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The Betting Mafia Is Active In Indian Cricket, But Why Is No One Crying Foul?

By Atul Kumar:

simmons-no-ball-large_trans++qVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwfSVWeZ_vEN7c6bHu2jJnT8Lalit Modi, the Indian cricket czar, in an interview to Rajdeep Sardesai a few months back, categorically stated that international cricket was being run by mafia and betting syndicates controlled by Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel. Modi, the star insider, must have known what he was talking about, for the accusation was also substantiated in the report of the Mudgal Committee.

How would betting syndicates run international cricket? They would likely do so by ensuring that the matches were fixed from start to finish, in order to get maximum proceeds from the bettors fooled by fixing – something called Session betting (betting on number of runs scored in a bracket of overs). No bookie would do what they do if matches were not fixed. In fact, ex-Pakistani wicket keeper Rashid Latif even demonstrates how this is done through detailed mathematical calculation and rational analyses in an article titled ‘How cricket matches are scripted’.

A lot has been said and written about match-fixing over the years. Veteran journalist Mr. Shantanu Guha Ray’s book ‘Fixed! Cash and Corruption in Cricket’; an article in The Statesman titled, ‘Cricket in Massive Fix?‘; another book with a thrilling name, Bettors Beware (Match-fixing in cricket decoded) – the sources are plenty but an uncomfortable hush always seems to envelop anything which barely mentions betting. India seems to be talking about cricket corruption while diplomatically not talking about it at the same time.

In another related development, a SIT on black money informed the Supreme Court of India that about rupees 3 lakh crores in black were being transacted annually through cricket betting in India. Further, 1.9 lakhs crore rupees were being remitted from at least one crore Indians in India to one foreign betting website betfair.com alone as found out by our Enforcement Directorate. Putting such pieces together would mean an international fraud worth tens of lakhs of crores of rupees per year, unfettered.

Mudgal and Lodha committees appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India have meant nothing as far as stopping cricket fixing is concerned. Petitioning to the highest authorities under the Constitution of India has resulted in nothing (appeals to Supreme Court of India, Prime Minister of India, and President of India by me remain acknowledged without any action for years). Members of Parliament have also been sleeping over this immensely relevant public issue, both for its sensitivity to the masses and continuous generation of large scale black money.

Are cricketers the only ones responsible for this fraud? Even though Lalit Modi himself isn’t such a reliable source, yet it is hard to ignore a man who had been so involved in this process when he repeatedly alleges the involvement of a number of Indian politicians like Arun Jaitely, Rajiv Shukla, Anurag Thakur, Jyotirditya Scindia in the betting mafia. However, the Indian media seems to have developed the art of side-stepping crucial matters. It does bring out stray incidents of match-fixing now and then but forgets them in a hurry.

Nothing has ever been followed up to reach a logical conclusion. It is this behaviour of the Indian media, politicians, activists, crusaders, and celebrities that seems most worrying since it means that there can’t be any hope for a country where everyone prefers to turn a blind eye to the greatest proven fraud of all times impacting and affecting hundreds of millions of citizens.

A striking example of this is how the media is currently dealing with the captain of the Indian Cricket Team. M. S. Dhoni’s name has surfaced for fixing in the media time and again, and he was clearly found guilty of making a false statement under oath to Mudgal committee about Gurunath Meiyappan not being a CSK team official. Yet, he continues to be the captain, glorified with highly publicised biopics.

When we choose to keep quiet or ignore an openly massive fraud involving the who’s who of India, it feels naïve to pour into streets for candle light marches protesting against crimes committed by lesser mortals readily in the grips of the law of the country.

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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.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

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
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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