Ijaz butt

Why power corrupts

What is it about power and authority that corrupts just about every person in a leadership position? In the last week, former California governor Arnold ‘Sch-whatever’ and IMF chief Strauss-Kahn have been caught out for their sexual misadventures. In Africa and the Middle East, power drunk tyrants oppress their own people, defying international outrage and sanctions. In just about every continent, politicians spend more time untangling themselves from legal troubles pertaining to bribery and other corruption charges, than working on whatever they got elected for.

This extends to sports and sporting bodies as well. Just take cricket, for instance. In Pakistan, a bumbling cricket administrator keeps changing captains and flouting conspiracy theories at the drop of a hat. Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa have innumerable issues with their administrators. The less said about Zimbabwe, the better. For all his business acumen and commercial talent, Lalit Modi’s ego had become so big, that he had to kicked off from the venture that he himself had made successful. In the past few weeks, a previously little-known-of administrator of a state cricket association in India filled with too much self importance, felt that he could go toe to toe with a legend of the game, coming out of the whole fracas, the smaller man. Captains and coaches are not impervious to this, either. Kevin Pietersen, Greg Chappell, Hansie Cronje are some of the people who failed to handle their positions appropriately, and whose misuse of authority led to their shameful exits.

This brings us back to the question I raised at the start of the post. Dr Ronald Riggio, a psychologist tries to explain this by stating that there are two types of power – socialized and personalized power. Power used to benefit others falls in the previous category, and the power for personal gain falls under the latter category. Politicians and rulers are expected to use socialized power, but most of them invariably fall prey to personalized power. A position of authority automatically confers the individual a sense of self importance and idea that he can get away with anything, just because he can. Try as he might, a person who becomes a leader of men, with good intentions will almost always come to a point where he has to choose between using his power for the good of others, or just for himself. Sadly, most will choose the latter.

So, there is no point in railing against our leaders or other men in powerful positions. I know many men who like to mock Tiger Woods or Bill Clinton for their sexual indiscretions, but who when put in a similar position of wealth and power, would do the same thing. What I’m trying to say is, that it is human nature. We are imperfect beings and while we expect our leaders to be better versions of ourselves, we’ll just have to accept that it will never be the case. We might get lucky with a few individuals who can overcome the intoxicating aroma of power abuse, but more often than not, we’ll have to put up with idiots like Gaddafi, Kim Kong Il and Ijaz Butt.

So, the next time you want to rail against a dictator, an inefficient sporting body or Andrew Hilditch, just remember that even if they exit, their places could be taken up by other morons who are much worse. The only thing to be done in such situations is, to be better people ourselves and try to influence outcomes which are under our control. And for those not under our control, perhaps say a silent prayer for those in charge and hope they see the follies of their ways and set things right.

On that cheerful note, have a great week-end!

PS: Just a couple of days after the post, I came across this article on Time…have a look.


My 2011 wishlist for International Cricket

I had a terrible year...how about you guys?


Its the end of a fascinating year in cricket  – a year which included among many others, a maiden World T20 title for England, a thrilling end to Murali’s career, Laxman’s numerous houdini acts, the spot-fixing saga in England, Bangladesh whitewashing New Zealand in ODIs, Modi’s crash and burn, Sachin breaking barriers in ODIs and Tests, the declining fortunes of the Aussies, and of course, the Ashes retained by England. I can only hope for another year like that in 2011:

  • Khawaja scores a breath-taking ton in a losing cause against England at Sydney, as Collingwood scores a gritty double century to prolong his career.
  • Zaheer grabs a 10 wicket haul and Sehwag scores a double century to seal a historic series victory in South Africa, despite the best efforts of Amla and  Steyn.
  • Pakistan and New Zealand take part in a thrilling ODI series, at the end of which, Ijaz Butt starts off on a rant, as to how it is all a big conspiracy to defraud Pakistan cricket, when someone reminds him that Pakistan have won.
  • The World Cup final is contested between India and England, which ends in a dramatic tie, after valiant performances by the unlikely duo of Strauss and Jadeja.
  • IPL 4 is won by Ganguly-led Kochi, after a whirlwind knock by Clarke (yes, Michael!) just pushes them over the line against Lara’s Pune (Clarke vs Lara, get it?).
  • England and India take part in a run-filled Test series featuring marathon batting knocks by Cook, Trott, Dravid and Harbhajan.
  • West Indies and Pakistan take part in a Test series, which is filled with countless mentions of how Darren Bravo’s stroke-play reminds one of Brian Lara, and how Amir’s return to international cricket is a disgrace to the beautiful game (cricket, in this instance!)
  • New Zealand skipper, chief selector, part-time cricket board chief – Dan Vettori, blasts the media, after taking umbrage to the remark that he was a poor man’s Shakib Al Hasan, at the end of another whitewash against Bangladesh even as coach Wright longs for another stint with India.
  • Zimbabwe invite Sri Lanka to take part in their domestic competition, after Sangakarra is left fuming at the lack of games for his team. Sri Lanka accept the invitation and travel to Zimbabwe, upon which the entire season is washed out due to rain, leading to the skipper’s remarks that it was the “worst first class season of my life”.
  • Things move fast in South Africa where Hashim Amla takes over the reins after De Villiers decides to take a break, to spend more time developing his music career. Paul Harris is the leading wicket taker of the year, after batsmen throw their wickets away attempting to slog him, after bearing the brunt of Steyn and Morkel.
  • India’s tour of Australia is mired in controversy, after new Aussie skipper Watson accuses India of deliberately destroying Johnson’s career by smashing him all around the park with scant respect. It completely overshadows career defining performances by Pujara, Unadkat, Ferguson and Beer.
  • Finally, the leading run scorer and wicket taker of the year are, Ian Bell and some fast bowler Pakistan unearthed at the beginning of 2011.

Have a good 2011, everybody!