Let's have some perspective here, shall we?
On 2nd April 20011, 11 men trotted into the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, accompanied by the roars of over 30,000 people. For the next 8 hours, they played their hearts out, against an opponent who had handed them one of their most humiliating World Cup defeats. In the face of incredible pressure, they not just survived, but thrived, and finally, in an emphatic gesture by their captain, won the biggest prize in cricket and brought home the world cup after 27 long years.
For their heroic display, members of the team were showered with accolades. Cash prizes, swanky cars and luxury villas were theirs for the taking. Scant hours after the final match, each player was richer by a few crores, and money was still pouring in. Here's the list, for those interested
Now let's take a look at another story
On May 22nd 2010, 85 fire department personnel rushed to the Mangalore airport. Air India Express IC 812 had crashed while trying to land, and was lying in a deep gorge. The air was thick with smoke, flames and the screams of the injured and the dying. For the next 5 days, these firemen battled the blaze, rescuing 6 people from certain death as well as digging out 158 dead bodies. It was the worst air crash in India in a decade. Karnataka CM BS Yedyurappa, after the customary site-vist and sad-head-wagging promised a suitable reward for the men in uniform.
Well, their reward is finally here. And it's a princely sum of ...Rs. 100 each. That too, a scant 11 months after the incident. The reward has been given by the Karnataka Government...the same government that has promised 25 lakh rupees for every member of India's world-cup winning squad.
is wrong with you people???
Apparently, the reward is because of some mysterious "rules" that State Fire Department Officials are not ready to divulge. But hey, them's the rules. Apparently the rules say nothing about adding drops to the pools of money our cricketers are swimming in, a la Uncle Scrooge. But somehow, people who fight disasters and save lives are suddenly bound by these rules.
Funny thing, I don't really feel angry at the politicians for doing this. Politics, after all, is one giant popularity contest. Like yesteryear's zamindars and today's rappers throwing money at hookers, politicians shower cricketers with wealth to share some of the spotlight. Couple that with the warm fuzzy feeling fans get when their rich idols become richer, and you have the perfect PR exercise.
But I am angry at those who are not enraged by this. Angry at the blind idolatry that allows such things to happen. Angry at the humiliation of real heroes, most of whom will not see the kind of money in their entire lifetimes that the cricketers earned in a day.
I have no beef with our cricketers, and I do believe sporting heroes should be honoured. But there is something very wrong with the example being set here. Something very wrong with the message that winning the world cup gets you more money than you ever dreamed of, but saving lives gets you a slap in the face dressed up as a reward.