February 03, 2010

The depths of character

Friend A sent me a link to a recent article, Why Pakistan Can Never be a Great Neighbour, by Vivek Gumaste.

I wrote back to A with my reactions, and then thought perhaps it could do with a slightly wider audience. What's below is pretty much what I wrote. And thanks, A, for the pointer.

I've had exchanges with Vivek Gumaste going back several years. He's a thoughtful guy, I'll say that for him, though I almost entirely disagree with his thought process.

In this case. First of all, I couldn't really care less what the IPL does or doesn't do with Pakistani players. It's a business and the owners of the business have every right to choose or not choose who they want to employ, end of story. I don't see it as an insult to Pakistan that its cricketers were not chosen.

But here's where Gumaste's argument falls apart.

For one, just as I can't see it as an insult to Pakistan that IPL won't have its players, I can't see it as India "revealing a depth to its character, an ability to stand up for itself, a new found confidence" (which is what Gumaste writes). It's just some hard-nosed business folks taking a decision, that's all. Why should I presume that says something about India, good or bad? At the Wagah border in October, I saw plenty of Indian trucks going over to sell Indian vegetables in Pakistani markets -- again, a business decision by hard-nosed vegetable sellers who belong to those parts. So does that business decision say something about the depth of India's character or new found confidence?

For another, consider these lines from Gumaste's article: "Is it not barbaric that we choose to continue playing cricket with a people whose compatriots routinely massacre our innocent civilians? I find it uncouth when we walk over the dead bodies of the carnage of 26/11."

Let's refer to domestic cricket, and let's change "26/11" to "1984" (picking just one example, and let's not forget that in 1984 we slaughtered 15 times more Indians than died in 26/11). We then get: "Is it not barbaric that we choose to continue playing domestic cricket with a people whose compatriots routinely massacre our innocent civilians? I find it uncouth when we walk over the dead bodies of the carnage of 1984."

If Gumaste's question is valid and it is barbaric to play, then surely the second (changed) question is also valid and that is barbaric as well. But what would Gumaste say to that second question? Applying his own logic, should Indians stop playing cricket (or hockey or anything else) with other Indians?


globalbabble said...


Yes, I agree with your analysis. Gumaste sort of destroys his own argument. First, he says that we should not mix sentiments with business like Shah Rukh Khan and the home minister.

And then, goes ahead and build a very passionate, sentimental - every Pakistani is responsible for 26/11 and must pay the price for it - kind of argument.

How silly

Chandru K said...

Domestic issues are different than international ones. Pakistan is a country that has been relentless in exporting terror to India, and they won't stop trying, which is what Vivek Gumaste is maintaining, correctly. The money Pakistani players get from cricket in India, will partly go to funding terrorist attacks against India in Kashmir and elsehwere. As for the other 'business' deals with Pakistan, D'Souza is accurate in his observations. India should have no connections at all with the terrorist scum country of Pakistan. Economic, cultural or political.

Chandru K said...

Is there any popular sentiment within India, not to 'play cricket with other Indians' because of the events of Nov 1984? If so, let's see them. The people who were most aggrieved by those events, did one of the following: voted against the Congress party in the election, campaigned for recognition of the injustice, or at the more extreme fringe, set off bombs in Delhi and Punjab. There was never any issue of boycotting sporting events, unless those events were directly linked to a specific political party( like the Congress, BJP etc). Pakistan is a terrorist state, by any definition you use, so boycotting them at all levels is sensible.