INI Signal launched and thoughts on cricket
Nitin and others at Indian National Interest recently launched a group blog, Signal. It is a forum to share news and comment on current events related to national interests. Read Confused’s announcement at DesiPundit. The blog has really taken off since yesterday and in a Boing Boing-esque manner, my first post for that blog, made late last night, is already near the bottom of the pile. Which is all good.
Given the hoopla over the Indian cricket team’s recent performances, my post was on the asinine reaction from the Indian supporters and particularly parliamentarians, who seem to have nothing better to do on hand.
The post is reproduced below after the jump.
The travails of the Indian cricket team in South Africa over the past week has been at the forefront of our nation’s interest – and therefore, probably worthy of a few words and links on this particular forum.
As most of you are aware, the Indian team has been soundly drubbed in three ODIs by margins of 157, 106 and 80 runs – results that could most charitably be described as an improving performance. But it was very the first loss itself, where the Indians abjectly folded up for 91 runs that sent the nation in a tizzy, with anger being directed both at players and the coach, Greg Chappell.
Angry, not to mention fickle-minded, supporters did not waste time in taking to the streets. While some protests were harmless (but no less asinine):
Kolkata erupted in protest over Greg Chappell’s comments against Indian MPs, with demonstrators burning the coach’s effigy and demanding that he be sacked immediately.
At Kalighat in the southern part of the city, around 30-35 members of ‘Cricket Lovers Association’ raised slogans against the Australian coach saying he has insulted not only the Indian MPs but also the entire nation. "The MPs are people’s representatives. Insulting them is akin to insulting the Indian people," they said, carrying aloft posters condemnding (sic) Chappell.
others, not so much:
A group of people, claiming to be supporters of the Lok Janshakti Party, on Monday vandalised the house of cricketer Mohammad Kaif after his poor show in the ongoing One-day series against South Africa.
Kaif scored 8 and 10 in the two One-dayers against South Africa who drubbed India in both the matches, leading to strong criticism back home.
"A number of them tried to storm the house, broke some electric bulbs and plastered the name plate with mud," police said.
Leaving aside the common janta, our honorable parliamentarians, flush from recently ascending the pinnacles of job-efficiency and accountability, also spoke out:
On Monday, Members of Parliament (MP), cutting across party lines, attacked coach Greg Chappell over his comments following the thrashing that Dravid and his men received at the hands of South Africa. One of them even threatened a privilege motion against the Australian.
"If MPs are willing, a privilege motion can be moved against Chappell," Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhary told a private news channel.
Chappell’s response to the MPs was typically nonchalant and irreverent, which further irked our politicians. In particular, the lefties, taking time-out from idolizing the Chinese and protesting Walmart’s entry in India, took up up arms:
CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said the former Australian captain "had no business" to make such comments. “Chappell doesn’t understand the nuances of democracy,” he said.
“Let nobody lecture us,” Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee maintained.
But if the left are at it, can the loonies on the right be far behind ? Shiv-Sena chief Bal Thackeray, whose crowning achievement in the world of sports involved vandalizing a cricket pitch, batted for the Indian coach:
"Most of the players are unpredictable lads. It is very tough to predict who will perform and who will not," Mr Thackeray said in a front-page article in his paper. "Chappell does not merit the criticism which he is facing. What can he do if the players are so unpredictable," the Sena chief thinks.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta sums it nicely (do read the whole thing):
It’s a nation which said: ‘We can live with an unstable neighbourhood. We can live even if our armaments don’t work. So what, if our guns and planes, missiles and bombs routinely fail? We can live without energy. We can live with dismal performance on child nutrition. We can live without pension reform. We can live without schools, colleges, hospitals. We can live even if our land is acquired, our air polluted, our water drying up. But there is a loss the nation cannot bear: humiliating defeat on a cricket field.’
At this stage, it is a toss-up on which is more pathetic: the performance of the Indian players or the response in India. They run each other pretty close.
On a final note, I want to point out that while such religious fervor and obsession over a simple game is never healthy, Indians are by no means alone in this affliction. As fatuous as some of the comments made by Indian politicians may be, nothing can beat the comments of Mullahs from our northernly neighbors, who in their infinite wisdom, blamed his country’s exit from the ’96 World Cup on the gender of its Prime Minister.
(Also read GreatBong’s scathing attack not only on the protesters but also Greg Chappell)