After the defeat in Australia in the Test match series, P.Sainath of The Hindu did an exhaustive analysis and came up with this conclusion:
Just weeks ago, the pundits said this was our best chance ever to beat Australia in Australia. Our best team possible. Did the best team ever age in weeks? What happened?IPL happened. And happened long before the disaster tours. A team full of players carrying injuries playing 90 days of sub-standard club-level cricket happened. That prepares you only for more sub-standard stuff, year after year, not cricket at the highest levels. They continue playing there with injuries because the BCCI-IPL has brought big bucks to the privately-owned side of the sport, not to the domestic game.
What is the man’s credentials to make such an assessment? Zilch.
Mukul Kesavan wrote in a column that the IPL is stage-managed with nexus between the BCCI and the owners. But the most damning point, according to him, is the fact that there are cheerleaders:
…the most obvious token of the IPL's decadence is the dancing girls. These aren't cheerleaders (though sometimes they pretend to be) because this isn't collegiate America. These are young women paid to tart up the tournament with their bodies, to strut their stuff for mainly male audiences in a country where every adult woman has suffered the predatory gaze (and worse) of Indian men.This edition of the IPL has them in the television studio as well for the delectation of the anchors. When the governors of cricket in India begin to use female bodies to sell tickets and capture television ratings you know that a cricket tournament has lost its bearings and become something else. And when the journalists who enable the tamasha and the audiences who watch it begin to take the dancing girls for granted, there is a larger sickness abroad.
Ramachandra Guha, in an op-ed in The Hindu has several points of criticism on the ‘smash and grab crony league”. Just to cite two of his points:
The IPL has given capitalism and entrepreneurship a bad game. But it has also been bad for Indian democracy, in that it has vividly and even brazenly underlined the distance between the affluent, urban middle classes and the rest of India. Consider the fact that no city in India's largest State, Uttar Pradesh, which has an excellent Ranji Trophy team, was awarded a franchise. Nor any city in Bihar, Orissa, or Madhya Pradesh either. To leave out four of India's largest States — all cricket-mad, and which collectively account for close to half the country's population — must seriously disqualify the League's claim to be ‘Indian.'Yet it can still be called ‘Premier,' for it speaks for the more prosperous parts of India, and for the more prosperous sections within them. The very names of the teams are a clue to its elitist character — two ‘Kings,' two ‘Royals,' and one ‘Knight,' this in a democratic Republic whose Constitution and laws (rightly) did away with aristocratic titles of any kind.
So, what this guy wants is an IPL which is a microcosm of the country, with every state and every tribe from far-flung hamlets represented. And, combining both his points on the states and the titles, we should name teams as “Patna Petty Paupers” and “Bhopal Wretched Beggars”. No kings or chargers or knights to figure in the titles, and no teams from decadent cities such as Chennai or Mumbai or Delhi.
Why do these fellows constantly need to make us feel guilty for the entertainment we choose? Are they the only socially-conscious people around? Is it a zero-sum game? Is my watching the IPL at the expense of some farmer’s happiness? Who the hell are they to pontificate on what constitutes the right form of cricket? If the spectators didn’t like it, it wouldn’t have lasted 5 seasons. And the spectator has a right to choose his form of cricket.
IPL was the reason for our loss in Australia? Damn it. There were cricketers in the Australian team who had played the IPL too.
What’s immoral or vulgar about cheerleaders? Bloody hell, far worse things are shown in the most decent of Hindi or regional movies.
Why are these fellows such killjoys? Why can’t they tolerate people having some legitimate fun? The only explanation that I can think of is this.
These are all professional writers who have built their own individual brand by hyping some theory or other. And they make a living out of their writing, and must find as many outlets as they can to get their ‘writing’ published.
An event such as IPL is an excellent means to grab public attention by writing a column or two. For a professional writer, it’s too good an opportunity not to encash on. Sadly for these disgruntled writers, no newspaper would invite them to write a regular column on the IPL, for the simple reason that nobody will read their dreary stuff. Therefore, the only option is to somehow persuade their newspaper to allow them to write a contrarian piece bad-mouthing the IPL and to keep it in line with their brand image. So one guy can write that farmers are dying while we are fiddling, while the other guys can use the chance to hold forth on their respective pet theories cleverly weaving in the alleged ills of IPL. Their hope and intention is that such of their readers who are also IPL followers must die of guilt and shame.
Ironically, all the papers that carried these critical articles on IPL benefited immensely from the advertisements placed by IPL and the franchisees.
Much as I hate it, ‘freedom of expression’ means that such writers who make a living by spreading gloom and guilt should be allowed to do so. But I wish they would be socially ostracized for causing incalculable damage to the morale and happiness of the people.
“How dare you be happy?” is their refrain, as I blogged once. I would argue that even when the economy is depressed- or particularly when- people must be allowed to celebrate if, when and how they choose to, so long as such celebrations don’t come at the cost of someone else who is not a part of it.