Sunday, April 10, 2011

Opium for the Masses

"Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls
With the flannelled fools at the wicket…..” Rudyard Kipling

The Minister was working very hard. It was not enough that India won the World Cup. True, during the month or so that the tournament held public attention, he did not have to be reminded daily about failed election promises and face awkward questions in Parliament. The challenge now was to keep the nation’s attention fixed on cricket. The Prime Minister wanted ideas. The Minister had responded with a proposal for a Ministry of Cricket The Prime Minister was pleased but also wanted the idea to be followed with quick administrative action. But that was not all.

A delegation of the sponsors had met him with a list of their demands. They were not satisfied that only 67.6 million had watched the finals. They had put in a lot of money and wanted more. India has a population of 1.21 billion and it was reasonable to expect that at least 500 million should watch the game. With so many people hooked to the television screens, commercials would reach a huge audience, which in turn could lead to a surge in purchases. Naturally, this would result in manufacturing growth, increased employment and more purchasing power.

The delegation also cautioned that all this will not be possible unless the game is supported by the government and built into an Institution. The Minister was impressed and the delegation left with a promise to build a cricket stadium in his village.

The Minister got down to work immediately. He was a man of destiny and this was his chance to leave his mark. His vision and plans soon took shape:

  • Cricket will drive –was that a pun?- the economy
  • There will be a Ministry of Cricket and, of course, the Minister would be honored to head it.
  • The Ministry would be run by the finest bureaucrats of the country so that cricketers can play cricket and ex-cricketers can commentate on matches.
  • There will be wide screen television sets in every office so that dedicated, hardworking employees do not miss a game
  • April 2 would be celebrated as World Cup day and declared a national holiday.The Department of Personnel will also be persuaded to add another category of leave. In addition to Earned Leave, Casual leave and Sick Leave, every employee would be entitled to seven days of Cricket Leave to watch at least one Test Match or a few one day or T20 games.
  • There will be an allowance so that employees may be able to travel to the match venues. An employee would be allowed to accumulate both leave and allowance for four years-enough to watch a full world cup
  • Exam schedules will be approved by the Ministry so that that they do not clash with match days. Students must be spared the stress of having to miss games because of exams
  • A special Act of Parliament was envisaged which will exempt cricketers from paying income tax (Farmers don’t pay tax, do they?). The Minister was also hopeful that gifts of cars, yachts, airplanes and such like would also not be taxed.
  • The Ministry will also look after the interests of cricketers who have sacrificed the best part of their lives. A special purpose vehicle will be formed to acquire land for houses and cricket academies.
There were more proposals. Indeed, the Minister’s head was brimming over with ideas. This was going to be definitive phase in Indian cricket and he wanted be known as the “game changer”.

"…eleven flannelled fools chasing a red ball, with eleven thousand fools cheering them" George Bernard Shaw

The Minister smiled as he recalled Kipling and Shaw. He had studied in England, was fashionably contemptuous of the British but, cricket- he just loved the game. In his mind, he strapped his pads and twirled his bat. He then squared his shoulders and strode to the Prime Minister's office.


Hitesh said...

This one's good. I would not be surprised if this blog falls short of reality.

And then, we always have a Prime Minister who will comfortably say that "he was not aware"!!

SRINAYAN said...

Thanks for visiting. Cricket was too tempting a topic too resist; and more so as it no longer is perceived as just a game. But the objective of this post was just to make us laugh at ourselves and wonder whether we are not carrying our passion too far.