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Same old Tories? No, probably worse this time… 30 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory....
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A couple of articles in recent British news publications point out something that should be obvious, yet is ignored by many Muslims (and non-Muslims) in their frenetic Labour-hating and Blair-bating: the Tories, especially the current lot (but equally those before) would be far worse, both in their anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric, and also in waging war on Muslims lands. And as the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems to their friends) have about as much chance of forming a government as the Monster Raving Loony Party, Labour remains the best hope for British Muslims; least worst of a bad lot.

A few days ago, Yusuf Smith wrote at length on the 'new Tories' and their pitiful efforts at wooing British Muslim voters; Yusuf referred to Boris Johnson, the staunchly anti-Islamic journalist, and I agree – Boris may look (and act) like a cuddly teddy bear who cannot string together a coherent thought, but he is easily one of the most astute politicians in Britain today; he will undoubtedly go far, and its a shame that he will carry his anti-Islamic baggage with him.

However, Boris Johnson is by no means the only anti-Islam member of flaky Dave Cameron's shadow cabinet; in fact, the crème de la crème of the British neo-cons (Hague, Fox, Osborne and Gove) are also the people running Cameron's Tory party. This was the point made, in some detail, by Matthew Parris in The Times for the past two Saturdays (here and here). He points out that many of the key Tories, including Cameron himself, are more 'gung-ho' and pro-war than even Tony Blair, and certainly more so than the previous Tory shadow cabinets.

Its not as if we have not been warned by Cameron of his thought-process; in what Parris calls a "hog-whimperingly neoconservative speech about jihadism", made at the Foreign Policy Centre in London nine months ago, Cameron compared Islam to the Nazi threat in the 1930s:  

“The parallels with the rise of Nazi-ism go further . . . If only, some argue, we withdrew from Iraq, or Israel made massive concessions, then we would assuage jihadist anger. That argument . . . is as limited as the belief in the Thirties that, by allowing Germany to remilitarise the Rhineland or take over the Sudetenland, we would satisfy Nazi ambitions.

 . . . We’re all in this together . . . standing with those brave democrats in Iraq who are trying to rebuild their nation . . . Should representative government . . . take root in Iraq, [jihadists] will not only have been defeated in one key battle, they will also find that an alternative path has been established in the Middle East which gives its people the hope, prosperity and freedom they deserve.”

And where Cameron has led, the others have followed, only some of the others are more avowedly Atlanticist than flaky Dave himself. Wee George Osborne, the baby-faced Shadow Chanceller and by many accounts the second most-influential person in the Conservative party, wrote in the Spectator during 2004, arguing that:

"England is going back to sleep. And little wonder when we’re told every day by sages in our national media that the War on Terror is misconceived, that the terrorist threat is exaggerated, that what we’ve done in the last three years has only made matters worse, and that the Iraq war was a ghastly mistake that is best forgotten . . . There are few voices to be heard putting the other view: that the terrorists pose a fundamental threat to our way of life, that fight them we must, that Iraq was part of that fight and that we are winning.”

In a profile of William Hague for The Spectator, Fraser Nelson makes the same point about the Shadow Foreign Secretary (the issue has been archived so is available to subscribers only; Google has an old cached copy here, at least for the time being):

Hague is a hawk. Unlike Michael Howard, he says that he would still have voted for the Iraq war, knowing what he knows now. ‘Can we say it was wrong to remove Saddam Hussein? No, I don’t think we can.’ And he has no emollient words for Iran. ‘I disagreed with Jack Straw saying that military action in Iran was “inconceivable”,’ he says. ‘I’m not advocating it, but he was going too far and unnecessarily weakening our position.’ 

All in all, a Tory revival doesn't bode too well – in the words of Parris:

. . . we could be just a few years from a Cabinet in which the Prime Minister [Cameron], the Foreign and Defence Secretaries [Hague and Fox] and the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Osborne], are to the right of Margaret Thatcher in their view of Britain’s place in the world.

Worse than Thatcher? She who ardently supported Apartheid South Africa and branded Nelson Mandela a terrorist (and still does, for all we know)? The Thatcher who supported and sympathised with the murderous Pinochet regime, and seemed to act as if 'vague ideals' such as justice, fairness and human rights were an irrelevance?

Surely British Muslims should be mobilising to ensure that Cameron's Tories do not win – at a local level, tactical voting should be encouraged, in which anti-war or pro-justice and pro-Palestine candidates are supported, but this support should only be when the candidate has a realistic chance of winning or defeating the pro-war or Zionist incumbent. Whether its Cheadle or Bethnal Green & Bow, a concerted and nationwide Muslim effort to defeat Labour or vote for Galloway/Lib Dems can have some entirely unintended consequences for the Muslims… not unlike CAIR or other US Muslim organisations who actively campaigned for Bush, believing Gore to be pro-Israel! A vote for Bush in 2000 put the neo-cons in power across the pond; a vote against Labour in 2009 would ensure that history repeats itself in the UK too.

Despite his messianic zeal when it comes to waging war, Blair still seems unsure of his true moorings; hence he has not even bothered to collect the Congressional gold medal, which may be seen as a snub by those on Capitol Hill who awarded it. Cameron, on the other hand, knows exactly what he believes as far as foreign policy is concerned and has no shame in nailing his neo-con colours to the mast. However, not many Muslims seem to realise this, except perhaps Osama Saeed who blogged about this in December 2005 (link). I do not think Muslims should return to being passive Labour supporters; the community has matured through that phase; however, we should be aware that in 2009, Labour will not be led by Blair, and it would not be helpful to our interests to replace Labour with a neo-con administration, just when such wackiness is going out of fashion in DC!

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The world’s most savage war 30 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Helping the oppressor and the oppressed....
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A few weeks ago, I read Johann Hari's deeply troubling account of his trip to the Congo – it is moving, shocking, and to be honest, does not make for pleasant reading. However, read it we must – and then ponder upon man's oppression and his sheer callous disregard for other men. A conflict where 4 million people have died since 1998, many in truly horrific manner, and yet we know so litle of it. Some excerpts follow…

This is the story of the deadliest war since Adolf Hitler’s armies marched across Europe. It is a war that has not ended. But is also the story of a trail of blood that leads directly to you: to your remote control, to your mobile phone, to your laptop and to your diamond necklace.

I think Hari does overplay "our" culpability for this oppression; most people, if given a choice between a cheap mobile phone that is cheap because someone was killed for it, and a slightly more expensive model that is not thus tainted, would go for the latter. Or am I too optimistic about human nature? The following would suggest that I am. Warning – graphic, and very shocking…

He [Dr Mukwege] describes the cases that made him go public in a fast get-it-over-with voice. One morning he was brought a raped three year-old by her broken father. “Everything had been shot away. There was nothing I could do for her,” he says. “The father started smashing his own head against the wall, screaming that he had not been able to protect his baby daughter. We heard later he committed suicide.” That same day, he saw a seventy-two year old who had been raped in front of her sons-in-law, the relations considered sacred in Congolese culture. She said, “Don’t cure me. Don’t feed me. I can never go back and look my sons-in-law in the face.”

And there are many other similar stories in the article. I find it shocking that a truly savage, barbaric and devastating war, in fact, series of wars, have destroyed a country that is one-fourth the size of the US, and we have barely heard about it. Blacks killing other blacks is just not a story, is it? Now, if that had been Arabs killing blacks, or even the myth of Arabs killing blacks, we would heard about it morning, noon and night.

This still does not address my key question though – is this issue not of greater significance than any trivial budget deficit, silly Kyoto target or pointless foreign policy junket? Yet, its relegated to the fringes of popular conscienceness, if that. What about us Muslims – just because Muslims are not being killed (for once), we can ignore the oppression? Or should we be as concerned and worried about the Congolese as we (rightly) are about the Iraqis, the Palestinians and the Kashmiris being killed in their respective countries.

What possesses human beings to behave like animals? Can we glibly blame Imperialism and Western multinationals, as Hari seems to have done? He believes that the horrific rapes of thousands of Congolese women is 'merely part of a larger rape – the rape of Congo' by its erstwhile Belgian colonists in the past, and by Western multinationals now. He even meets the token Belgian ex-colonist; her views do appear somewhat blinkered, and even nauseating:

As we sit over lunch, Tina Van Malderen says, skimming the menu, “I don’t drink water – only wine.” Her hair is greying but her smile is warm. “I first came to Bukavu as a little girl in 1951 when my father came to work for the Belgian administration,” she explains. “It was Paradise. There were only European then. No Africans. Black people lived in the surrounding areas. It wasn’t like South Africa, they weren’t forced. They didn’t want to live with us, they wanted to be with their own. They came into the town to work. They didn’t use our shops, they had their own market.” She speaks of the days of Belgian empire with a soft-focus sepia longing. “I have four sisters, and we would swim in the lake all day. It was like a non-stop holiday.”

I am sure it was. Am less sure that the blacks shared that view… The reality was somewhat different:

The Belgians unified Congo in the first great holocaust of the twentieth century, a programme of slavery and tyranny that killed 13 million people. King Leopold II – bragging about his humanitarian goals, of course – seized Congo and turned it into a slave-colony geared to extracting rubber, the coltan and cassiterite of its day. The ‘natives’ who failed to gather enough rubber would have their hands chopped off, with the Belgian administrators receiving and carefully counting hundreds of baskets of hands a day.

Things did not improve after independence – according to Hari:

the CIA decided he [Patrice Lumumba, the first and only elected leader of Congo] was a “mad dog” who had to be put down. Before long, one of their agents was driving around Kinshasa with the elected leader’s tortured corpse in the boot looking for a place to dump him, and the CIA’s man – Mobutu Sese Seko – was in power and in the money.

And the same cycle was repeated when Mobutu no longer met his masters' needs and was replaced by Kabila in the late 1990s. Zaire (as it was then, Congo as it is now) is a country endowed with vast potential wealth – so this is what its all about:

If you want to glimpse what all this death has been for, you drive four hours out of the town of Goma, on pocked and broken roller-coaster roads that melt into mud with the rain, until you reach a place called Kalehe. Scarring the lush green hills, there are what seem to be large red scabs that glisten in the sun. The technical term for these open wounds in the earth is ‘artisinal mines’, but this dry terminology conjures up images of technical digs with machines and lights and helmets. In reality, they are immense holes in the ground, in which men, women and children – lots of children – pick desperately with makeshift hammers or their bare hands at the red earth, hoping to find some coltan or cassiterite to set on the long conveyor belt to your house or mine. Coltan is a metal that conducts heat unusually brilliantly. It is contained in your mobile, your lap-top, your son’s Playstation – and 80 percent of the world’s supplies sit beneath the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The mad fighting to control, extract and market this mineral wealth has not covered anyone in glory – from Congo's neighbours, such as Rwanda and Uganda (whose armies and militias are behind most of the violence), to Western mining and banking companies, including Anglo American, Barclay's Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and De Beers – the same list of 'usual suspects' that helped prop up the apartheid regime in SA. Three weeks after Hari in The Independent (London), the US based newsmagazine "Time" has led with this war as its cover story, which is where it belongs. Read it all here.

I will end though with Hari. What is the most 'piercing image of pain' Hari saw in his travels?

… it is the women carrying more than their own body-weight in wood or coal or sand, all day, every day. By every Congolese roadside, there are women with ropes tearing into their foreheads as they bind a massive load onto their backs. With so few horses, so few cars and so few roads, starving women are used here as pack-horses, transporting anything that needs to be moved on their backs for fifty pence a day. They are given the quaint title of ‘porters’.

Francine Chacopawa is 30 years old but she looks much older, her faced lined and cratered in a complex topography of grief and pain. Her spine is curved, her skin is rough and broken, her hands are calloused. When she laboriously, painfully puts down the wood she is carrying, she has a red canyon in her forehead where the rope was, rimmed with sores that weep from the rubbing. “This is the rope that keeps my household alive,” she says. It is the war that has reduced her to this state. “Since the war started in Congo, you can’t farm in peace, you can’t raise animals, and the children are starving, so I prefer to die in this work… My husband cannot get a job since the fighting began, so this is what I have to do. I leave at five o’clock in the morning and get back at seven o’clock at night. I am worried my children are running away to look for food, because we only get to eat once a day and they are so hungry. When I get home, my husband gets angry and asks why I have been away so long. We have suffered so much. The children we bring into the world are forced to be porters as well. We are the most unhappy people in the world.”

She tells me the pack she is carrying weighs two hundred pounds, and I write this off as understandable hyperbole. Then my translator and the UN driver load her pack onto my back (with great difficulty). I immediately fall to my knees. I stagger up and manage to stumble a few feet before falling over again. I am almost crying in pain; my back aches for weeks. This is Francine’s life. She does not even stop on Sundays. “How can I? We must eat,” she says. Portering has made her miscarry twice, and Francine says she has seen women die by the side of the road, buckled under their loads. I ask her when she will stop portering. She shrugs, and says nothing. Her eyes say, ‘When I die.’

There is a lot more in Hari's article, and I recommend all of us to read it whenever we have a spare 20 minutes – there are discussions with the government, review of the armies and militias, comments on rampant Shirk in the form of witchcraft and Christianity, but really, does anything need to be said after Francine's account above?

Super Pak? 30 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game'), Land of the pure...and the not so pure.
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Trust Niamat (aka AE) to come up with something rather heart-warming even whilst dissecting Muralitharan's action and the ongoing Eng v SL series:

Finally, I want to bring attention to Umpiring. In current times, with hundreds of cameras, amazing slow high-definition that shows the most incredible details, and then all this 'hawk-eye' technology that tells us exactly where the ball would hit the stumps in LBW decisions, the pressure on the Umpires to continually get it right is incredible.

Step up Super Pak.

Aleem Dar has taken the Umpiring world by storm – it's almost as if he has cameras showing him replays in his eyes! The amount of decisions that he has got right has been phenomenal, not to say that the other umpires are not being equally proficient, but it's great to know that Dar Saab is now the greatest Umpire in the game, and for a country that doesn't have a clue about justice, impartiality, equality and respect for the law, the world's greatest judge in cricket is our very own Aleem Dar.

I found the last sentence wonderfully poignant.

  • A Laptop – $ XX
  • An internet connection and card – $ YY
  • Reading Abu Eesa after a gap of 4 weeks – priceless.

I have been travelling (just work) for the past few weeks, and been snowed under with various other things – hence the paucity of activity here, which I am sure was noticed by both of my 2.4 readers. :-) Back now, so both of you can expect some serious updates over the next few days, Insha Allah.

BNP gains in North-East London… or ‘Barking goes barking’ 5 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory....
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The UK had its local elections yesterday, and the early results that have come in so far indicate that Labour has taken a hammering in London and the South-East (I am often told there is a whole country to the north of this region, but somehow, I don't believe it – people living north of Watford? Surely you jest!). The BBC, the Torygraph and even the Guardian websites are leading with tales of huge Labour losses, and the 24 hour news channels have a similar take on this. However I don't see any of that as remarkable in the least – and as often, it takes Tim Hames of The Times to cut through the fog of obfuscation and offer some sensible analysis; he concludes thus:

…the trends that seemed to materialise in a complex series of ballots yesterday were not new nor do they herald a new political era.

Yes, Labour got thrashed in these elections, but that is primarily in London, where the last local (ie Borough) elections were in 2002 – that was when the Tories' fortunes had reached a nadir, and they had the brilliant generalship of IDS to contend with. In many other parts of the country, especially the Northern cities, Labour fared slightly worse today than it in 2004, and Cameron needs to do much better there if he wants to end up in #10 by 2009.

The main story for Muslims of course is the rise of the far-right; I wouldn't want to do a Margaret Hodge and give these attention-craving Neanderthals any more limelight (limelight? on my blog, with my 2.5 readers? I must be having a laugh!). The facts are these: the BNP are expected to have doubled their number of councillors once all the results are in. However, as they started off with around 20 councillors in the whole country (out of ..say..22,000!), this is not as strong a result as it may seem. More concerning is their remarkable showing in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham – an area of East and North-East London I am reasonably familiar with (in that I would drive very quickly through it on the A13 towards the City/Docklands – so quickly in fact, that I was once awarded three points on my driving licence for my troubles).

I don't profess any local insight – yes I did live for many years in the neighbouring Borough of Redbridge, but I always thought of Barking as a bit of a dump and Dagenham – well that's where the white trash lives darling – but these results do not surprise me. I am sure the real reasons for BNP's success are to do with various complex sociological and economic factors; yes, the number of non-White faces would have made a difference, but the bigger issue would be "poverty" (ie relative poverty*), as evidenced by the gradual scaling-down of operations and the closures at Ford's Dagenham operations.

So, Barking becomes the first council in the country where BNP is the second largest party – 13 seats, more than the Tories, the Lib Dems and other also-rans. Are there really that many fascists in Barking? I doubt it – though Dagenham is probably a different story altogether. In council estates across the country, there are countless 'white trash' neighbourhoods where a life on benefits and disability allowances represents the sum-total of anyone's ambition – its human nature to be lazy and blame one's own pathetic lives on others who are weaker and even lower down the food chain, ie the immigrants, the refugees, et al.

The bigger issue, which I will address another day, is the welfare culture of many modern-day Western societies – that culture of dependency and hopelessness is behind most of the problems around the inner cities of these countries; it is not poverty per se, or at least not poverty as we third-worlders define it; rather its a poverty of ambition, a poverty of imagination, which takes root when the All-Powerful and Paternalistic State performs every function for you, from cradle to grave.

So while the rest of the country has been indulging in a BNP-focused media frenzy these past few weeks, there have been a few of us who have refused to be drawn in – among them David Aaronovitch, whose comments in a column two weeks ago seem remarkably prescient for someone who can be somewhat obtuse at times:

I spent Sunday evening looking at the stats for Barking and Dagenham. It is less deprived than my own borough, Camden. It experiences less crime. Its housing stock is no worse. But its educational attainment is lower, its VAT registrations (a sign of small business activity) are much lower and its teen pregnancy rate is much, much higher.

If you had Barking on the couch, you’d make sure that you listened to it and took its complaints seriously; people go bonkers if they feel that no one cares. But you’d also tell it the truth, which is that there is no protection from change itself — no stopping the world, unless you are prepared to pay the heavy price of getting off.

Rachel Sylvester in the Torygraph made similar points, on the same day as Aaronovitch:

The truth is that support for the BNP is not really a protest vote against a racially mixed society: it is a cry of rage about the quality of life in some of the poorest areas in the country. There is not much cheerleading for the far Right in the streets of Chelsea. The BNP is exploiting a growing sense of frustration with genuine problems: the lack of affordable housing, the increase in low-level crime, the failure of inner-city schools, the loss of a sense of identity among white working-class men following the collapse of traditional industries. These failures are not really anything to do with race – although, of course, the more people come to live in an area, the more stretched local resources will be – but the BNP has diverted a general sense of grievance into a specific feeling of unfairness based on a perception that there is "us and them". It is true, for example, that asylum seekers in a way "jump the queue" for council houses because they are destitute when they arrive in an area, whereas those on a waiting list for a bigger home are not. The solution is not to try to recreate a homogeneous white population but to find more affordable housing, and speed up the way in which homes are allocated to local people. The Government, and the Opposition parties, should not try to ramp up the rhetoric on race, they need to deal with the often appalling way in which too many people have to live their lives.

So there we are – the abiding message of the day being something like "Don't panic"!

* relative poverty because there is very little 'absolute poverty' in the UK, despite what the likes of Polly Toynbee may say.

We are what we eat . . . 2 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Islam and contemporary society.
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George Monbiot, writing in today's Guardian, seems to be confirming what we Muslims always knew – that what we eat determines not just our physical appearance and girth, but also our personality, emotions and thought processes; in the words of one of the authorities on the subject, quoted by Monbiot:

". . . having a bad diet is now a better predictor of future violence than past violent behaviour … Likewise, a diagnosis of psychopathy, generally perceived as being a better predictor than a criminal past, is still miles behind what you can predict just from looking at what a person eats" 

Key excerpts from the article:

Why should a link between diet and behaviour be surprising? Quite aside from the physiological effects of eating too much sugar (apparent to anyone who has attended a children's party), the brain, whose function depends on precise biochemical processes, can't work properly with insufficient raw materials. The most important of these appear to be unsaturated fatty acids (especially the omega 3 types), zinc, magnesium, iron, folate and the B vitamins, which happen to be those in which the prisoners in the 1997 study were most deficient.

A report published at the end of last year by the pressure group Sustain explained what appear to be clear links between deteriorating diets and the growth of depression, behavioural problems, Alzheimer's and other forms of mental illness. Sixty per cent of the dry weight of the brain is fat, which is "unique in the body for being predominantly composed of highly unsaturated fatty acids". Zinc and magnesium affect both its metabolism of lipids and its production of neurotransmitters – the chemicals which permit the nerve cells to communicate with each other.

The more junk you eat, the less room you have for foods which contain the chemicals the brain needs. 

Indian domination of cricket (off-field that is – we all know they can’t dominate on it!) 1 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game'), Saaray jahan se acha...?! eh?.
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The recent award of the 2011 Cricket World Cup to a joint bid from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has received some flak in the usual quarters. Australia and New Zealand had a very good bid already on the table; did an excellent job when they last staged the tournament (1992 was the best-ever World Cup – that is the general consensus the world over); and should have staged 2011 if there was any 'rotation' policy. In any case, theirs was the only bid on the table and they met all the requirements – the ICC had to bend its own rules to even accommodate the Asian bid.

However, the big bucks offered by the sub-continent proved too alluring for the ICC members and money carried the day. What does this mean for cricket administration? Are we going to see an era of Indian-dominance? Controlling and managing cricket was once the exclusive remit of the MCC in Lord's and the Imperial Cricket Conference. Have we, after decades of the 'gora sahab' lording over us natives, finally replaced one tyranny with another? Many think so, including some sensible cricket followers on this excellent cricket forum.

I beg to differ. We are not entering an era of Indian domination over cricket; all we are seeing is that in cricket, as in most other things in our 'wonderful' capitalist and money-grubbing society, money talks. The main concern, of one country riding rough-shod over the wishes of everyone else, a la the old MCC/TCCB/ICC combine, is somewhat misplaced; the current scenario is one where 'money is king', and marketing diktat rules cricket. So whatever their colour, creed or nationality, it's the sponsors and the money men who call the shots. India just happens to have more money and more sponsors than any other country, but certainly not a majority of either; hence, its decisions have to be mutually beneficial for other countries and boards too, otherwise they will not accept them. The ECB, CA, PCB, etc only play ball with India because it is in their own financial interest to do so – the moment there is a better deal on the table, all these other boards are at complete liberty to go seek it, unlike the old system where everyone had no choice, theoretical or practical, of going against the ingrained institutional racism of the MCC.

Yes, if India/BCCI had unbridled power, where they forced everyone against their will to play by their rules, it would be a concern. That is not the case, however. The President of the ICC is not Indian, he is a Pakistani; the all-powerful ICC Chief Executive has been an Aussie for a very long time indeed; there are ten members on the Elite panels of umpires – not one is an Indian; there is no Indian Match Referee; and from chucking to sponsorships, there are a whole host of issues where the Indians would feel they have been getting a very raw deal indeed. I don't really see an all-encompassing Indian influence here, malign or otherwise. All this is far cry from 30/40 years ago, when the umpires, the administrators, the decision makers, the money men, the rule makers and the arbitrators were all from a very narrow strata of English society – those guys did not even represent England, let alone represent or speak for the whole world. Hence, the current situation is not comparable. It is a democracy, where like all other capitalist democracies, self-interest rules.

The World Cup issue also proves that India is powerless to act on its own; it needed the support of other South Asian boards even to bid for this World Cup; and if you know anything about South Asian politics, you will know that supporting India does not come naturally to Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis! In fact, they would only do so when offered some very substantial incentives indeed, such as the case here. PCB supported India because this was a good, nay a very good, deal for them. India cannot make decisions to the detriment of other countries, it needs their support; the key difference is that unlike in the dim and distant past, we have a democracy now.  

I am also not sure what this concern with the "late submission" of the Asian bid is – a red herring, if ever there was one. The World Cup is in 2011, ie over six years away! That's 2,200 days (almost) – what difference does late submission by 10 or 15 or 23 days make? It is completely irrelevant. There was only one bid on the table – it may have been excellent, it may have been atrocious – surely a fair appraisal could only be made once that bid was compared to another. As long as the decision was based on the merits of the bid, I see no issue.

And as far as we know, the decision was made on the merits. It would be a concern if the poorer bid won, or if the second bid missed out many key requirements; but if the only gripe against it is that some paperwork was delayed, then I am afraid that is just bureaucratic piffle.

So is there no cause for concern? Not quite. The influence of money or TV-men or corporate marketing is certainly not wholly benign; far from it. However, this influence is global and all-pervasive, and the BCCI is almost incidental to it. I do agree though that there are certain elements in the BCCI who would like to exercise such influence over global cricket, and such elements must be resisted and ridiculed; anyone got any good Lalit Modi/BCCI jokes? :-)