India and Pakistan should play the game of gentlemen frequently; that way, every match won't seem like a war.
"India and Pakistan should play cricket... It all depends on the nature of the Pakistani state," Congress politician and author Shashi Tharoor said. He wished to see the space for people-topeople contact expanded. "Why should cricket bear the burden of what diplomacy can't solve?" Tharoor asked in the session moderated by Nalin Mehta, co-director, Times LitFest, Delhi.
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"To my mind, play cricket more often... you'll find it doesn't become a war," journalist and author Rajdeep Sardesai said here on Sunday, the concluding day of the Times Litfest 2017. "War will be fought, but cricketers must play cricket," he added at the discussion on "Cricket as Indian Democracy's Alter Ego".
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Bishen Singh Bedi, the famed Indian spinner, said he had more friends in Islamabad and Lahore than here. "Why should cricket and entertainment suffer if trade and diplomacy are on?" Bedi wanted to know.
But on cricket and democracy, the panellists argued. Sardesai said "politics remains a closed shop" and that unlike politics, no one in the Indian cricket team had a mother or father who had played cricket for the country. "I wanted to play cricket very badly and that's what I did," Tharoor said lightly, but argued that "politics is still subject to popular referendum".
Sardesai was scathing about the state of Indian politics today, saying it celebrated mediocrity while cricket would not suffer it, preferring instead talent and excellence.
The discussion briefly threatened to turn into a full political debate when Sardesai said he didn't think "political parties play for Team India anymore; they play for themselves". But Bedi ended the discussion by saying that he was grateful for being given a chance to play the game because, with a third-class engineering degree, all he could have become was a politician, and that would have been unacceptable to him.