Of cows and men
Sir — The choice of India’s new president and vice-president has not managed to please everyone in the country’s political circles. But if there is one person who has reasons to feel happy with the new incumbents, it is Maneka Gandhi, India’s very own crusader for animal rights. For one, both A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat are vegetarians. As if that were not enough, Shekhawat is waiting to move into the vice-presidential quarters with no less than four cows and three dogs (“Waiting till cows come home”, Aug 22). But Maneka Gandhi will not be pleased with one little detail from Shekhawat’s daily schedule: he drinks a glass of fresh milk from one of his favourite cows every morning. Will the former minister try to persuade the vice-president to give up his decades-long habit' Maneka Gandhi could also try to take advantage of the president’s “scientific temper” and prevail upon him to prevent the use of animals for clinical experiments.
Sushma Garodia, Kanpur
Sir — The editorial, “Players’ game” (Aug 21), presents a balanced view of the raging war of the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India with the Indian cricketers over the sponsorship regulations imposed by the ICC. The cricketers have a point. In no other sports are such demands as the ICC’s made of individual players or teams. For instance, Coca-Cola was the official sponsor of World Cup football 2002. But Pepsi sponsored the Brazilian team. There was no problem with Adidas sponsoring individual tennis players although French Open was sponsored by Nike. So why should it matter that some Indian players endorse Samsung products, while the mini-World Cup in Colombo will be sponsored by LG'
The ICC is clearly trying to don the mantle of the master in its relationship with the cricketers. It is strange that the boards are taking the ICC’s side. To take India’s example, the flourishing industry of cricket and the resultant riches of the BCCI are all thanks to the popularity of cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. It is quite typical of India that the management of cricket is entrusted to people who have little experience of playing the game.
It is a Catch-22 situation for the cricketers: if they sign the ICC contract, their sponsors will drag them to court for not fulfilling their contractual obligations, and if they do not, they will be out of international cricket for a few months at least. Given that a cricketer stays at the peak of his playing prowess for only about 15 years, what could be so wrong if they try to earn as much as they can while their names can still be used to promote brands'
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The green-eyed monster has got the better of the ICC. No employer wants his employees to earn more in terms of both money and popularity. But the ICC is making a basic mistake in thinking that it is the boss, while it is very evident that the players are in no way dependent on the ICC for their survival. When the likes of Imran Khan and Ian Botham joined Kerry Packer’s team and played some one-day matches, the boards could do little by boycotting them. The players were far too popular, and what they were trying to promote was overwhelmingly accepted by the people.
The government, in the current impasse, could have intervened to protect the rights of the players. But it has chosen not to do so. The solution would be to ensure a 50 per cent representation of former and current players in the ICC and the cricket boards.
M.R. Sridharan, Kanpur
Sir — The cricketing heroes of the country have proved beyond doubt what many have suspected — that they care far more about money than about playing for the country. They already earn astronomical sums as match fees, but that has not been able to whet their greed. They need some sort of comeuppance. Being out of the national team for a while might be that comeuppance. And what could be better than a second-rung team being sent to the mini-World Cup and performing brilliantly' What will happen to our overrated heroes then'
Biswapriya Purkayastha, Shillong
Sir — The BCCI’s decision to drop most of the players of the current Indian side for the mini-World Cup for refusing to sign ICC’s contract might actually do the cricketers some good. The national cricketers could do with a break after the long English summer.
But the fact remains that the Indian cricket board has bowed to pressure from the ICC. And who is Jagmohan Dalmiya trying to fool by saying that it was at the BCCI’s request that the ICC decided to make the contract valid for only the mini-World Cup' Has not Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief, clarified that the contract may be renewed for every tournament, but the clauses will remain exactly the same'
The reason some countries have no objections to the ICC regulations is only because their players do not get too many endorsement offers in any case. But what is sauce for the goose cannot be the same for the gander, just because the ICC would prefer to have it that way.
Manjul Saha, Rourkela
Sir — The finals of the NatWest trophy at Lord’s showed that while the Indian team has been let down by its star members several times in the past, the unheralded youngsters can pull off fabulous wins on their own steam. It will not be such a big loss if the stars are dropped and younger players inducted to replace them. Maybe India will then have a real team rather than a gathering of stars.
Bijoy K. Bhattacharya, Guwahati
Uncle Sam is a baddie
Sir — K.P. Nayar correctly points out the outdated mindset of the oldest political party of India (“Playing along with America”, Aug 7). The Congress is still caught in a time warp: it still thinks these are Cold War times and one must side with Russia against the United States of America. Little does it realize that pro-Soviet and anti-US policies have not got India anywhere since independence. The country continues to remain poor, underdeveloped, largely illiterate and socially backward.
While US mediation may not be welcome because of the current American alliance with Pakistan in the war on global terrorism, India could ask any of the other powerful nations to mediate and help solve the problem. The Congress should see reason and not shy away from all things American.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — That the US applies a set of standards for itself and its friends and a different one for the rest of the world is quite clear from its remarks on Kashmir. There is no doubt that its own interest comes before everything else for the US. That is why, in spite of knowing full well that Pakistan was the base of several Kashmiri militant outfits, it went ahead and allied with Pakistan during its operations against Afghanistan. Is this the way the world’s oldest democracy should behave'
Samir Banerjee, New Delhi