Opinion: Ramachandra Guha’s resignation letter proves our cricketing heroes have betrayed us
I read Ramachandra Guha’s resignation letter with a strange mix of glee and grief. I was thrilled that an ‘outsider’ had finally breached the walls of the BCCI citadel and told them what’s what; but I was also deeply saddened that even Guha and a Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators could do nothing to stem the rot.
But the true fall from grace in this entire BCCI mess, to me, is the heroes.
The corrupt businessmen who ran cricket ran it for their profit; we have always known that. But the cricketing heroes?
All those who we venerate and adore and cheer and shout for...everyone from Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid whose integrity has never been questioned to the Twitter rabble-rousers such as Virender Sehwag and the poster children of the advertising world such as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni.
My accusation is this: They all knew of all of this muck inside the Cricket Citadel; and they all kept silent.
It took a historian and an academic to articulate the problems that everyone has been side stepping. We have a Hero Problem (Guha has appropriately called this the “Superstar Syndrome”).
THE ALL-IMPORTANT XI
Those who have breached the citadels of hero-dom don’t want to rock the gravy boat; and those that haven’t hope to do so one day and reap the benefits for themselves. And so as a billion people cheer the 11 men whose victories and defeats we treat as our own, everyone looks away from the conflicts of interest.
Anthropologist Laura Nader has written of the need for “studying up”. She insists that while it is important to put under scrutiny the poor, the marginalised, and the downtrodden; it is equally necessary to look closely at the rich, the powerful, and the elite in order to understand their relationships and power equations that then shape and percolate down to the rest of society.
My doctoral research on the Indian Premier League (IPL) was an attempt at studying up. I was trying to write a thesis about the richest cricket league in the world, and its links to consumerism, big businesses, and television spectacles; and it really wasn’t easy.
The problems of access, secrecy, and celebrity were impregnable walls of the Citadel that I kept walking into. Which is why I’m grateful to Ramachandra Guha, a respected academic, a celebrity in his own right, and a member of the power elite himself in many ways; for having breached those walls and put up a spirited fight against those accustomed to never being questioned.
OUR SILENT ‘HEROES’
But the thing that bothers me the most is the support he absolutely did not get from our heroes. Why have they all been so silent?
Why do our vocal cricketers who think it worth their while to encourage trolling a woman on Twitter or suggest that Kashmiris who oppose the Army should be killed, lose their voices while their own stuff their pockets? Why did no one say anything? Did they not know that those who were paid to represent certain players were also responsible for commentating on their game and selecting them for teams?
That IPL contracts were conflicting with national commitments? Other than Bishan Singh Bedi (who – no surprise – is not seen in commentary boxes and IPL studios), I can think of no cricketer who has even admitted that there is a problem.
There is absolutely no reason why the silence of our “Superstars” should not be construed as tacit support for all the “conflicts of interest”. Even if they haven’t fixed matches and sent hints to bookies with towels on their pajamas; they are guilty. Guilty of condoning the corruption by their silence.
It’s time to call it. They have betrayed us. Repeatedly and continuously.