Tug of war
Sir — Sport has always been able to transcend barriers. It can bring together a nation torn apart by strife. But while this is true of other countries around the world, it has been proved that this age old belief does not work in India. Tennis in India has little to boast of, but is determined to prove that it does not need an opponent on the other side of the net to lose. On one side is an inept and vacillating All India Tennis Association, and on the other are the players, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. Trapped in the middle is Leander Paes, who has been a role model not just for Indian tennis players but for sportspeople around the world. In spite of being the highest ranked doubles player in India, he has been at the receiving end of a controversy and was expected to make a compromise (“‘Might be unfair’ on Leander, concedes AITA chief Khanna”, June 22).
Bhupathi and Paes were selected by the AITA to represent India in the doubles competition at the Olympics. To be asked to play for one’s country is the greatest honour that can be conferred upon any sportsperson. It is not just an obligation, it is a commitment. No sportsperson has the right to refuse to undertake the responsibility of playing for the nation. What has become of our national pride?
The AITA is responsible for Indian tennis. Where does it stand in this controversy? Is it not answerable for all the unrest that is going on? It would be easier to comprehend the work of Eugène Ionesco, one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd, than to understand the rationale behind the AITA’s vacillation. Looking at the current crop of young players, it would be safe to say that the future of Indian tennis looks bleak. Now the AITA seems to want to ruin the work of present players as well in its bid to mollify those who throw tantrums. The role of the selectors has virtually been made redundant.
Cyrus Madan, Calcutta
Sir — It is a pity that the AITA does not seem to have the courage to handle the sordid affair involving Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in a professional manner. In the entire controversy, Bhupathi and Bopanna decided to jointly stand in opposition to Paes.
It is likely that Bhupathi has not harboured good wishes for Paes ever since the two parted company recently. With a new controversy surrounding the two players, once again, it is the true lovers of tennis that are the real losers. When the controversy dies down, all three players shall move on with their lives and careers. It must be said that it is only Paes who has conducted himself in a dignified manner, so far. He won a bronze medal for India at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. It looks as if the ongoing struggle among the players will go in favour of Bopanna and Bhupathi. If this were to happen, Paes will lose out on a great opportunity to play unless the AITA comes up with a solution that is acceptable to him.
Unlike Bhupathi and Bopanna, Paes enjoys the privilege of a direct entry into the Olympics owing to his ranking as the world’s number seven doubles player. Consequently, he is entitled to choose a suitable partner for himself and not be forced to play with a junior player. One hopes that good sense prevails on the AITA, and a competitive Indian tennis team goes to the Olympics.
Dipak Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — I disagree with the decision of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics to ask the government of West Bengal for land in Rajarhat to develop the world’s fifth high-energy synchrotron centre (“Land clock ticks on science crown”, June 9). The Karnataka government has offered 500 acres of land in Chitradurga for the project. The director of the institute, Milon Sanyal, ought to have asked for land in the smaller cities of Bengal, such as Burdwan or Kharagpur. Development projects ought to be spread out over the state. This will also make it easier to find land for these projects. Calcutta is already crowded; there should not be a big project in the city.
It should also be noted that of the four other cities which have the world’s high-energy synchrotrons, only Hamburg in Germany is well known. The other four cities are relatively unknown. Sanyal should speak to the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, or the minister of commerce and industries, Partha Chatterjee, and speed up the implementation of the project. This will help Bengal greatly. An opportunity like this should not be lost.
Susanta Kr. Gangopadhyay, Calcutta