When India’s plans for the Commonwealth Games ran into trouble, I didn’t mind as much as most people. For one thing, the Games were an extraordinarily complex endeavor, and its relative worth (among sports competitions, that is) didn’t seem all that high. But I reserve a special level of rage for the news that the Eden Gardens stadium is still not match-ready, despite months of renovations and warnings (and with less than a month to go before the first match there).
Cricket isn’t like track or soccer or tennis; in India, it’s the only game in town. People are making billions of dollars and there are hundreds of millions of fans in an ever-burgeoning market. And yet, we are saddled with administrators like J. Dalmiya, who says he’s shocked and surprised by the ICC’s move. Instead, he offered to have the stadium ready by Feb. 7. I’m sorry, but in what world is it OK to suggest a deadline less than two weeks before an event that is been on the schedule for at least four years?
I do not — do not — want to read anyone opine on what this says about India’s reputation. At some level, the mindless jingoistic hysteria that has gripped the middle-classes lately serves a point: it can be used to routinely shame leaders to act for the sake of national honor (as opposed to self-interest, or other parochial claims). But I’m starting to worry that this sentiment also clouds any plan for tangible action. Rather than waste words on what this latest fiasco says about the Indian identity or self -image, I’d like to know what punishments will be meted out; whether or not Dalmiya deserves to have his place on the Cricket Association of Bengal; whether urgent reform is needed at the state and national cricket level to secure better facilities.
Help me out, here.