Time for Debate, and Controversies

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The month of January saw media space dominated by the anticipation, expectation and analysis of the US President Obama’s visit to India. It is true that it was for the first time that an American President was the guest of honor on the Republic Day celebrations, the noteworthy thing was the saturation coverage that primetime media provided to the visit, especially electronic media. From technicalities of the Air Force One to the thickness of the doors of the “beast,” and the layers of Obama’s security, media went over the top to get ahead in the TRP game.

The more substantive part of the debate has also been rather acrimonious. Even as the agreement was reached on operationalizing the deal, the debate raged on who should get credit for the deal. As ruling party went gaga over the fact that it was Modi who personally took the lead to seal the deal, Congress went ballistic that former Prime Minister Mamohan Singh was not being given due credit. Some Congress leaders demanded credit be given to even Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. On the other hand, CPM, which was dead against India’s nuclear deal with the US and had pulled out of UPA-I on the issue, took out a protest rally against the deal.

Another very recent development has been the replacement of Foreign Secretary. Just two days before his retirement, Indian Ambassador to the US, S. Jaishankar has been appointed Foreign Secretary, replacing Sujata Singh who was about to retire in eight months. S. Jaishankar is rated very highly in external affairs circle and has held crucial China and the US postings where his performance had been exemplary. However, as has become customary of late, Sujata Singh’s removal has generated controversy. Out take on the matter is that appointment of the Foreign Secretary is the prerogative of the Prime Minister and his decision should not be challenged just for scoring political brownie points.

In a couple of weeks, the Cricket World Cup is about to start in Australia and New Zealand. As India braces to defend the coveted cup, we take a look at the current state of sports in the country. As the recent Supreme Court verdict has pointed out, the rut goes deeper than previously anticipated.  However, the problems in Indian sports are many and are not isolated to Cricket. The money power, involvement of Bollywood, doping by sportspersons and inadequate infrastructure are all facets of contemporary sports landscape of the country and are threatening the soul of sports, i.e. respect for fans’ emotions and dedication to the national pride. It is high time sports administrators take note of the situation and do something to preserve the spirit of sports in the country.

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