MATTER OF WATER
Whether or not the BCCI follows the Bombay High Court order and shifts IPL matches out of Maharashtra in May or decides to seek relief from the Supreme Court is for it to decide. Yes, a section of the public might hail the court for being sensitive to the public weal, but if it in any way alleviates the sufferings of the water-starved people of Latur and other parts of Maharashtra we will like to be enlightened.
For, whether it is the running of the water-trains or other measures undertaken post-haste by official agencies and private parties, these could still be taken without the order to abruptly move as many as 13 matches outside the state. We too yield to no one in identifying ourselves with the long-suffering people of the drought-stricken Marathwada. But no purpose will be served by penalising the IPL when the remedy lies elsewhere. In all sincerity, and without meaning any disrespect to the honourable judges, we think the court has over-reached itself.
PILs cannot be abused to arbitrarily ban IPL matches, especially when the order will not contribute a wee-bit to the resolution of the complex problem of the drought-induced water shortage. However, it would set a precedent. It is notable that the petitioners, who had moved the PIL, have already asked Their Lordships to ban the presence of cheerleaders at the IPL matches. What next? A dress code for women who are begging to come in huge numbers to cheer their favourite IPL teams? At this rate, the danger is that the once laudatory institution of PIL itself might come into disrepute, depriving people the benefit of really positive judicial interventions against an unresponsive executive.
A judge is supposed to have no constituency except the Constitution and all that flows from it.
Besides, there are a million other ways in which water is “wasted” on a regular basis. For instance, on watering the golf courses. We know a number of jurists who are the first ones to become tenured members of the local golf clubs and who enjoy teeing off whenever they can take time off from administering justice. Would they, the jurists, as a gesture to identify themselves with the people of parched Latur, now swear off golf till there is a permanent solution to the water woes of the people?
And here we mean not only the judges of the Bombay High Court but all members of the higher judiciary everywhere so that they can establish solidarity behind last Wednesday’s decision by Justices V.M. Kanade and M.S. Karnik. Again, since Their Lordships have sought to enjoin upon the BCCI-IPL to make a financial contribution towards the cause of the water-starved people of Latur, it would be in the fitness of things if the eminent jurists too came up with their own contributions for the worthy cause. After all, all of us owe it fellow citizens in their hour of extreme distress to do whatever each one of us can, both in our official and private capacities. And by the way, since Latur has been without water for long, why was it okay to stage the World Cup 20:20 matches in Mumbai but not IPL?
Meanwhile, it will be wrong to assume that it is given only to jurists to have a sensitive conscience. Collective conscience of Indians is alive to the endemic problem of water shortage and other such existentialist challenges.
But the solution does not lie in recourse to headline-grabbing edicts from on-high, especially when the problems are complex and require long-term strategies and huge financial outlays. Despite deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption, dereliction of duty, etc., if parts of Maharashtra have for long suffered from water scarcity the solution calls for a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach, not a shift of IPL matches. Besides, re-locating a match is not like moving chess pieces. It requires months of advance planning and preparations.
PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF
In a welcome initiative, a prominent media house recently commissioned a few short films on the on-going controversies.
Made by well-known Bollywood directors, these were meant to send out a message of hope and unity to a country increasingly wracked by divisive and emotional issues. Unfortunately, the end-result is disappointing.
For instead of taking an independent and unbiased look at the major issues playing out in the public space, most of the films display a rank partisan attitude.
For instance, the short film on the alleged bias of the media tilts so far out towards the other side that it ends up caricaturing itself. Instead of rooting for the middle-ground, nay, balance and restraint, it becomes a vehicle for those seeking azadi on the JNU campus. Pseudo-liberalism being a negative thought process, meant merely to oppose the rightists, it can never be objective and fair.
AN INNOCENT AT LARGE
Speaking in Mumbai’s famous Zaveri Bazaar the other day, Rahul Gandhi said the 1% excise duty on non-silver jewellery was an “assassination attempt” on the small traders. His actual words were: “This is not excise, but an assassination attempt on small traders and workers.” Maybe it is time the Gandhi scion stopped speaking without a script, since he invariably ends up making a fool of himself whenever he does without one in hand.
Question: Why did the jewellers suddenly call off the strike, even though the government did not budge an inch on imposing excise duty on jewellery? Answer: They feared that Baba Ram Dev might enter the jewellery trade, opening a nationwide chain of Patanjali jewellery stores, and finish off all of them.