May 01, 2011

A Dubious and Tenuous Basis

The unusual sway that cricket holds over people of India represents a cause for concern. The extraordinary sense of joy expressed when the Indian cricket team won the World Cup was quite out of line with the actual achievement.

The achievement, such as it was, was simply this. The Indian team won a few cricket matches. Cricket by definition is a rather unpredictable game that has many vagaries.

Cricket is played in precious few nations of the world. Keeping in mind the population of those other countries puts things in a rather stark perspective.

Here is the COMPLETE LIST of countries (and their populations) where cricket is played with some seriousness: England (60 million), Australia (20 million), New Zealand (3 million), South Africa (40 million), India (1,200 million), Pakistan (150 million), Bangladesh (150 million), Sri Lanka (20 million), and West Indies (1 million).

As the population figures show, the entire world of cricket will easily fit inside India.

Population figures apart, there is a deeper question. What does it say about Indians if they can attach a sense of national pride with the 'team' winning a game of cricket. Clearly, the team comprises a few young men who have a very specific set of skills and this skill is rather useless in many ways. In giving pride of place to people with this skill, people of India are making their choices very clear.

It would appear that for Indians, cricketing skills are more important than many other kinds of skills. What other skills are Indians dismissing by choosing them over cricket?

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