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31 August 2013

Sriram Narayanan on: Indian cricket

The Indian cricket fan shouldn’t get bogged down by gambling and match-fixing. It’s in our blood and our spirituality. Look at our roads

Sriram Narayanan
Car image



Now that the Indian cricket team has won the Mini World Cup Champions League Trophy Series or whatever this thing that the Indian cricket team has won was called, I am sure everything will be back to normal. MS Dhoni can continue holding stakes in a company that manages player endorsements.

N Srinivisan, who ‘stepped aside’ so that investigations over match-fixing in the IPL can be conducted in a free and fair manner, can come right back. And S Sreesanth, who is currently on a pilgrimage to every temple in the land, can go back to snorting into towels, scratching his bum or whatever he does before bowling a, erm, coughspecialcough over.

To all of you shocked at the presence of gambling, fixing and conflicts of interest in Indian cricket, all I have to say to you is this: Don’t like it? Don’t watch it. Because you, dear reader, can’t quite appreciate how we walk that fine line between danger and adventure. When we construct houses, we look at floor space index, the number of the house, or the floor, feng shui and vaastu.

I am sure all of your houses have been planned based on one or all of this. But how many of you have a fire escape, or sprinklers or even a small fire extinguisher hung on a wall in your homes? So you see, we thrive on taking a gamble, fixing things in a way that assumes they are not to occur naturally, or logically.

When people see a guy gunning down the road with his wife and two or three toddlers on his motorcycle, what the narrow-minded among them will see is a guy putting the life of his own self and some very small children in grave danger. People who understand the Indian psyche, though, will say he is just reaping the benefits of his karma.

Since he has committed no sin in his past life, he can ride with his wife and kids with him standing on the fuel tank for all he wants, and he’d still be in no danger. It is this confidence that eggs him on to not think one bit before taking the gamble of carrying his entire family on two wheels. And a gamble worth taking, because he commutes with his entire family without spending money on buses, cabs, or worse, a car.

What do you do when you are turning at a roundabout and suddenly see a vehicle coming right at you from the opposite direction? Mouth expletives? Panic brake? Frantically veer out of the way? With this rash behaviour of yours, you entirely miss the saintly, apologetic smile of the driver coming the wrong way.

It’s a smile that mirrors a refreshing outlook to life. It’s an outlook that says, what has to happen, will happen, despite our best efforts. So do what you have to do and do not worry about the results. The saintly chap was only doing what he had to do. And because you veered away, his gamble paid off. By coming the wrong way, he reached his destination a couple of minutes faster, saved fuel by traversing a shorter distance, and made you believe in miracles and god.

India’s 2011 population census says you and I are two out of the 121,07,26,932 people who call this country home. So shall we say 121 crore, or 1.21 billion people? Out of this humungous number, only 4.97 lakh accidents occurred in 2011. Of this, only 1.42 lakh people died and only 5.11 lakh were injured in 2011.

Still, these figures are miniscule, given the number of people that we are as a country, and considering how Regional Transport Offices all over the country issue licenses after driving tests that involve simple procedures like starting the car or turning the wheel in either direction. The sensitive among us will lament the needless loss of life, but the great minds that work across the nation will think the RTO’s gamble is a risk worth taking. It’s so much less bother than actually learning to drive – or teaching it – properly.

So really, when we religiously, piously and vociferously put our lives on the line inside and outside our homes, what’s a few lakh rupees, or a reputation or two over a simple cricket match.

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