It&’s not playing cricket, not even the scam-tainted version of what was once a gentleman&’s game. After match-fixing, spot-fixing etc, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir wants team-selection to be “fixed”: to pamper non-cricketing interests.
Emotional immaturity has ever been central to Omar Abdullah&’s functioning, often serving to amplify his mediocrity in administrative and political spheres. And with him now tweeting / blogging his impulsive “takes” on just about everything, he seems to dwell in an abode of sensationalism, hardly befitting someone holding so important and complex an appointment. Yet, even by his own silly standards, he has stirred dangerous negative sentiments by lamenting Parvez Rasool not making it to the playing XI in any of the ODIs in Zimbabwe. Yes, that might have boosted the first player from Kashmir to make it to the national squad, but it would have been unfair to drop someone only to play a political card.
Possibly Omar&’s tweet pleading for Rasool backfired: no captain, or tour selection group, appreciates external influences, least of all parochial political pressure. Omar&’s lack of cricketing knowledge is evident: Rasool is not the first member of a touring team not to get a bat or bowl.
Hence totally unwarranted is the lament, “did you really have to take him all the way to Zimbabwe to demoralise him. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just do it at home?” That comment, to use Omar&’s terminology, is “cheap”. Maybe the chief minister gets easily demoralised, a would-be international sportsman is required to be made of sterner stuff. The brand of “stuff” exhibited by Rasool&’s father who admitted to disappointment yet said, “We fully honour the decision of the team management. They are the best judges to decide who should play”.
It is significant that one of the netas to echo Omar&’s wail is another tweeter, Shashi Tharoor, whose previous foray into cricketing affairs cost him a key ministerial position ~ he was subsequently rehabilitated much lower in the pecking order. Rasool should take skipper Kohli&’s advice seriously, prove his worth on the India A trip to South Africa.
Kohli actually, even if inadvertently, made a point which the politicians should appreciate: in any competitive foray, selection is based on “winnability”. Back to Omar. His whining was not really surprising.
Hardly capable of providing the requisite quality of governance he repeatedly seeks to be bailed out by the Centre, pleading for one package or another, riding on the bandwagon of local passions. Craving charity as it were. Should Parvez Rasool ever turn out for the national squad his morale would go sky-high if he was confident he merited it ~ not because a “Kashmiri statement” was being made.
Chill over Tunisia
There is a chill over the Arab Spring and Tunisia ~ from where it all began ~ is today under a cloud. The tragic irony is palpable for a country that was in the forefront of the upheaval in 2011 and until recently seemed in the process of the most promising transition in the region.
The clock has been turned back with the killing of Mohamed Brahimi, the Left-wing secular opposition leader. The death has led to a wave of discontent at the conduct of the country’s Islamist-led coalition government. The latest tragedy was preceded by the killing five months ago of Chokri Belaid, who like Brahimi had led a small left-of-centre party. Both were outspoken critics of radical Islam and Tunisia’s successor dispensation.
Both incidents reaffirm the resurgence of political Islam as a form of governance… in parallel with its gradual eclipse in Egypt, not to mention the recent judicial setback in Bangladesh. Over the past two years, extremism has flourished in Tunisia where the Jasmine Revolution had blossomed in the aftermath of the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouzazi, a 26-year-old street vendor.
And in the two years since the ouster of President Zine Ben Ali, Tunisia is in crisis again. Fundamentalism assumes a still more sinister character as it overlaps with the operations of arms smugglers who trade in weapons looted from Muammar Gaddafi’s armouries in Libya.
As in Egypt there is a groundswell of opinion against Islamist trends; yet unlike in Egypt there has yet been no military intervention. On the contrary, in deference to the public mood, President Mousef Mouzubi has pledged to put in place a new Constitution, couched in the assurance that presidential elections will be held by the end of this year. The popular cry for democracy, freedom and security resonates across Tunisia, most particularly after the killing of Brahimi.
The Arab Spring, like many revolutions that start with wild optimism, has taken a harsher turn. The road from dictatorship to democracy and constitutional governance is seldom smooth. Egypt&’s transition from an unsuccessful democracy under Morsi to the rule of the gun has been swift and ruthless. Tunisia and Egypt showcase two very unfortunate case-studies.