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‘Leave IPL Alone!’: On The Positives of IPL

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By Shobhit Agarwal:

What is the first word that comes to mind at the mention of Indian Premiere League?

Entertainment, controversy, cheer-girls, match-fixing, Bollywood. The chances are that ‘Cricket’ will be way down the pecking order in the list. But that shouldn’t worry us because it was designed to be this way.

In the past five years, a lot of things have happened to and with the IPL. Being controversy’s own child has been one of its prime achievements. Moreover, it has generated a loyal set of critics, who have mastered the ability of picking apart anything and everything that happens in IPL. From the dressing of the cheer-girls to the after-game parties, from allowing entry to the owners in the playing area to allotting franchises on flimsy grounds, nothing has escaped the prying eyes of these critics. Upon ignoring the petty ones and focussing on just the primary concerns, we find two issues at the core of most criticism –

First – the IPL is anything but cricket.
Second — the league has brought shame after shame to the nation and should be scrapped.

Let us address the second concern first. Nothing excites us Indians more than seeing a desi name in any list of repute. So here is a piece of news that not many critics are aware of –the IPL is among the top-10 richest sporting leagues in the world, based on market value, estimated to be worth something to the tune of 2.9 billion dollars (it was close to 4 billion dollars at the end of second season). And it has some pretty esteemed company in Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), English Premiere League (EPL) and the likes. What adds to its credibility is that it has achieved so in the short span of 5 years. This is anything but to be shameful about.

As for cricket taking a backseat is concerned, the IPL was never meant to be just about cricket.  Let us trace the roots of IPL. In 2007, after India’s disastrous campaign at the World Cup, where they were knocked out in the first round itself, Subhash Chandra, the chairman of ZEE network, announced the advent of a league — the Indian Cricket League (ICL), in order to help improve the quality of cricket being played in the country. Crying foul and seeing it as a challenge to its authority, the BCCI flexed all its power — both financial and administrative, and under the chairmanship of one Lalit K. Modi (who was little known at that time) unleashed this giant, conveniently naming it the IPL. During its ideation itself, cricket was never on the minds of its founding fathers.

IPL has always promised to be wholesome entertainment package and it has delivered big time on that front. It has managed to reciprocate, to a certain extent, what Ramayana and Mahabharata achieved when they were first aired on national television — brought families together in front of the television. Thanks to the dispersion of senior cricketers throughout the various franchises, you have support for multiple franchises emerging out of the same house, further adding to the excitement. From the barbers to autowallahs, from CEOs to businessman, none have escaped the influence of the IPL.

Which leads to the point — Why target the IPL by sensationalizing its shortcomings? There is no doubt the system has its share of defects, but why do we need to go on a character assassination spree of it? For every wrong there are 10 right things happening. The problem is that the temptation of having their 30 seconds of fame, lures many cynics into facing the camera, and blabbering their views at the top of their voices, at a time when close to 50,000 people on the ground, and several crores in front of their television screens are busy enjoying the spectacle unfold.

Leave the IPL alone and let it be in peace. If lack of issues is the driving force behind people attacking the IPL, then all one needs to do is take a walk across their neighbourhood — there are more important and urgent matters that needs people’s attention than the IPL.

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  1. aditya thakur

    There are many more important topics to discuss about, that’s well said. But as an ardent fan of the game of cricket (as opposed to being a fan of cricketers) I have to say that the fact that it was always supposed to be more than cricket is a little saddening. And it’s not like cricket is totally missing, We get to see some brilliant cricket and we get to see some of our favorite players from different countries play together and against each other (like the AB DeVilliers bashing of Dale Styen). However, it is a little demeaning when cricket is pushed to the back of the line. For example watching the Extra Innings before this year’s tournament started, it was clear that cricket was way down on the talking points list.

    1. Shobhit Agarwal

      hello aditya…
      I am glad that a few ardent supporters of the game (and not the cricketers) still exist. As for IPL, it never promised wholesome cricket, it always promised wholesome entertainment. The fact that we have had some interesting finishes and some brilliant cricket on display is only an add on, its like the ‘extra’ cheese on your burger. So while it will retain the taste of a burger, it will give you a few moments of ‘cheese’ pleasure as well.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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