|Wednesday, 19 January 2005|
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The LTTE and statesmanship
The notoriously elusive LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has reportedly re-emerged. If the picture, purportedly of the Tiger leader which was run on the Tamilnet, is to be taken at face value - this seems to be the case.
While this seeming appearance by Prabhakaran should end the rumours which were rife about his demise in the tsunami disaster, it does nothing to dispel the reservations the country has been entertaining about his ineffectuality in the present situation.
Apparently, the LTTE leader has a lot of explaining to do. LTTE political wing chief S.P. Tamilselvan was quoted saying that although Prabhakaran had toured the devastated areas of the North, he was not seeking cheap publicity for it because he was a "statesman" and not merely a leader.
This assessment by the Tiger chief's loyal lieutenant flies in the face of reality. For, if Prabhakaran is a "statesman", as claimed by Tamilselvan, he would be putting his best foot forward and helping substantially in rebuilding the North-East. The evidence thus far is that Prabhakaran is shunning such well-meant Government initiatives like the plague.
By such inaction, the LTTE leader is proving the allegation that conceit and arrogance are getting the better of him. Apparently, he would prefer to bask in vainglorious image-building rather than work selflessly for the people of the North-East.
This is most disheartening because people living under the LTTE diktat are being deprived of the opportunity of staging a revival in terms of personal well-being and collective material upliftment.
While the world is coming readily to our rescue and pouring its largesse on us in a refreshing example of selflessness and humanity, the LTTE is displaying a niggardly spirit. The more than ample assistance extended by the world to the Lankan Government is clinching proof of the confidence vested in Sri Lanka but the LTTE is intent on playing the role of the wet blanket.
It is plain to see that the LTTE intends exercising its suzerainty over the Tamil people, completely disregarding the miseries of the latter. We would only be glad if the Tigers would prove us wrong and join hands with the Government in helping to rebuild the North-East.
Very soon at least 15 new townships world be coming up in the coastal regions. Does the LTTE intend depriving the Tamil people of such material advancement? If not, it should accept the hand of cooperation extended by the Government and work out the modalities of helping the Tamil masses instead of conducting itself in childish fashion.
We wonder whether the LTTE realises that the aid coming in would be dispersed under international supervision. This would not only ensure fairness to all in the distribution and use of assistance but contribute towards transparent aid disbursement. A cooperative effort in the use of assistance is the need of the hour. By being a party to this effort the LTTE could prove that it could disregard narrow interests.
Cricket's global appeal
Cricket used to be a game played by only a few countries. The only cricket most people in other countries knew was a type of insect. But now this picture is changing fast. Cricket is conquering the world, including some of the most unlikely spots.
According to the latest reports, Cricket has found a new base in the unlikely form of baseball-mad Cuba. The Tribuna de la Habana says the sport was growing in popularity with over 500 players in Havana and others taking it up in the provinces.
The paper said that young Cubans used to playing baseball in the streets had little difficulty in switching to cricket. Cricket's popularity was such that a national cricket association had already been set up.
In a way, this is not an altogether unexpected turn of events. Cricket reigns supreme in many of the Caribbean islands where it was introduced by the English in the 19th century. They play Tests under the collective banner of the West Indies, whose teams over the years have included some of the finest exponents of the game. The sport of gentlemen has just spread to another Caribbean island.
The development of cricket in Cuba is said to be worrying many countries in the region. The biggest Caribbean island would represent a real danger to them if cricket were to dislodge baseball as the top sport there. With a considerable talent pool to choose from, Cuba will not have any problems fielding a good side.
The next World Cup scheduled to take place in the Caribbean in 2007 will be another opportunity to popularise the game in the region, including Cuba. Saturation television coverage would hopefully lure more Cubans to take up the willow.
The Americas used to be a cricket-less region. Things have changed, as both Canada and USA have played in top international tournaments. Canada also hosts international cricket matches and the US plans to build an international cricket stadium.
They may have lost to the established teams, but one cannot run before learning to walk. Many South American countries have also joined the International Cricket Council.
This bodes well for the development of cricket in the region.
Internationally too, cricket is receiving wide press and television coverage. The recent fund raising match for tsunami victims was televised live to 122 countries - an estimated audience of one billion. The match has raised cricket's profile immensely as a sport with a human face, a sport that rallied to support tsunami victims in their hour of need. With two more such matches on the way, cricket can count on an even wider support base.
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