The Two Gs, Cricket And Elizabeth
I wonder if the two Gs (Gurumurthy and George Fernandes) have a view on touring cricket teams or Elizabeth Intacta. I can speculate on what their view might be.
Touring teams can't play well, especially if they lose, because playing fields are not level. Delhi has smog, Cuttack doesn't have a five-star hotel, the prawn curry in Madras is poisoned, Indian beer has glycerine, Indian beans are washed in unhygienic water and there are train journeys to Jamshedpur. Add to this heat, dust, crowds, noise, wickets and umpiring.
Ideally, one wouldn't like touring cricket teams at all. Unlike kabaddi, cricket is a non-priority sector. But a ban is not possible, even though one can create an atmosphere so that touring cricket teams know that they are not welcome.
However, one must be fair. If touring teams are expected to compete on equal terms on Indian soil, they must be granted special and differential treatment. You can't chain them up and expect them to go out and bat. There should be a period of transition, initially for seven to 10 years and because innate disadvantages will never be removed, protection can eventually become open-ended and permanent.
Instead of the traditional outside-in approach to globalised cricket matches, this will be the inside-out approach of liberalisation. Liberalisation and modernisation must come before globalisation. Thus, touring teams will be given a handicap through fewer runs to score or fewer batsmen to bowl out.
>The handicap can be graded as the extent of protection required will vary according to the venue, the quality of the crowd and so on. Conversely, Indian teams will be granted a handicap when they travel overseas.
It is difficult to make playing fields level, but one can try. Cricket is no different from industry. Indian industry must have global standards of infrastructure and procedures and global interest rates. To the extent it doesn't, it must be protected from competition.
Or take the case of wages. Indian industry doesn't pay global wages either and, therefore, suffers from inferior labour services. Can one hike Indian wage rates? Nor are environmental standards global and this must also be globalised.
This is precisely the reason why WTO agreements need to be renegotiated. For example, we can renegotiate the agreement on cross-border movements of labour and export some of our bureaucracy abroad. This will bring down procedural standards abroad.
It will also contribute to administrative reforms and bring down the size of government. Similarly, since the new government does not believe in bringing down the debt service ratio, it can borrow extensively abroad and raise global interest rates to make them on par with Indian interest rates.
Increasingly, the WTO has begun to dabble in areas that were not part of Gatt's original mandate. Services is an example and is nothing but part of the bhagidari sector.
Cricket players provide a service and Tendulkar for example, pays a much higher interest rate on the visa card he flashes around. And he has to use Rs 40, instead of Rs 17, for every dollar he spends. (For that matter, Sushmita Sen also suffers from inefficient cargo handling and it might be possible to extend the same principle to Miss Universe contests).
Therefore, cricket-playing rules must be renegotiated and this is part of our hidden agenda at the WTO, a uniform cricket code that levels the fields.
I forgot about Elizabeth Intacta. Shekhar Kapur poses a threat to English culture by suggesting that Elizabeth I was not a virgin.
This is no different from the threat to Indian culture posed by Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's. But the British have not imbibed the swadeshi spirit despite the presence of overseas friends in London, and therefore, Britain must also be built by Indians.
This can be ensured by preventing Indian directors from making films in areas where British directors can manage on their own and have the requisite skills.
Such a clause can be incorporated while negotiating the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), where major issues like cross-border movements of film directors have not even addressed. Indian directors will henceforth be locked in to queens of the bandit variety.
Saturday April 4, 1998