Thursday, March 24, 2011

200 million batted for Team India y’day. Imagine if a billion batted for Nation India

This was the one bet I was so so happy to lose! My post of a few days back (“I wish India had lost y’day to WI” – March 20th) mentioned my deep fear of playing the Aussies. I bet heavily (Rs 200 is heavy for me!) on Team Australia yesterday because I was aware that I NEVER EVER win bets! That was the least I could do for Team India. While the playing 11 get the full credit for the match y’day, it’s the 200 million or so expected viewers who cheered Team India along who deserve the real credit for the victory.

There were many moments in the match when it looked like we had lost all. The entire nation went into prayers. Then there were moments when we crossed one milestone after another. The entire nation cheered. India made 150....then 200 and then 250. After Dhoni was out, it was up to Yuvi and Raina and we cheered every boundary they hit; every appeal against them that was turned down. We played y’day’s match as one nation. Victory was but obvious.

I had first mentioned the power of cheering when I wrote my piece on the Bombay marathon in the middle of Jan (“So much in common between the marathon and the Indian economy” – Jan 16th). That’s when I first stated that it’s the lacs of cheering Bombay-ites who make the marathon happen. When a runner is running a grinding 21 or 42 kms, he/she needs every single person on the street to cheer him or her. Imagine now if there were actually thousands on the street who booed him; called him a fatso; joked about his girth and mocked him for his occasional stumble. Imagine if a few people cheated and tried to take short cuts, and the crowds booed them.....but continued to cheer the ones who didn’t break the rules. That’s the kind of environment we need for Nation India also all the time.

The parallels between Team India and Nation India are too many to be mere coincidence. Nation India is rated the #2 fastest growing economy. So is Team India in ODIs (ranked #2 worldwide). Nation India is #1 in the BPO business. Team India is #1 in 5-day matches. There are a few black sheep in Nation India. Ditto with Team India. The entire world looks up to Nation India (and China) to lift the global economy. The entire world looks at Team India to lift the WC. Nation India (forex reserves $300 billion; 6th largest) and China ($2.6 trillion; largest) fund the world’s deficit; Team India funds cricket’s deficit (India is the biggest funder of cricket worldwide. A majority of the money in cricket comes because of Nation India funding Team India). There is no difference really between Team India and Nation India.

In reality though, there is one difference between Team India and Nation India. A big difference. The difference is in the kind of support we give to the two. When it comes to cricket, we never crib and complain about our cricketers. We treat them like gods. We don’t allow cricket anchors Ravi Shastri or Sunil Gavaskar or Harsha Bhogle to run down our cricketers. Yet we allow news anchors Arnab and Rajdeep to derail our nation. We burst crackers when we cross a milestone in a crucial match. We never do that when the nation does the same (we became a trillion $ economy in 2008.....did we burst crackers then?). This is the difference that we as citizens of India need to remove. And if we did that, there would be no stopping Nation India......just as there is no stopping Team India!

There is a reason why the anchors on cricket channels provide the right environment while those on our news channels don’t. Cricket channels anchors are mostly past cricketers. They’ve played the game and they know what effort goes into winning a game. They know that there are moments when all looks lost. They know that it’s only our love and affection and belief in our team that can get it back into shape. Arnab and Rajdeep have never ever run a nation. They have no idea how much sweat and grind goes into running a nation. They have never made policies that affect a billion people; so they don’t realize that there will always be shortcomings. They have never gone into rural India; so they don’t even know what rural India really exit from financial penury.

Rajdeep and Arnab tend to paint all our politicians with one brush. They make us think that all of them are corrupt. They don’t realize that till the time we don’t allow (rather, enforce) legal funding of elections, we will never be able to stop corruption. Even if you or I were to fight elections, we would need to become “corrupt” in this limited sense. We fail to differentiate between institutional corruption (stealing money to fund elections) and individual corruption (stealing money for personal gain and greed). Yet, they (Arnab and Rajdeep) never work at removing the need for stealing money; they complain instead about the theft itself. We pay our babus a pittance; and yet they (Arnab and Rajdeep) complain when they get a raise. We get paid lacs in salary; yet the seniormost babu gets paid less than even a trainee in the corporate world. Yet they (Arnab and Rajdeep) never try to build public opinion to correct this. We have to introspect. Are we providing Nation India the kind of support we are providing Team India?

I know a lot of you will say “But the cricketers have shown us success....what about our politicians?”. Actually, even the politicians have shown success. Do you know that an estimated 200 million people of India have been taken out of poverty in the last 20 years? Just look around you; so many people live a decent respectful life today.....chauffeurs, car mechanics, phone repairers, DTH and broadband technicians, McDonald’s delivery boys.....their families lived a life of penury just 2 decades back.  Today, they may not be rich, but they don’t need to worry about the basic necessities. Yes, there are many more still waiting to be lifted out. But the way to lift them out is by believing in ourselves. Not by tarnishing the reputation of our politicians and babus. I am told more than 80% of our MPs actually live very modest lives.....most of them work really hard.....but we tend to think that all of them are corrupt. Let’s not do that.

The World Champion in the world of business is the US (the Australia of business as it were). They’re being challenged strongly by an emerging challenger (Pakistan in cricket; China in business). Now’s the time for us to challenge the challenger. Now’s the time to grow at 10%+ even as China slows down to below 10. Now’s the time to get into a huddle as one nation; just as the cricketers get into a huddle before the start of a crucial match. This is the time which will shape our future; take us out of the muck that has surrounded us for several hundred years. These are the slog overs. Let’s not waste them. Very soon, we’ll have the batting power play to help us too! Victory is not very far.....let’s stay focused and united.

The real truth is that if we could back Nation India the same way as we back Team India, there would be nothing that could stop us. Nothing can stop us from becoming the world’s foremost country. The world believes in us. Do we????  

1 comment:

  1. wow, Prashant this article was too good