This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Melanie Dhar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Is The IPL Still Being Held In The Middle Of A Raging Pandemic?

More from Melanie Dhar

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Trigger warning: Mentions of crematoriums, death

An empty stadium lights up as the jarring flood lights flicker on, commencing ‘India ka apna mantra’, aka the fourteenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Hearts thud in anticipation across the country, as ardent fans sit glued to their television sets, their fingers crossed for their teams and players of choice. Meanwhile, a few miles from the same stadium, open fields bear witness to the wails of hundreds gathered to light the funeral pyres of their lost loved ones, as the crematoriums of the country struggle to keep up with the raging death toll.

Banquet Halls Converted Into Covid Care Centre In Delhi
Photo for representational purposes only. Photo: Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

With the total number of active COVID cases in the country steadily darting towards 3.5 million, millions of cricket fans remain blissfully oblivious. The glitz and glamour of the IPL can undoubtedly have this effect, more so since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking at a revenue of more than 4000 crores from sponsorships alone, in less than a month.

On top of that, the BCCI has promised to create a ‘biosecure bubble’ for everyone involved in IPL 2021. So far, a whopping 10 crores have been spent in procuring 20,000 RT-PCR tests (used for detecting COVID-positive cases). Players are getting tested every two days in order to maintain this bio-bubble. Everyone seems to agree that the show must go on.

Nonetheless, there needs to be a certain point in the middle of this catastrophic pandemic when we step back and ask ourselves: should the show still go on? 

Since the IPL started in April, there has been an officially estimated number of more than 30,000 deaths all over the country. The healthcare infrastructure in the country is crumbling, as thousands gasp for breath due to the severe shortage of medicines, hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen, and even crematoriums.

What is even more distressing is the fact that these cricketers- who stand on god-like pedestals as fans worship them- maintain their silence about the grim reality that the country is facing. Although we keep hearing the same generic message urging the public to wash their hands and maintain social distancing, is this truly enough in lieu of the current situation? 

While international cricketers like Pat Cummins and Brett Lee have donated generously towards COVID relief work in India, and some players like Shoaib Akhtar have also spoken up about the gross negligence of the government, the inaction of Indian players is shocking, to say the least. 

Subsequently, most of these donations are going to Narendra Modi’s PM Cares fund, against which several petitions under the Right To Information (RTI) have been filed, owing to concerns regarding its legitimacy. Some activists have gone as far as to call it “a blatant scam”.

However, nurturing this culture of silence (and silencing) is nothing we haven’t seen before. The star cricketers’ silence speaks volumes. It reminds one of their prolonged silence during the countrywide protests against the CAA-NRC-NPR, and more recently, the newly enacted Farm Bill. Their absolute denial in acknowledging the government’s inadequacy and negligence in the face of the pandemic should not be mistaken as ‘neutrality’; it is their privilege that allows them to remain complicit in the face of injustice.

It is important to remember that much-beloved players like Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, and Virat Kohli, along with several other prominent celebrities, were quick to jump to the government’s defence when foreign influencers like Greta Thunberg and Rihanna condemned the Farm Bill of 2020. In the same country, activists are constantly gagged and imprisoned, as in the case of climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested for circulating an online toolkit relating to Thunberg. 

The star cricketers’ silence reminds one of their prolonged silence during the countrywide protests against the newly enacted Farm Bill. Representational image.

Some might argue that the IPL operates as an entity separate from the Indian government, but is that really the case?

The BCCI is headed by its secretary, Jay Shah, who in turn, happens to be the son of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Home Minister Amit Shah, one of the most powerful men in the country.

As a result, the BCCI has been able to obtain numerous privileges from the government- including ‘separate check-in counters and corridors’ at the airports, as reported in The Guardian.

The decked-up stadiums that are being used to host these matches could easily be converted into healthcare facilities and COVID care centres since the BCCI have more than enough resources at their disposal. 

Others might insist that the IPL provides a beacon of hope amidst the raging waves of death that are haunting the country and its people. Surely the IPL serves as a distraction from the disaster, but do we really need a mirage of normalcy at this point? Haven’t we seen enough diversions in the past seven years? The IPL with all its grandeur seems to ridicule the precariousness of the times we are in. Their unconcerned, and detached faces smiling on the television screen against the backdrop of the collapsing healthcare infrastructure and innumerable deaths seems to be tactless.

Photo: @IPL/Twitter

It is high time that we ask for accountability: not just from the government, but also from the privileged celebrities who choose to remain mum about the dire circumstances. It is important to keep in mind that only 1% of the population hoards more than 40% of all the wealth in the country. These are the people in power, who have the means and the privilege to create change and improve the condition.

It has been over a year since we have been collectively living under the shadows of ineffectual and poorly implemented lockdowns, utter mismanagement of resources, and very recently the farce of a democratic system that seeks to kill its own voter-base with irresponsible political rallies dripping with suicidal machismo.

This is not the time we numb ourselves with KFC and Pepsi before the 40-inch television sets gracing our sheltered living rooms like the ads would have us believe, nor is it the time we pretend that the world of cricket and entertainment exists in a vacuum above the clouds. Nothing but swift accountability and responsibility, and a swifter sense of shame will prevent things from getting worse if they are not already.

You must be to comment.

More from Melanie Dhar

Similar Posts

By Anushka Khatua

By Mir Tajamul Islam

By India Development Review (IDR)

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below