Outsourcing of a Revolution will not work.

They say cricket is a religion in our country. So here is a thought for you to consider. The world cup was not won for us by umpires. It was won by players, each of whom played a role. In each and every interview, the players talked about all the hard work they had put in to that effort. The rising expectations and emotions that were swirling all around. Yet they focused.
That’s true for nation building too. Lets ask ourselves, “Are we playing well?”.
The news, these days, is full of the debate on corruption and the individual who is fasting. While one respects the moral authority of the person who has undertaken the fast and believes his efforts are laudable. The question that keeps coming up in my mind is – “will it change anything?”. After all the person who will be appointed to this position will likely face the same tugs and pressures that all the other upright officers and leaders face. It seems like we are seeking to appoint an umpire who, we feel, will then help us win the national ethics cup.
The mere act of an umpire declaring someone out is not the only step that helps a team win a match. In fact, that is merely the decision that has been taken basis the action on field of play. A bowler with skill and effort keeps the batsmen in check and as some commentators would say keeps the batsmen honest. If a bowler does not bowl well, however, the umpire cannot give someone out.
Similarly for the batsmen, to be granted a four or six simply because they expect one is not enough.
Watching the noise and fury around the fast, the primary reason for it and the suggested solution, I felt that we as a nation are expecting shortcuts to solve a fundamental issue that ails the country today. We expect to appoint an umpire who, we feel, will act in all fairness all the time. Cricket tells us, it will not work.
So here are some thoughts :

1. Instead of expressing rage periodically, are we willing to work hard and ask tough questions?

Following up on progress each month and making course corrections will help keep the so called leaders in check. There are enough provisions provided we decide to use them. Super umpires are not the answers to our problems. Pegging away one ball at a time will definitely provide results.
Are we willing to set exacting standards for ourselves? No exceptions, just the way it would be for public servants and others. So no going down the wrong side or breaking traffic lights, free passes to cricket matches and then the more complex issues that still need to be addressed.
UDRS is simply a support mechanism for on ground officials. The review is rarely used simply because these officials get the job done even under pressure. To expect UDRS to be used as the primary and absolute decision making authority would be setting grounds for failure. Let’s not get into absolute measures like super umpires and instead focus on strengthening the hand of on ground officials by exceptional conduct at all times.

2. Are we willing to face moral and social issues?

On the issue of conduct, it is not just financial conduct that is at the core of our nation’s problem. Instead there are moral and social issues that need our attention. Not rage, but hard work and behaviour change. What am i pointing to? The Girl Child is but one example of our moral laxity.
Just a few days ago, census data revealed a shocking complicity of each of us. Some who would have acted against the girl child and some who have either remained silent and most who have failed to raise their voice against this corruption.
It was disturbing to see that most of the discussions around this topic were distant and clinical in nature. As though somehow this was less important and not to be discussed. Not to be discussed because we are complicit in our moral turpitude or we do not want to take a stand because asking uncomfortable questions within our social circle is not ok?

3. Criticism is not enough, neither are candle light marches.

In cricket, hard work helps deliver a watch winning performance. Good cricketers let their performances talk and one does not run down officials and opponents in place of performance. Time is spent in the nets, skills added and weaknesses removed forever. 30 second sound bytes do not win matches.
Similarly in civil society, can we start the process of improvement not by insulting and bypassing constitutional provisions regarding law making processes, or appointing super umpires but by correcting weaknesses in our conduct? Debate and healthy criticism is good provided we move beyond the 30 second sound byte model of nation building. Our actions matter, Everyday.
Finally, lighting the candle and marches are all good and maybe make us feel we have contributed but the real contributions will be in our day to day actions because a large part of it has nothing to do with government.
Do not depend on super umpires because Outsourcing of a Revolution will not work.

6 responses

  1. Timely and thought-provoking post. But since you draw a parallel with cricket, you probably know the IPL starts today. It is a sign of the times, isn’t it? That our attention spans get shorter and we move on swiftly from World Cup’s historic win (I mean 28 years is a long wait) to blink-and-you-miss-it games of the IPL. Likewise in public debates we flit from issue to issue, putting out soundbites and opinions. As they say in ye olde country, the way we conduct politics in India is just not cricket.

    • Luckily, I have not watched any game of IPL and it is not going to change this year either.
      There is a belief that 30 Second view and one’s karma is done. There is scope for improvement in that thought.

      • You are merely demonstrating consistency in your approach to complex issues. 🙂 Ask any mad IPL follower and I am sure the probability that he/ she already has a well-entrenched – not necessarily well-substantiated – opinion on this Anna Hazare business will be substantially higher than 50%.

  2. Loved it Syamant! Great and well timed post. ‘One ball at a time is the way to go for nation building’. We are on the brink of moral bankruptcy — It is now or never.

    • Thank You!
      Just a bit concerned that the voice that is being heard on television is just one aspect of the story. Hope all perspectives are taken into consideration.
      Hope the leaders do something for the good without the pressure . People need to understand their role too.

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