ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

The game of cricket is part of the entire polity. It is the crooked Indian politicians who have debauched the economy and provided the principal inspiration for the downfall of cricketers. And if no politician of any stature has gone to prison convicted of a criminal offence, it would be somewhat lacking in natural justice to pack off a cricketer of note to serve a term of imprisonment.

There is no escape from the basic fact: the crisis in Indian cricket encapsulates the problems the Indian economy and, for that matter, the Indian polity as a whole are facing. The free market ambience has overwhelmed the sphere of cricket too. It has translated itself into a free-for-all. As is the rule with so-called perfect competition, those with talent and efficiency in performance outdo others in this melee. In no time they come up on top. Glamour attaches to these few, and glamour in turn paves the way for lush earnings via endorsement of advertisements. The rush of endorsements in turn creates even further glamour for the select group of players. It is therefore a two-way pattern: glamour is the magnet which crowds in advertisements, advertisements in their turn pile up more glamour upon the initial base. This process can continue indefinitely and the talented players soon come to accumulate fabulous wealth.

This is the dilemma of the free market. It does not remain ‘free’ for long; the inexorable logic of market operations soon ushers in a monopoly, or at least a duopoly or a polipoly. The less talented players are crushed in competition and are rendered into non-entities. Some of them still manage to scrape a living, but nothing much beyond.

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