Sunday, 22 March 2009

A disaster for Indian cricket; an even greater disaster for India

The organisers of the Indian Premier League will have to move the tournament outside of India following the refusal of the chief ministers of Maharashtra- the state capital of which, Mumbai, was attacked in November last year by Kashmiri separatist terrorists- and Andhra Pradesh refused to provide the requisite security alongside the Lok Sabha elections. It has descended into an unseemly blame game between the government and the states.

You have to have sympathy for the millions of Indians who would have participated in this remarkable tournament both inside and outside cricket stadiums. But what does this say about India? The authorities are clearly spooked by both the Mumbai atrocities but also the attacks that occurred on Sri Lankan cricketers on Pakistani soil earlier this month.

This is all a disaster for modern India. IPL is a symbol of new globally powerful, self confident nation, that not only maintains its culture but exports it to the rest of the world. Cricket is fundamental to this as is the sheer financial power of IPL. However, if due to a mixture of security concern, bureaucratic wrangling and lack of leadership it can't secure the full benefits of 20-20 cricket then it will fail to fulfil its potential.

All this leaves the feeling of a nation that is on the verge something very special but is held back nonetheless. Politicians in both New Delhi and in state capitals should have found a way of unblocking this situation. It makes India look like it is not quite ready to fully embrace the its future. That should have been avoided. The terrorists have won- the economic and cultural impact will be felt- but so have the bureaucrats. A sad day.

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