping with a lot of criticism this year.
I am in Pune for Sunday’s game against the Rising Supergiants, and am pleased to note that cricket will do its bit to help plug water problems in this region. The Mumbai Cricket Association and Maharashtra Cricket Association, the body that looks after the Pune stadium, have announced their support towards drought relief measures. I was reading the other day that even Hindi film songs can’t be played at IPL games due to non-payment of royalties. Hopefully, that is resolved now.
We are not too far away from the day when someone’s maid doesn’t show up and it is blamed on IPL! That seems to be the trend these days – blame it on IPL. I am not surprised by reports suggesting that the 2017 IPL could be hosted outside India and you can imagine the GDP loss.
At breakfast I also met good friend Sanjiv Goenka, the owner of Rising Pune Stars. He was in his Pune team jersey. He left after wishing me luck and I kept thinking about his multi-coloured jersey. Once again, I was convinced that KKR’s purple is much better than Pune’s. Let’s hope we finish one up on the cricket field too.
(The writer is captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders)