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IPL woes


Shahrukh Khan’s children got probably their first experience of being shooed off a premises at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday, having undoubtedly had privileged access almost everywhere all of their young lives. However, Shahrukh spent his youth in Delhi and will have the response to pugnacious security guards hardwired in his system. He responded as would any true-blooded North-Indian to, going by his allegation, his children being pushed around. This is the natural born right of every Indian, unavailable, of course in other parts of the world, such as the United States, where also he seems to fall foul of the security people quite consistently.
Being banned from the Wankhede Stadium for five years is not exactly going to cost SRK any sleep. He could respond by banning all MCA members from ‘Mannat’ for an equal period. At the same time, however, the ban – though excessive considering the circumstances – is a good message to the general public that there are certain rules that do not allow flexibility for anybody. Of course, rules have to be implemented with courtesy even if firmly, but it will take a long time for such a culture to take hold in India’s security men. Enforcing discipline at sports venues is a worldwide problem and even the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and MAK ‘Pataudi’ have had their way barred at places like Lords. Cricket is a game that has mostly well behaved fans, but consider, however, what would happen at soccer venues if security arrangements were not at their maximum.
Kudos to the anonymous securityman who dared to take on a ‘big gun’ for the sake of his duty; also, to the MCA for having stood by him and its rules! Unfortunately, even though the MCA Board took cognisance of SRK’s ‘unrepentant’ behaviour from his televised statement, it did not do the same with his allegation that the children in his entourage, including girls, were ‘manhandled’. One does not have to be a Bollywood superstar to take umbrage at this, it would be, and is, the natural reaction of any father in the everyday world. From that point of view, five years is clearly too long a period and almost deliberate in its intent to hurt, rather than penalise. It also shows the arbitrary manner in which power is exercised in this country.
It is also a fact that celebrities are a soft mark almost everywhere. People react to them for all sorts of reasons, not all of them above board. Some of the immediate responses from among his own industry were shocking in the delight they took at his discomfiture. The comparisons with his frequent run-ins with security at US airports ignored the fact that India is SRK’s home, while the US is not. The kind of abuse directed against him on internet sites at the present clearly indicates how envy explodes in dangerously destructive mass hysteria. Let it not be forgotten when the next time someone protests against the high-handedness of cops or uniformed personnel!
The unfortunate part is that the lobby gunning for the IPL for a variety of reasons has found this incident and a subsequent one involving a player who allegedly molested a woman in a hotel as further ammunition to ‘rein in’ this highly successful and popular tournament. Even before this controversy, much was made of the bragging and greed displayed by some fringe players, claiming that it was part of major irregularities in the IPL. It must be remembered in this context that the spectators will follow the sport for as long as there are good performances. The day fixing and the money-making orientation takes away from this aspect, those gunning for the IPL will need to do nothing – it will collapse on its own. Even the ‘noora-kushti’ of WWF requires enormous skill to keep going. Cricket may be a religion in India, but it doesn’t need priests to issue fatwas on what is right and what is not. The game is popular because almost every Indian has played it and understands the finer points. The people are the best judge of IPL’s worth.