Sunday, February 27, 2005

Defying Logic

The decision of the country's Home Ministry to stop athletes representing the country is, at best, a short-sighted one bereft of all ideas and at worst, smacks of authoritarianism. Of course, this blog does not wish to engage in politics of any kind. But this decision, an outlandish one if ever there was one, affects everyone regardless of their political inclinations or affliations. So far, very few people have come out in the open and questioned the decision. So, hats off to Narain Karthikeyan for coming out and expressing his disappointment The argument from the members of the political class that initiated this, is that athletes, cricketers in particular, did not give the flag the respect it was due, that it was worn below the BCCI emblem on their batting helmets. The simple solution would have been to issue guidelines spelling out do's and dont's when it comes to using the national flag. Somehow, that solution escaped the worthies at the Home Ministry and the Member of Parliament who took up the issue in the first place. Let me just say that this doesn't surprise me. Ours is a country that, till recently, did not allow the general public to proudly fly the flag on top of their houses. It is a country where people have been told how to live their lives by a few ignoramuses. But one thought the worst was over, that winds of change had blown away the cobwebs of the license-raj. Athletes at the Olympics and other international meets draping themselves in their national flag after a victory is an inspirational sight. Like millions of other Indians, I have longed to see Indian athletes being able to bask in glory in their national colours. Apparently, one may get into trouble in doing so. Last evening, as I was going through the Australian Grand Prix brochure that a customer of ours was kind enough to let me have for the weekend, I came across the Jordan team drivers' profile. It was a heartening moment to see a helment in the familiar tricolours and with the Ashoka Chakra at the top - but the irony of it wasn't lost on me. The first Formula-1 driver ever from the country will not be allowed to use the flag. After all, it belongs to him. And me. And you. - NK PS: I will be there at the Australian Grand Prix and hopefully, Karthikeyan will do well. I may carry a flag, even. The Home Ministry has since decided that athletes can use the national colours without the Ashoka Chakra. Hmmm...

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