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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Jul 2014

Pradeep Magazine

The air is vitiated, rot runs deep
Pradeep Magazine, Hindustan Times
November 05, 2011
First Published: 01:13 IST(5/11/2011)
Last Updated: 01:17 IST(5/11/2011)

In a society which puts a premium on the pursuit of money as the main aim of life, corruption is bound to flourish. When ends justify the means, no amount of self-righteous indignation or pubic display of anger and anguish over young men having betrayed the lofty ideals of the game they played will change anything. Sport, as the cliche goes, mirrors the world we live in, then why expect impressionable minds to be any different from the others? Isn't this a logical outcome of an environment of venality and greed created by hardened administrators around the sport, which benefits them manifold more than the person because of whom they make that money?

Why look far. In the India of today, we have politicians, administrators, businessmen and corporate honchos in jail for trying to manipulate the system for monetary benefits.

Sports administrators are not too far behind. The CWG scandal is still unraveling and corruption in cricket, especially in the IPL, is still being probed. It will require a brave man or an utter fool to stick out his neck and say this is a problem peculiar to Pak and it does not exist elsewhere. The logic of riches and education being a cushion against temptation to earn more does not hold when we see around us the very rich and famous behind bars. The rules of the game are simple: the richer the bounty, the greater the temptation to stray from the straight line.

Not about riches
Let us revisit the Match-fixing saga Part 1. When did the allegations surface? It happened at a time when cricket and cricketers in India were getting richer. The TV rights, thanks to economic liberalisation that broke Doordarshan's monopoly over live broadcast, started fetching a fortune for the Indian board and the players started making handsome money. Live television and the advent of multinational companies helped the players get hefty endorsement deals and the board became a huge profit-making enterprise. One would have thought that because everyone was making enough money legitimately, no wrong-doing was possible. But in reality, the opposite happened and match-fixing took strong roots, as the records prove.

It has resurfaced, though at the moment limited to Pak,  at a time when again cricket is seeing a multifold increase in money being poured into the game in India, where even someone who has not played for the nation is still making around Rs1 crore a year, thanks to the IPL. 

Grown deep roots
Even in the late nineties, Pakistan was supposed to be the epicenter of this malaise, but when the lid was blown off, it had roots in every cricket-playing nation. That is why today everyone is reacting cautiously and hoping against hope that this is a one-nation problem and has not spread its tentacles across the cricketing world. India, the home of cricket and its money, legitimate and illegitimate, could be once again sitting on a powder keg. It is home to illegal betting syndicates that generate millions of  unaccounted money and is also home to a T20 league which is more of a private enterprise, where the only thing that matters is money and profits.

What may be going on behind the scenes in a format ripe for spot-fixing is a scary thought given the history of indifference and the 'who cares' attitude of the Indian board. Many players, past and present, have aired their concerns and it speaks of the cynical attitude of our times that if ever sensational revelations surface, no one would be surprised.


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