Don’t our cricketers have social responsibility?

KPN photo

B.S. NAGARAJ writes from New Delhi: Cricket’s ultra-pyjama version, Champions League T20 tournament, got off to a glitzy start on Thursday. Chaka Khan, Shaggy and Jameila, and not to forget our own A.R. Rahman, crooned and danced.

“I Feel for You,” they sang, their voices reverberating across the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium through 5,000 MW speakers.

The report in Deccan Herald was suitably gushing:

“The fusion of art forms from East and West was symbolic of the message the 16-day tournament conveys, a global cricketing village and the desire to uphold the spirit of the game.”

We talk of the world being a global village, but what about the worst-ever flood in a century in our own backyard? How have our cricketers responded to this monstrous calamity in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh? What about the “feel” for your people?

One hasn’t come across announcements of any big donation, either from the stars or from the cash-rich cricket associations so far. This is what Lalit Modi, who deserves a good deal of the credit for vulgarising the game, had to say when asked whether there would be a donation for flood relief from the tournament earnings:

“This is a calamity that has hit our nation and we will seriously examine it … this is something that is on the cards for discussion in the next few days.”

Mr Modi, do you need a discussion to write out a cheque for a few crores out of the thousands that the Champions League and Indian Premier League which you head rake in?

The other day, when chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa went round the by-lanes of Chickpet and Balepet in Bangalore, the response was spontaneous. The Karnataka garment association presented a cheque for Rs 4.5 lakh, the electrical merchants association Rs 10 lakh, and the Bangalore switchgear manufacturers association Rs 1.71 lakh.

A coconut vendor is said to have dropped Rs 150 into the donation box, while an old woman took a wad of notes from her seragu as her contribution. And here you have Lalit Modi saying he would have a “discussion” with his Australian and South African counterparts over the next few days on the issue!

And what about the stars?

Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Robin Uthappa are the three biggies from Karnataka playing the tournament. We haven’t heard from them either. If they had only spared a few minutes before the match began to go round the stands with a donation box, a good deal of money could have mobilised.

Or they could have put up their autographs for sale, just as they put themselves up for auction in the IPL bidding rounds.

Nobody grudges the cricketers their millions by way of match fees, endorsements, and players’ auctions. But there is something called CSR or cricketers’ social responsibility too.

Photograph: The opening ceremony of the Championship League Twenty20 at Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Thursday (Karnataka Photo News)