Rishabh Pant

As I write this post, it’s been 2-3 days since I have become familiar with the name Rishabh Pant. I still have not seen the person so don’t have a face to the name. And I have no details on his play or talent.

I could sense all the cricket hysteria build up through this last week. My first sense was at the barber last Sunday. The TV was blaring with two commentators in Hindi engaging Ajay Jadeja and Ajit Adarkar on and mostly off. Their energy and enthusiasm levels were envious even as there was much insight and some cringy stuff. I could be doing a commentary on that commentary alone. The best piece of insight that I had was that the new crop of players in the last decade have trained themselves to play on the SENA grounds and not home grounds and are hence at home internationally. I am not sure if that is entirely true.

And then through the week the hysteria showed up on whatsapp groups. I came to know a test was on with Australia, heard the word Gabba, realised it was a place and then came to know of a Rishabh Pant two days ago.

My first introduction to this person was through this article. I could see the love and support.

This time around past few days I have been working hard in my own adoption of Prem Chavan in whom I see great potential to be able to bring about a small but significant change in the Indian farming ‘game’.

Prem, standing in the midst of his family crop of Tur Dal. He lost his job close to Mumbai in the lockdown and I have been working on setting him up as a MSME in his home village and be atma nirbhar.
29th November 2020

With millions of batsmen like him in the forefront we can be emerging as winners in the game of the 5 trillion dollar economy. The 5 trillion dollar game is a bogus chase I feel but for argument sake right now.

I am trying to rope in friends to support this initiative to support Prem – to develop a ‘multi-year’ contract to hone and nurture this talent. Asking for friendly loans of 1000/5000/10000 rupees to help overcome a critical obstacle we are facing. An idli-pidli small sum of Rs. 3-5 lakhs would see him sail through, no requirement for the kind of gush reserved for cricketeers. I have put in Rs. Two lakhs of my own and I am not much better off than Prem. First hand I am getting an understanding of just how difficult it must be for thousands like Prem in the agricultural sector. I could right a whole book from that short first visit to Marathwada. And from there I stand I see the situation so easy to resolve. Just plain simple support and belief in people who matter. If not like the one you reserve for cricket then at least a tenth of it.

There are no eyeballs to be harvested here. Companies support cricket because they make money off the fans. Those in business deal with people as consumers, nothing more nothing less. As long as anything can help them dip into the largest number of pockets anything goes. Any expense is fine, any story is fine.

For crickteers there are multi-year contracts and cricket academys and hefty salaries and fees. For farmers there are slogans – jai jawan, jai kisan.

We do not see any such support for marquee players in the game of environment and sustainability. At the turn of the century I was a 25 year old who had made a strong debut into environmental activism with success. Over the coming decade I played a pioneering role in conservation of mangroves along the coast of Mumbai besides numerous other urban issues. Single handedly I nurtured a small institutional mechanism to engage in the conservation of this valuable ecosystem.

I would be hurt with the contrast in support for Indian cricket and realise how there was a widespread and deep ecosystem to support cricket across the length and the breadth of the country which identifies promising players and gives them all the necessary support. To me this is like a drug supply network, there is cultivation, harvest and then peddling.

Now in middle age I like to give support to those in their 20s and 30s where I can. Try create an ecosystem which I never experienced and would have liked to see.

Environment activists are few (there were few then and I would argue few now beyond the noise and tamasha that the environment movement is now) and as a nation we know where the priorities are.

The kind of human resource you nurture is the kind of outcome you get. Indians in bulk (like sacks of potatoes) have zero interest in issues like clean air and water or development issues like health and support to farmers or education. The upper middle class enjoys clean air and water by regularly making way to other shores whose people provide many of the things which they and their own people would not.

I would argue that Indians are not even sporty or understand sport. Cricket is a mind numbing drug to do away with pain for the many and guilt for few. The same city which is the hub of all this wheeling dealing and support for cricket also sees the poorest per capita open space ratio. Fifty percent of the population lives in cramped houses and suffer from non-availability of any space to even play forget engage in sport.

Never a cricket fan and more so an Indian cricket fan, I have had a very uncomfortable relationship with Indian cricket – Indians and their love and affection for the game. Maybe not the game per se but in Indian cricket I see much that is wrong with Indians. I am not even sure that the team is as great as it is made out to be and it might just be a marketing ploy by business interests who know how much of Indian identity is stuck with that game and how shallow India’s sense of itself is and the need to keep it propped with cricket.

I go through a usual set of commentary through my mind when I see the ever effusive Indians gush over ‘their’ cricket.

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