The IPL spot-fixing scandal has taken the nation by a storm. Why has the repercussion been so huge? It is said the three Rajasthan Royals cheated billions of people by pretending a honest performance on the 22 yards. The purist mind had first thought that by distancing these three 'corrupt souls' from the annual cricket fest, we will clean the game's image but now after a few days, it has been seen that the scandal is deep-rooted and it is virtually impossible to clean up the mess in one lifetime.
The question is: Who takes the responsibility of safeguarding the pride and trust of billions that have been so badly battered by the faking cricket? And is nobody indeed is careful enough to shield the cause of nationalistic passion, then why do we feel so attached with the game and its ambassadors?
It is a big irony that cricket, which is considered a religion in this country and is seriously followed by the masses, is administered by a body which has little or no accountability to anybody.
'Cricketers play for BCCI, not India'
In September 2004, the BCCI, to the dismay of many, had said that India's cricketers actually plays for it and not the nation. BCCI counsel K K Venugopal had said in the Supreme Court: "We do not fly the Indian flag when the team participates in an international match. The position is like Indian competitors participating in the miss world contest where the participants are though known as Indian participants but in real term it is purely a private event organised by private parties." He had said this while defending the autonomous position of the BCCI.
Venugopal's reply had come in reply to a query from a five-judge Constitution Bench which was hearing arguments on Zee TV's petition seeking a definition of the cricket board's status, whether it is a "state instrumentality" or just a private organization which manages cricket in the country.
The counsel had said that external regulations like granting visa to players, providing foreign exchange to them and the board officials for playing abroad, entertainment and luxury taxes by the government didn't bring the BCCI under the Centre's control to make it a "state instrumentality". He had added that the board did not ever apply for a recognition from the Centre and nor was it ever given such a recognition by the central government or any of its agency. According to Venugopal, cricket would suffer if the BCCI was brought under the government's control.
How different is it today?
How can a money-making house cater to our nationalistic passion?
This is a tricky situation. Bringing the BCCI under the government is truly not a solution, but at the same time, but how safe is it to put our nationalistic passion in the hands of a private body which runs like a money-making business house? If Sachin Tendulkars or Rahul Dravids are considered as BCCI's cricket players (as Venugopal had said) and not the representatives of the nation, how does an average cricket fan of this country feel?
And if he still doesn't feel being let down, then he doesn't have any justification to feel betrayed by the latest scandal. It is part and parcel of a private firm's business where the distinction between the white, gray and black is very blurred.
The average fan made a great mistake by replacing the BCCI's flag with the Tricolour at the cricket ground whenever a Dhoni or Kohli slammed a boundary. He shouldn't have confused between nationalism and professionalism.
Nine years ago, Venugopal had said that the BCCI did not fly the national flag nor used any national emblem in its activities.
But the confusion prevailed on behalf of the BCCI as well. In February 2005, the board had backed the cricketers on the issue of sporting the national flag on their helmet. The Indian government had asked the BCCI to stop cricketers from using the Tricolour on their cricketing gear for it dishonoured the flag. The board reportedly overlooked the issue but the alarm bell had started ringing ahead of the Pakistani cricket team's tour scheduled that year.
Tendulkar's sporting the national flag on his helmet and top-inside part of his cricket coffin particularly came under the lens. But Tendulkar, known for his commitment to the game and the nation on the filed, can be trusted to balance between the nation and profession. What happens when a Sreesanth crumbles in the face of burning desire to pocket a few more bucks? Who then takes the responsibility to ensure that the nation is not betrayed?
The BCCI either should stop taking credit for national honours or make itself publicly accountable.
We can't attach our passion with business motives
The sense, which millions of us are feeling to have been insulted after the spot-fixing, is very complicatedly nurtured. The BCCI is doing brisk business with cricket and re-introducing it in more glittering packages knowing very well the nationalistic passion will act as a magnet to pull the people to the ground, the dubious nature of the games notwithstanding. But it will conveniently distance itself from all evils, saying it has no legal power to do so.
Not a single fixing scandal in cricket in this country has been convincingly handled apart from banning a few individuals. The BCCI knows very well that the game it promotes serves as an addictive and helps in running a massive industry. The creator has no power to rein in the monster and hence prefers to back off conveniently.
The players face the heat whenever a scandal breaks out over the game and the government thinks what to do next. But yet, India moves on.
Our nationalism has been left alone to be humiliated. Nothing can be more humiliating than this.