I was initially planning on putting up a post regarding how our Parliamentarians (and indeed, our legislators) seem to spend all of their time in the Parliament (and Assemblies) debating endlessly over frivolous, needless issues, and then the only bills that are passed (and consequently, the only laws that are framed), are ones that are irrelevant to the real problems that face us. The immediate motivation for that came when the honourable MLAs in the Vidhan Souda in Karnataka decided to rename their capital. Exit Bangalore, enter Bengaluru. Wow! How much work did that take? Zilch. Nothing.
Other examples that come to mind are of course, Mumbai’s dance bars, renaming Indian Airlines as “Indian”, “upgrading” Pune and Bangalore airports by “allowing” one flight each to Singapore and Dubai (by AI and IA only, of course) – never mind that both these airports are already jam-packed with airplanes and passengers, with no room for capacity expansion at all. Tough decisions like sorting out the VAT mess, expanding the tax net, urban land reform, dealing with the sever power shortage in major states, getting rid of illegal slums in our cities, downsizing the Government, – I have barely scratched the surface of the list of problems that *really* matter to all of us. But while I was contemplating how to write that post, along came something so ridiculous, so unbelievably stupid, so frivolous, that it simply eclipsed all of my thoughts on the topic, and established itself as the new nadir of our Parliamentarians’ conduct:
Sourav Ganguly’s exclusion from the Indian Cricket Team was made an issue in Parliament.
Not only that, politicians from Bengal – including the (previously thought-of as sensible) Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, and minister Ashok Bhattacharya have made their displeasure public. An “irate” Buddha called up Sharad Pawar – the new BCCI honcho – and demanded his (Ganguly’s) re-instatement into the squad, Bhattacharya opined that Sourav was the victim of a “deep conspiracy”, and finally, the proverbial last straw was when the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee – former Parliamentarian of the Year – said that he would allow a discussion on the issue next week in Parliament.
My eyes widened in horror as I read this last piece of news in the papers this morning. Surely we elect this 543-strong bunch of people for reasons better than to debate the composition of the Indian Cricket Team! I have nothing whatsoever to say whether Dada’s exclusion from the team was right or wrong – that is not the matter here at all. Even if it were a very unfair decision, should our MPs be debating this? Do they have nothing better to do? After spending the last two weeks haranguing over the Volcker report (And what came of that debate? Nothing, since some Committee is still “looking into it”.), trading charges over whether the NDA-did-it-too-not-just-us, and then the Questions-for-money scandal, next week we will be subjected to more ugly scenes of Bengal-vs-Maharashtra in Parliament, since folks around the country have reduced this matter into a delightful Bengali-pride-vs-Marathi-arrogance fight. Sharad Pawar has pleaded, and most rightly so, that sports and politics should be kept separate. Sensibly, he said that “there is no point discussing it (the selection process) in public”.
You want to talk about sports, if nothing else, Parliament? Take this, then: Why is KPS Gill heading the Indian Hockey Federation for the last 12 years (more, I think), and why has Indian Hockey not improved an iota in this timeframe? Why do we still have to change our coaches every year? Why is Priyaranjan Dasmunshi heading our Footbal Association for years and years now, and why don’t even stand a chance in the qualifiers of the Football World Cup. Why are these individuals not accountable for the results on the field? Why is the Indian public not a direct stakeholder in the manner in these federations are run? Why is it that the only organisation that is auotnomous, that is (or used to be) free from politicians’ clutches, the BCCI, has managed to make itself the richest cricketing body in the world, and that cricket has remained the only sport in which the country can make it to the Top 5 in the world? That it is the only sport which has a healthy and vibrant domestic league (which is not postponed year-after-year)?
These are, again, matters which need debate, followed up by tough decisions and firm actions that not everyone will find welcome. Do our MPs have the stomach for this?