With thousands of people in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of India suffering from drought, one can understand the need to make it look like the government is doing something. By not lending its support to the Indian Premier League cricket, the Devendra Fadnavis government has sent out a message that it means business.
The public is likely to find this move indicative of a proactive government because the equation is emotional. See, we care for our people, we stop the cricket, we may lose massive revenue but we care.
Which is politically smart and yet, as unpopular as it might be, no effort is made to link the shortage of potable water in the state to the cricket or explain exactly how the dispatch of matches would help those in dire need of water.
The BCCI, not always the nice guys, have given their pledge that they will not use potable water to drench the pitch. Ergo, no wastage there. If they do, arrest them and lock them up. So, where exactly is the link and where else is water used? A more pragmatic government might have taxed the tickets with a water tax and used it to kickstart initiatives like buy water and engage transportation and have it transported to the afflicted areas.
That way, every fan has a role: You want to watch cricket, pay the water tax. To surrender revenue and simply corner a sporting event is an equation that will certainly get some applause but is literally throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
One of the arguments that invariably arise is that it doesn't look nice to be indulging in fun when people are suffering. For us, in India, appearances play a very important role. So, while Mumbai might still party and water pipes might still burst and weddings might still go on, but by dumping the IPL, the PR imaging wins the day. To argue against the singular act of shutting down IPL fixtures in Maharashtra would be tantamount to the little boy placing a little finger in a leaking dyke.
People who have access to water are still going to waste it. Five star showers will take twenty minutes, taps will run as we brush our teeth, water will dribble from a thousand leaks.
Why not exploit the IPL to raise funds for the stricken areas. Would that not make more sense? It is a popular occasion and it mints money. Use that money for the cause.
Maybe someone like me is comparatively dense but I don’t see any gain besides losing money for the exchequer in cutting out the fixtures and an increase in water usage if the ground is not being watered by drinking water.
Can someone explain, beyond the range of political grandstanding, exactly how banning the matches rather than harnessing the resource is a positive step in the war against drought it would be worth hearing? With total humility I would be ready to be educated.
In the interim, it is also valid to question the same government for not having foreseen such a situation. Not the cricket but the oncoming drought. As the river depths fell and the flow trickled, where was everyone?
What plans had been made for reserves, where was the blueprint for preventing, or at least, ameliorating the situation before it become a crisis?
Occasionally, one gets the feeling that using the cricket excuse is simply deflecting the attention away from the fact that bowler bowled a yorker when the state was not ready.