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Sight Screen

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The perils of silence

Five and a half years back, in April 2000, under pressure after the match fixing scandal broke to clean up its act, the BCCI had produced a document which was termed a code of conduct for players.

A day after it was released, Prem had done an analysis of it on Rediff, and had ripped it to shreds very systematically (as it deserved to be). He had also, in that article, made a crucial point: that it was important for the players to speak out against this, because if they didnt, as Harsha Bhogle said, they would only be asking for more trouble as time went on.

Injustice tends feeds on itself.

Five and a half years down the line, and in the midst of all this drama over Saurav Ganguly, maybe the same principle is at work, albeit differently.

Never mind the "opinions", the tag of "greatest ever captain" or even the cliched "prepare for the future, for the 2007 WC". People will believe what they want to believe, based on their perceptions and their notions.

The least that can be done in this case, is to make sure that all the facts that are known. If, after that, some choose to believe a wrong decision has been made, that injustice has been done, and it can only be set right by holding dharnas, burning effigies, and staging mock funerals, then so be it. A free country has to afford its citizens that right.

In this whole mess, have we even heard from, or tried to hear or ask, the people who really matter, whose knowledge and opinions will lead to justice being dealt to everyone? John Wright, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid? Why havent they spoken? Or for that matter, even Saurav Ganguly?

Every other Tom, Dick and Harry has spoken, given his opinion on how SG needs to regain form, what he should do to get his place back in the side, on what ails Team India and so forth. Yet, the people who matter, at the very center of this controversy, have chosen to remain silent.

And have thus taken this far, far beyond what it should have been. With their silence, the rumor mills have worked overtime, and everybody with a personal agenda has jumped in to exploit this mess. Forget politicans and actors in India, Graeme Smith used it to whatever extent he could during the recent ODI series, and now all of Pakistan is trying their best to use it to play mind games too.

This is not to blame Ganguly or Dravid or Wright or Tendulkar. It is a pretty damning indictment of the "system" that Indian cricket is, that insecurity is rife everywhere, and no one dares to speak out.

Yet, essentially, if we stop and think, we might want to consider the fact that it is precisely that tendency, to remain silent, that often leads to crises happening, and controversies existing when they had no right to exist in the first place.

With all due respect to Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar, this is not about "Old India vs New India" or "excellence vs compromise". It is about creating a system where the truth can be aired freely and the people who succeed are those who voice their opinions and the system permits them to do so.


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