Studying from the traditional Greeks


There isn’t any purpose why India and Pakistan can’t resume bilateral cricketing ties these days.

SPORT and politics have at all times blended. Virtually 2,800 years in the past, the Greeks realised that sport was a political weapon in addition to a diplomatic software. The traditional Olympics, held each 4 years in Olympia, was accompanied by an “ekecheiria” or truce. The truce, ratified by all of the Greek states, assured the security of contributors and spectators travelling to and from the positioning of the video games and likewise prevented armies from coming into Elis (the city-state the place Olympia was situated) and disrupting the video games. Some have even claimed that wars have been suspended through the video games on account of the truce. Whether or not the truce had such a far-reaching impact stays unresolved. What’s fascinating is that the traditional Greeks, whose city-states have been incessantly at warfare with each other, shared the assumption that sport and mental exchanges – a significant element of the traditional Olympics – may happen in a civil ambiance amidst variations and conflicts.

There isn’t any higher modern instance of the interaction of politics and sport than cricket within the sub-continent. In response to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s “hand of friendship” provide to Pakistan in late April, Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali instructed that revival of sporting contacts might be a “good starting”. In an interview to NDTV on June 13, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf stated: “I would love cricket and all sporting ties to renew… however cricket is a trivial situation. And let me inform you that my gamers do not wish to play in India.” Ever since Jamali proposed a renewal of sporting ties, the query of India-Pakistan cricket has been within the news. The 2 nations have agreed to renew cricket on the junior stage and the Indian under-19 workforce is planning to participate in a tri-nation match in Pakistan in August and September. Any true revival of sporting ties should foreground the resumption of cricket between the senior sides of the 2 nations. In response to the ten-year plan of the Worldwide Cricket Council (ICC), Pakistan’s senior aspect is scheduled to tour India in February 2004.

Troubled sporting relations are an age-old phenomenon. The expulsion of South Africa from the worldwide sporting neighborhood on account of its apartheid insurance policies was partly accountable for the downfall of the inhumane system. The US and its allies boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics and 4 years later, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and its supporters reciprocated by withdrawing from the Los Angeles video games. Curiously, some U.S. allies together with Nice Britain, France, Sweden and Italy participated within the Moscow Olympics though their governments have been in favour of a boycott. The Olympic associations in these nations are unbiased our bodies and the ultimate determination relating to participation rests within the palms of the associations themselves. In Britain, the British Olympic Affiliation voted to ship its athletes to Moscow regardless of robust opposition and strain from the Thatcher authorities. Regardless of the Olympic boycotts, the U.S. and USSR maintained some semblance of sporting contacts through the Chilly Battle. Whereas they competed in opposition to one another within the Olympics and different multilateral competitions, there was a bilateral element to their sporting exchanges. U.S. – USSR twin meets in disciplines comparable to monitor and area, wrestling and gymnastics have been an everyday characteristic and the 2 nations took turns to host the occasion. One of the memorable U.S. – USSR twin monitor and area meets was held in Moscow in July 1961, barely three months after the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Indian and Pakistani cricket groups first competed in opposition to one another in 1952 and even then, there have been differing views on the rationale of India-Pakistan cricket. Though the Pakistani workforce’s first go to to India in 1952 was incident-free, it met with protests from the Hindu Mahasabha in Nagpur and Kolkata. The Hindu Mahasabha president at the moment, Dr. N.B. Khare, remarked: “Pakistan is intent upon ousting her undesirable inhabitants by the strategy of intimidation, which incorporates outraged acts on womanhood. It’s deplorable that at this an identical interval India has invited the Pakistan cricket workforce right here… I regard this motion as an ignoble one devoid of any sense of honour and self-respect and an index of the depth of our ethical and nationwide degradation” (Ramchandra Guha, A Nook of a International Subject, 2002). The groups performed one another thrice between 1952 and 1961 however didn’t play in any respect between 1961 and 1978. Within the interval 1978-1989, there have been seven Take a look at collection between the 2 groups. The final Take a look at collection between them in India in early 1999 went forward regardless of opposition from the Shiv Sena, whose activists even broken the pitch in Delhi weeks earlier than a Take a look at was scheduled to be performed there. The groups have met in one-day internationals tournaments by way of the 1990s.

Few different sporting encounters have the emotional depth of an India-Pakistan recreation. It’s cricket itself and followers in numerous nations who’ve misplaced by way of the refusal of the 2 nations to play one another. It’s a disgrace that the careers of Wasim Akram and Sachin Tendulkar have coincided throughout one of many lowest factors in India-Pakistan cricketing relations. Akram made his debut in 1984-85, 5 years earlier than Tendulkar, and has performed 12 Take a look at matches in opposition to India (roughly 11.5 per cent of the 104 Assessments he has performed). Tendulkar, however, has performed solely seven Assessments in opposition to Pakistan (roughly 6.7 per cent of the 105 Assessments he has performed). By means of comparability, Akram has performed 19 Assessments (18.27 per cent of his whole Assessments), and Sachin has performed 13 Assessments (12.four per cent) in opposition to Sri Lanka.

The Pakistani workforce throughout its victory lap within the Chidambaram stadium through the India-Pakistan Take a look at collection of 1998-99. A sporting Chennai crowd did the nation proud by giving the Pakistanis a standing ovation.-N. BALAJI

Indian and Pakistani gamers have, by and huge, acquired alongside properly on and off the sphere. This was notably true when the 2 nations met ceaselessly. Nonetheless, with India-Pakistan matches changing into uncommon, a match between the 2 nations has change into a high-pressure scenario. There may be an excessive amount of at stake in a single recreation such because the March 1 conflict within the 2003 World Cup. The burden positioned on Indian cricketers is already extreme however it’s magnified when Pakistan is concerned. The strain cooker scenario may be introduced below management provided that the 2 groups play in opposition to one another within the regular course.

It has been instructed that cricket ought to resume solely when relations between the 2 nations are extra beneficial. There might by no means be an ideal time to resume cricketing ties, particularly because the two nations have been engaged in low-scale warfare since Independence. Little doubt, Pakistan has actively aided cross-border terrorism however the authorities has indicated that the time is beneficial sufficient to renew commerce, journey and diplomatic hyperlinks. If the Lahore-Delhi bus service may be resumed and commerce with Pakistan can happen, why cannot the 2 groups compete on a cricket area? It has additionally been contended that cricket can’t enhance relations between the 2 nations. This will certainly be true however boycotting bilateral sporting ties with Pakistan has not stopped terrorism both.

Whereas bilateral sporting ties have been absent since Kargil, the federal government appears extra amenable to contact in different sports activities. Whilst lately as early June, the Indian hockey workforce participated in a four-team match in Australia that concerned Pakistan. Indian and Pakistani athletes in different disciplines, together with squash, tennis and volleyball, have performed in one another’s nation through the interval bilateral cricket ties have been suspended. If cricket matches are being boycotted on account of nationwide coverage, why is that this not equally utilized to all sports activities? If enjoying Pakistan is only an ethical situation, then the excellence between bilateral and multilateral occasions doesn’t make a lot sense. Additional, bilateral ties is probably not relevant within the strict sense to all sports activities. India lower off all sporting contact with South Africa within the apartheid period and even forfeited the 1974 Davis Cup closing to South Africa, presumably surrendering its finest probability to win the distinguished occasion. Technically, the Davis Cup is a multilateral match, though particular person matches are performed in one of many nations concerned.

Cricket does provoke ardour within the two nations like no different sport however the authorities, media and, more and more, industrial pursuits have, to some extent, been accountable for creating the immense hype surrounding India-Pakistan cricket matches. Whereas hockey’s reputation is lower than cricket’s within the sub-continent, Indo-Pakistan hockey video games are usually comparatively low-key affairs, partly as a result of they aren’t hyped. It should be recognised that cricket is merely a recreation and doesn’t deserve particular remedy the place Pakistan is worried. The federal government and the media should cease inserting extreme emphasis on India-Pakistan cricket matches. For a begin, the tendency to make use of metaphors of warfare in relation to cricket matches should cease.

The civility that Indian and Pakistani gamers are likely to exhibit has been absent within the crowd. For too a few years now, cricket within the two nations has carried with it the bags of hyper nationalism. As Ramachandra Guha factors out: “Sporting nationalism has at all times been most intense the place there’s a basic feeling of insecurity or inferiority… integration of the world by way of tv and liberalisation of India’s personal economic system have made comparisons with different nations extra apparent and fewer palatable… India ranks 150 within the World Improvement Report, just under Namibia and simply above Haiti. It’s the cricketers, and so they alone, who’re requested to redeem these failures” (A Nook of a International Subject). Hyper nationalism tends to translate itself into boorish and unruly behaviour from sections of the group. Poor crowd behaviour shouldn’t be particular to India-Pakistan video games. One of the shameful moments in Indian cricket historical past was the 1996 World Cup semi-final in Kolkata, when the match was awarded to Sri Lanka resulting from hooliganism within the stands. Extra lately, within the 2002 India-West Indies collection, crowds in Jamshedpur, Nagpur and Rajkot resorted to throwing stones and bottles and setting small fires within the first three ODIs. India-Pakistan matches have, at instances, introduced out excessive reactions from the group. Within the 1998-99 India-Pakistan Take a look at collection, a sporting Chennai crowd did the nation proud by giving the victorious Pakistani workforce a standing ovation. However the goodwill generated in Chennai was shattered days later in Kolkata when the stadium needed to be cleared of cricket hooligans.

Eden Gardens, Kolkata, February 19, 1999. The stadium needed to be emptied following violent crowd behaviour throughout an India-Pakistan Take a look at match.-V.V. KRISHNAN

When exaggerated stakes are positioned in India-Pakistan matches, crowd behaviour tends to deteriorate and feelings change into extremely charged. This was evident when India beat Pakistan on this yr’s World Cup. There have been no violent acts however some followers on each side resorted to chanting disagreeable and infrequently communally tinged slogans in opposition to one another. It was unhappy to listen to Indian supporters boasting to the media that beating Pakistan was nearly as good as successful the World Cup. Little doubt, a Pakistani win would have aroused the identical sentiment amongst its supporters. The typical Indian fan is now not gracious sufficient to acknowledge the efficiency of a participant belonging to a rival workforce. Extra reprehensible is the truth that after virtually 56 years of Independence, the patriotism of Indian Muslims is questioned throughout India-Pakistan cricket matches. Even in a seemingly cosmopolitan metropolis like Bangalore, there have been violent acts directed at Muslims after India’s victory over Pakistan within the 2003 World Cup.

The strain of Indo-Pakistan cricket matches can solely be eliminated if the groups play one another extra usually. The novelty of the “conflict” will likely be eliminated, feelings will likely be much less charged, and excessive stakes won’t be positioned on a single recreation. Furthermore, the purpose should be pushed house that there isn’t any spiritual, cultural or every other form of non-sporting significance to a cricket match. It’s virtually at all times a small part of followers that causes disturbances throughout video games. Cricket hooliganism shouldn’t be unique to India-Pakistan matches and matches can’t be cancelled on account of the concern {that a} small part might disrupt proceedings.

The present stage of mutual mistrust between civilians in India and Pakistan could be very excessive. For years, there was no demonstrable ailing will between civilians themselves on each side however at this time odd residents on each side are completely misinformed about one another. Together with political steps, sporting, cultural and other people to folks contact should be inspired. Indians and Pakistanis are likely to co-exist peacefully exterior the subcontinent and social interplay is likely one of the primary causes for this. Such interplay should be inspired within the subcontinent, partly by way of the instrumentality of cricket, a potent non-political affect.

The safety angle has usually been cited by each governments as a purpose to cancel India-Pakistan cricket excursions. There have certainly been terrorist threats to Indian cricketers nevertheless it should even be recognised that politicians of each nations have, up to now, performed the safety card to cover political motives and cancel cricket matches. Each nations will need to have a zero-tolerance coverage with regard to safety issues and crowd behaviour. The federal government has indicated that it’s secure sufficient to renew diplomatic, commerce and transport hyperlinks and this perhaps a sign that cricket may begin. New Zealand withdrew from its Pakistan tour in Might 2002 after a bomb blast exterior the workforce’s lodge. It additionally refused to play a World Cup match in Kenya for safety causes however New Zealand has now agreed to play 5 one-day internationals in Pakistan in November this yr. There have additionally been ideas that India and Pakistan ought to play at impartial venues. Nonetheless, cricket in impartial venues takes the sheen off the sport. Enjoying in impartial venues is a short lived resolution at finest and the true spirit of sporting ties can solely be revived if sport is performed in India and Pakistan. There isn’t any purpose why the 2 nations can’t observe the instance of the bellicose historic Greeks and play cricket for its personal sake.

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