Vantage point

Monday, June 23, 2003

This post is regarding Pushkar's recent blog post.

Politics is supposedly the last refuge of scoundrels. These scoundrels succeed in politics only on the basis of their guile, their cunning, or basically their ability to delude people into falling in line with the rhetoric they throw up. A couple of days ago I pasted an excerpt from Orwell's 1984 to show how superbly American politicians (mainly Republicans) have succeeded in giving a slip to key issues by whipping up certain sentiments, the most useful one being patriotism.

This intense opposition to India-Pakistan cricketing ties is a manifestation of the a similar successful tactic of the Indian government.

The standard line is "Our armymen are being killed by Pakistanis and you want us to play cricket with them?". Such propagandist spin works only when dirven by the fire of pseudo-patriotism. Some people feel as if they have patented patriotism and their definition of the concept will be applied everywhere. So be it America or India, or any other country, the most illogical smokescreen-like arguments can be passed of in the name of patriotism.

Let us examine the facets of this issue one by one.

Firstly, how exactly are we helping our country's cause by not playing bilateral cricket with them? If we have such a major peeve, why don't we break off all sporting ties? Why is it okay to play hockey with them in a tri-nation tourney in Australia, but not OK to play in a tri-nation cricket tourney with them in Morocco or Toronto? For that matter, why did we play the World Cup match with them? The message one gets from this is "yeah we really care about our armymen, good we dont play Pak....oh what did you say, World Cup? Why, it just comes once every 4 years and is multilateral. Come on, let's go watch the match....armymen? They'll watch the match too, right?....."

The Vajpayee government would have us believe this is "principled" foreign policy. B-u-l-l-s-h-i-t!!! The same government that ignored the sacrifices made by the armed forces in capturing terrorists, by escorting those fellas to Kandahar during the 1999 hijacking? The same government whose Defence Minister resigned after charges of corruption in Arms deals......sanctimoniously claimed that he would wait to be absolved by a commission of enquiry.....but was reinstalled even ebfore the enquiry's report came? Of all the governments we have had, this one has the shakiest record in terms of "patriotism".......but of course, not according to their patented definition of the concept.

I am not against using sports as a political weapon. But I do find it incredibly stupid if this use is misconstrued by some as an extremely patriotic pr principle-based move. India had a principle-based policy some decades ago. This was when we forfeited the 1975 Davis Cup finals(imagine, FINALS!!!), beacuse that would have meant playing an apartheid-ridden South Africa. Does our government have the guts to prevent India from playing Pakistan in the World Cup.....or if we had ended up in the finals together?

There is a line of argument that goes "Why help pakistan make money through cricket?". If these people hate Pakistan so much, why don't they rally against the Most favoured Nation (MFN) status we have given to Pakistan? Why don't they burn all the pirated 'sadaf' CDs of Pakistani origin which are causing a big dent in the revenues of Bollywood and filling Pakistani coffers? Why don't they see that Pakistan made money even in the recent hockey tournament?

Another argument is "Pakistanis treat it like Jihad, so we shouldnt play them". What?????? How does it matter to us how they treat it? I am not saying call it a "Friendsip Series" and hug them before every match. Treat it like sports, in a calm dispassionate manner. Let them do what they want. Our players have shown themselves good enough to take on these so called flannel-jihadis.

Politics is a dirty business. That is what they do. But educated people like you and me should have more sense than to be fooled by their jingoistic rhetoric. Not playing bilateral cricket is a smokescreen used to evade the real issues. Just like the Shivsena and the whole "Mumbai-Bombay" issue or the BJP with its Ram Mandir issue. Their utility is to divert the attention of the masses from the real issue at hand. Thackeray, Advani, Vajpayee et al could do a PhD on this skill.

They feed the pseudo-ego in the desktop or cohc-top patriots. We feel as if we are doing some great thing by opposing cricketing ties. Are we deluded or what?

Our armymen watched the 1st March World Cup encounter with as much glee as we did. they did not say "Hmpf, they send terrorists here, we ain't watching the match." Everyone saw the match, despite their holier than thou attitudes. Why?

Because people want to watch an India-Pakistan match. And what people want, should be given to them. No one has the right to dictate morality in a demcracy. The problem with Pakistan needs to be dealt with as well.....but freeing terrorists, announcing 6 month long unilateral ceasefires, re-installing a corrupt man as a Defence Minister, stationing the entire Army at high alert on the border for one year and pulling it back without any tangible achievements does not seem to be the best way to go about it.

But apparently cutting off bilateral cricket ties is either a brilliant strategy or some grand patriotic gesture to our Armed Services!!!!