Sunday, April 01, 2007

Vir Sanghvi's ill-informed article

I read an article in HT, written by Vir Sanghvi, via cricinfo blog - which made my blood boil. its ill-informed, ill-intentioned and runs down my countrymen without rhyme nor reason...

you can read the article at

i was sufficiently moved to sit down and write a reply which is published in full below

"Rarely have I read an article which is so flawed as your article about cricket !!!!

All your points are incorrect and rubbish the very people who actually comprise your audience….

Let me take the easy idiocies you’re making first
a)the French example you gave about being magnanimous – the president inviting the team over despite their having lost in the finals. First, they had reached the finals so clearly had done well. The Indians were also treated very well – same presidential invites / awards when they came back having being creamed in the final in ’03. Second, the same French public had headlines like ‘Scandal’ / ‘Pardon’ when the French team (the defending champions) had crashed out in the group stage in the ’02 world cup in japan / korea. They were not at all so magnanimous then and there were wholesale calls for most of the team to be axed / fingers pointed at the system / the coach was sacked etc. Not too dissimilar to what is happening here, perhaps ?
b) We weren’t no-hopers in the cup : contrary to what you’re saying India was actually second-favourites for most of the last year and at the start of the tournament was joint second favourite with south Africa. The odds on India to be eliminated at group stage were 1:23 on bet365. So, the Indian audience wasn’t dreaming – the team did underperform spectacularly. Even to quote you – the base expectation was being a semi-finalist (even the chairman of selectors, Vengsarkar had said the same) – so to be eliminated at group stage is a huge come-down !
c) Indian gullibility : I hate pseudo-intellectuals like you who run down your own countrymen. Tarot cards / Faith healers / séances / God-men exist in the west. The very birth of religion is attributed to lack of knowledge – as our knowledge grows religion occupies a lesser role in life. For example- before there used to be a sun-god / a wind god, a god of the sea / the moon – almost anything that we could not understand. Now most such ‘elemental’ Gods have disappeared globally. As India’s literacy develops, Gods / religions will reduce… if you compare the metros and the rural villages, the point is proven as it is if you compare the west say 100 years ago when illiteracy was rampant there as well. So, to label Indians as gullible because of poverty / illiteracy betrays a lack of human nature / process of evolution
d) Western Gullibility : I have lived in UK / Holland for the last 7 years – come soccer world cup time, the same hysteria develops there. In Britain last few tournaments (the Euro ’04 and WC ’06 & ’02) they ran out of flags – every car / home was bedecked with 6-8, people were buying union jack underwear etc. And the odds on either country to lift the cup were significantly lower – they have a disastrous record in cups (have never gone beyond the semi’s apart fm ’66) but each time if you look at the papers / the ads its almost like they just have to turn up and win / the whole tournament is almost a formality. You’re welcome to browse through the archives – you wont find the hysteria / the ‘gullibility’ as you call it – any less than what we see with Indian cricket.
e) I don’t think there is anything wrong in blaming the players / coach for the debacle and not the BCCI : the team was pretty much what most people would’ve selected – most people (including ex-cricketers) till today feel the team was right – at most you can carp on 1 or 2 slots, not more. So why blame the BCCI ? at the end, net net, the players / coach did not perform. Simple. Yes – there are some over-reactions – however – if you look at the English press, you will see that it is not as extreme as you’re making it out to be. Right now their coach is under extreme pressure despite having won his last match against Andorra and drawn the previous two. When there was a referee (a swiss gentleman, I think his name was Merk) who was perceived by the English to have given a couple of decisions against them in Euro’04, his phone number was published in the newspapers and he received several calls full of abuse/ death threats etc and chose to retire immediately. In spain, for their club soccer matches – especially those involving Barcelona and Real Madrid – people have thrown a pigs head against people perceived to have wronged the club / burnt their uniforms etc. Again, this is not too far removed from indians

i'm not for one second condoning the destruction of dhoni's house / targetting the players or their kin physically but honestly, i'm not against the odd rotten egg or tomato being thrown at them when they arrive at their next PR event. And i'm definitely against an article like yours which blames the passionate indian public for showing their passion when the team fails !
You’re being unfair / unkind to your fellow countrymen and are sitting in an ivory tower…get real !!!!
You can read some of my other thoughts about cricket / movies at



Anonymous said...


Interesting ..your counter point . I read Vir Sanghvi's article and didnt find it as repulsive as you did . Like his article your response also takes selected facts to support your points . You of course write very well but I think the anger /passion has on this occasion slighltly biased your usually excellent writing ( you never liked him ..he gets the babes too easily :-))))

The lack of civility with which we conduct our public affairs whether it is general day to day life, politics or sports is clear . Yes there are examples from other countries which can be used to show that we are not alone in this, but we are talking in overall/general terms. It is this lack of dignity for individuals and lack of respect for private space which we are seeing after the cup debacle .

The co-relation you suggest between religious belief /super-stition and literacy is also quite tenuous. Are Mallus less passionate and emotional than other Indians ?? Gullibility or (rather perceived lack of rationality) in a society is not just a function of literacy . To me it is driven by 2 things :

1. To what extent an individual or society allows his hopes/beliefs/ faith/cultural values to over-ride critical reasoning/simple rationality . This can vary from situation to situation.
2. To what extent society allows people to hold and act on their individual views/opinions without persecution or some negative impact ( no matter how minor).

A good example of behavior driven by the 2 variables above is educated people voting for a candidate of their caste even if they know he is a crook eg Sukhram winning his election despite crores being found in his home.

The latter is quite good in societies which have strong rule of law and are largely civil societies . It is extremely weak in India . Try going against the norm as a senior student in an Engineering college by opposing ragging !!

I enjoy reading your blog ....keep writing more on non-filmi stuff...the one on tennis coaching was nice!! Here is an offbeat HIndi movie for you to watch and review.....MERE APNE...its from the 70s and stars meena kumari, shatru and Vinod ..and Gulzar is involved !!! There are many such hidden "gems" .

Anonymous said...

I kinda believe what Vir writes in his columns. About the food, travel and all.
Now after reading gives me that feeling of believing what others can make me believe; as in, yours are based on facts (true). His is more based on feeling and being able to be liked by the masses, cause everybody is after thier blood (cric team).
Just one thing......did he actually get more babes?? hhehheheh

KG said...

Luv u for this review boss......Way to go man!!!

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