Slavery is of many kinds and though legally banned, there are many ways in which the Masters of this world control and dictate their agenda. One of the most potent tools is the money power used to silence the voice of dissent.
For the majority, survival is an issue and they fall in line even if the wages are not good enough. For others, enough is never enough and they would bargain their worth to the last penny, giving in only when they feel they can't squeeze out any more. This symbiotic relationship is overwhelmingly in favour of the master and he can terminate the bond whenever he feels his orders are not being followed.
You may ask, what has all this to do with a column on sports? Well, these thoughts, encompassing the very nature of survival which degrades human beings, came to mind when the Indian cricket Board decided to deny Kirti Azad and Kapil Dev their "one-time monetary benefit" which is being doled out of the profits generated from the IPL.
The supporters of the Board would argue that what is wrong with this decision, as those who are critical of the IPL should be denied their "dues". And these supporters are by now a legion, especially former players as any dissent would mean losing out on a hefty package.
I can perfectly understand the reason behind those who abandoned Azad as their protesting voices would have meant a huge loss of money.
Toeing the line
For something as "silly" as IPL, why would any "sensible" person lose out on the generosity of the Board. Slaves have no voices of thier own unless they want to break their shackles, but that freedom comes at a price. Ask those who have benefited immensely by being "His Master's Voice". Compensation from the Board comes in many guises.
Some are governing council members, others are voicing their wisdom on television channels and some are more "lucky" than the others, simply because they have the gift of the gab and can use choicest, flattering words to eulogise those from whom they stand to gain.
This has now become a fiercely competitive rat race, where everyone feels he needs to outdo the other and reap profits from a golden harvest called the IPL.
In this status-quoist world of thriving Masters and abounding Slaves, there still are people who challenge the existing order. They become a threat to the establishment and have been precursors to a change, revolutionary as well as retrograde at times.
It would be interesting to see where Azad's fight leads. He is by no means an impoverished member of the Indian republic. Son of a former chief minister of Bihar, and now a Member of Parliament, Azad's cricketing credentials are not in doubt.
Tough being a rebel
His ultimate aim may well be to gain full-time entry into the world of cricket politics, but that is not the issue here. The issue is how far will he push the envelope and not succumb to the power the Board wields.
Kapil, unlike Azad, may not have any political clout but his status as a cricketing legend, one of the greatest all-rounders to grace the field, is his strength. For the Board to first seek his "apology" for joining hands with the "rebel" ICL league and then acknowledge his contribution to Indian cricket is in itself a sad commentary on the way it functions.
What is Kapil's reaction to this dictatorial attitude of the board and does he feel humiliated would be equally interesting to know. To be a rebel in the world ruled by the Masters is never an easy undertaking.