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Didi Does ‘Dada-giri’ And Makes Ganguly The CAB Chief. Here’s Why That’s A Huge Problem

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By Annesha Ghosh:

When a group of protesters under the banner of the Association for Protection of Domestic Rights (APDR), assembled outside Eden Garden stadium shouting slogans against Mamata Banerjee’s ‘intervention’ in the working of the state’s most reputed sporting body, their remonstrations were resonant of an unanimous sentiment, triggered among thousands of cricket lovers in the city, in the wake of a first-of-its-kind change of guard.

Image source: Google+
Image source: Google+

Two years ago, when the then Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken brought in the National Sports Code, the BCCI was quick to accuse the Sports ministry of trying to ‘assume control’ of sports federations. In no time, Maken was shunted out by a host of politicians controlling various federations, including the BCCI.

However, following the sudden demise of Jagmohan Dalmiya on September 20, when the West Bengal government intervened hastily to appoint Sourav Ganguly as the next president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), no BCCI official came forward to slam the move, which showed up as a violation of BCCI as well as the state body’s autonomy.

The constitution of CAB, as a senior official pointed out to Gulf News on September 22, gave room for 60 days for the working committee to meet and choose the president. Sensing that there wouldn’t be any possible consensus candidate proposed by the association, the Trinamool Congress-led government jumped into the fray to secure a headway into ‘selecting’ a president.

There can be absolutely no doubt over Ganguly’s contribution to the Indian outfit in his playing days that proved to be a real paradigm shift in the history of cricket in this country. Neither can there be any reservations about his shrewd understanding of the game and its changing dynamics, as evinced in the clinical analysis he offers as an expert commentator. But, he is a cricket administrator now.

Was it not improper on the part of a player of his repute, to turn to the state’s most powerful person in order to occupy the top administrator’s chair in an autonomous organization, just like that? As the then joint secretary of the CAB, was it not incumbent upon him to let the election process take its natural democratic course?

It’s been only fourteen months since Ganguly has donned the role of a cricket administrator. As a joint secretary serving his first term, Ganguly has jumped the queue to assume the President’s chair, bypassing many veteran officials who have been part of CAB’s administrative set-up for years.

Although no CAB official was willing to say anything on record, the general feeling within the body was that the autonomy of the board should not be meddled with. Earlier, incumbent CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey, who was seen as a possible presidential candidate, had told in an interview that “any political pressure will be a bad precedent for an association which has always managed to stay away from the clutches of political bigwigs.”

The chief minister, on her part, was categorical in reiteration that she had played no role in Ganguly’s installation as the CAB boss. “Sourav has been an Indian cricket team captain, now let him lead Bengal cricket. Make no mistake that I am not making a decision for CAB, it is my way of supporting cricket, which is not my cup of tea.” Banerjee told reporters on September 24.

We are going through a big crisis after his (Jagmohan Dalmiya’s) death. Somebody has to head CAB. So, it is important that somebody close to him (should run the show). My only request to all of you is that you must be together, remain united and take Jagguda’s legacy forward,” Banerjee said.

Despite her efforts to dispel any doubts that she had created pressure on the CAB in this regard, the very build-up to the announcement, compounded by the whispers in the State Secretariat Nabanna’s vicinity, were indication enough that Mamata Banerjee was putting her weight behind Ganguly. It was thus, unmistakably apparent that the government interfered in what should have been the prerogative of the CAB alone.

What took everybody by even greater surprise was how Abhishek Dalmiya, the 33–year-old son of the former president was pitch-forked into the power corridors of CAB. Despite having no prior experience in cricket administration, he was inducted as the joint secretary of the board. In June 2013, Dalmiya junior had forayed into sports administration following his nomination to represent Rajasthan in the Indian Football Association (IFA) governing body. That he would be installed in a high-profile executive role of a cricket administrator, which is usually accorded to those who have spent considerable amount of time in districts or clubs, insinuates a possible degree of rule-bending that might have been carried out at the chief minister’s behest.

At a time, when the onus across the cricketing sphere in India is on both cricket administrators and players, former and incumbent, to restore the credibility of the game, Sourav Ganguly’s anointment as the president of CAB in the unmistakable shadow of Mamata Banerjee somewhat sets an alarming precedent. While the Prince of Calcutta is expected to showcase his aggressive style of play even in this new role of his, it may not come as a surprise in the foreseeable future, if Ganguly finds himself needing to compromise with the ethics of his office, once too often for his liking, in order to appease the impulses of the Mamata Banerjee government.

Even as every cricket lover in Kolkata has hopes on Dada to provide a much-needed impetus to Bengal cricket, there can be no two ways about the fact that the former India captain has unwittingly played into the hands of the state officials.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

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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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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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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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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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