Raj legacy: Indian cricket still suffering from colonial hangover?

Why is the Board of Control for Cricket in India still using the logo derived in 1928 from the emblem of the Order of the Star of India?

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Tarique Anwar

India may have gained Independence from British Raj in 1947 but not the same can be said about Indian cricket. Even after 89 years of its formation as a national governing body for cricket in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is still using the logo derived in 1928 from the emblem of the Order of the Star of India, the British Raj emblem during the colonial period.

It is similar to the representation on the mantle of British Raj. After the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the British Crown created a new order of knighthood to honour loyal Indian princes and chiefs, as well as British officers and administrators who served in India, to consolidate its sovereignty over India. No such honours were given after 1948.

The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1861. The Order includes members of three classes: Knight Grand Commander (GCSI), Knight Commander (KCSI) and Companion (CSI).

On 25 June 1861, the following proclamation was issued by the Queen:

“The Queen, being desirous of affording to the Princes, Chiefs and People of the Indian Empire, a public and signal testimony of Her regard, by the Institution of an Order of knighthood, whereby Her resolution to take upon Herself the Government of the Territories in India may be commemorated, and by which Her Majesty may be enabled to reward conspicuous merit and loyalty, has been graciously pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to institute, erect, constitute, and create, an Order of Knighthood, to be known by, and have for ever hereafter, the name, style, and designation, of "The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India.”

The Star of India – the emblem of the order – also appeared on the flag of the Viceroy of India and other flags used to represent British India.

In queries filed under Right to Information (RTI), activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal has asked the Department of Sports as to why the Government of India does not change it to an Indian symbol with either tricolor or the four lions or Ashoka’s Dharma Chakra or any other logo decided by it. He is yet to get the response.

With the surge in popularity of cricket in India, the BCCI has become rather notorious for its monopoly and has suffered from corruption allegations. The Supreme Court on January 30, 2017, nominated a four-member panel Committee of Administrators [Vinod Rai, Ramachandra Guha (who recently resigned), Vikaram Limaye and Diana Edulji] to look after the administration of the BCCI in order to implement Lodha Committee reforms.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has also quizzed the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and other ministries concerned on bringing the BCCI under RTI Act and to look into the huge disparity in prize money between cricket and other sports. Asking why the cricket body has not yet been brought under the ambit of the RTI, the CIC on June 16 sought answers from the PMO and the sports and law ministries, giving each a month’s time to reply.

Here are some of the important queries put forward by Central Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu on the RTI plea filed by Agrawal:

1) Why is the Indian Cricket team even now carrying the logo of BCCI instead of sporting the Union of India symbol?

2) Why is the BCCI still using the logo designed by British Raj in 1928 which resembles the symbol of the Order of the Star of India given by British Raj to its loyal princes?

3) Why doesn’t the Government of India change it into a truly Indian Symbol with either the Tricolour or four lions on Ashoka’s Dharma Chakra or any other logo decided by the Government of India?

4) Why hasn’t the Government of India, PMO or the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports not taken any measure to implement the CIC’s decision of the BCCI being a public authority under RTI Act, as per its answer to Lok Sabha?

5) Why are not they bringing a uniform policy for rewarding winning international sports persons to prevent unhealthy competition for publicity among governments?

6) Why are sports frauds like match fixing and betting not prohibited and action not being taken effectively?

7) What is the status of action on the Bill to prevent sports frauds?

Since the BCCI obtained an ex-party stay-order dated July 24, 2013, from the Madras High Court on hearing at the CIC, which still continues, it is now for the Centre to declare BCCI as a public-authority under RTI Act as per reply by the then Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports to question-number 2097 raised by four parliamentarians on March 27, 2012 in the Lok Sabha. It becomes even more important in view of the observations of Supreme Court in the matter leading to various reforms in administration of BCCI.

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