Sunday, March 09, 2008

The new auction game

Would you care to know about what you are worth as a lawyer? Our lawyers offer their services ranging from over 1 million rupees as day fee to a few eggs for personal consumption for bail. The lucky part is that the rates are settled in the confines of a lawyer’s chamber or in the shady region of a tree. It neither attracts media attention nor celebrity participation of attractive men and women attired in see through dresses and flamboyant goggles. If the Indian Premier League’s strategy of promoting the cause of cricket through cash-rich industrial houses should catch universal attention to adaptation in other fields as well, we may see many of our professionals going up in auctions.
The players themselves have sounded buoyant. Some have said that this signals the beginning of new era of popularizing the game. Some have said that the players have never had it better for improving their game for being offered better bids in future. The players have known their relative worth , they say. Did you think that McGrath was one of the world’s best bowlers with silken glide of a run up and smooth delivery? Have you loved to see Chanderpaul’s type of measured aggression? What do you think of another West Indian Ramnaresh Sarwan, who looks so much like your neighbor next door but cracks the ball hard? Poor lot, they were among the unsold ones! Symmonds will realize that we Indians could not be racial after all. There are guys who place a greater price for him than they have done for his own ‘white’ captain Ricky Ponting.
This event, for odious reasons, reminds one of the historically shameful practice that went in the shape of public auction of slaves. Go through the famous encyclopedias that chronicle this trade. Slavery, though abundantly practiced in Africa itself and widespread in the ancient Mediterranean world, had nearly died out in medieval Europe. It was revived by the Portuguese in Prince Henry's time, beginning with the enslavement of Berbers in 1442. New World black slavery began in 1502, when Gov. Nicolás de Ovando of Hispaniola imported a few evidently Spanish-born blacks from Spain. The Portuguese at first practiced Indian slavery in Brazil and continued to employ it partially until 1755. As the English, French, Dutch, and, to a lesser extent, the Danes colonized the smaller West Indian islands, these became plantation settlements, largely cultivated by blacks. When the slave trade was at its height during the 18th century, the export of slaves was averaging 45,000 a year. About half these
slaves were unfortunates in their own societies: criminals, the mentally or physically handicapped, debtors or those who had been sold for debt or pledged as security for a debt, those who had offended men of power or influence, or simply those who in some way had become outcasts from the family and tribal systems. Selling such people was usually simply an alternative to keeping them in some kind of servitude in domestic society or, in more extreme situations, condemning them to execution or to serve as human sacrifices in the festivals of ancestral or land cults. The remainders of the slaves exported were strangers to the societies that sold them, sometimes unwary travelers or border villagers who were kidnapped, but for the most part prisoners of war. The blacks from the western African region were the most traded lot in America. All the civil wars and equality doctrines have not effaced the memory of the subjugation of the blacks in USA or the deep scars of anguish of aborigines of Australia. Lawyers had roles to play in all these trades. They drew up indentures the same way as they now do for sale notes of merchandise of common use or sale deeds of immovable properties. See the sample deeds of sale in some popular websites and experience the revulsion.
Slavery has been abolished but trafficking in women and children have been the substituted practice. The hapless victims go to enrich a hateful community of pimps and pedophiles that all the laws have not been able to eradicate. We have now inaugurated an exercise which the law does not even prophibit. Shri.V.R.Krishana Iyer has excoriated through an article in an English daily the pernicious portent of this new initiative that sullies the delightful sport that cricket is. Bal Thackarey and Sharad Yadav have queried Pawar on how he is allowing cricket to slide down to such abysmal depths. If this practice gains public approbation, chances are, bidding for professionals may begin everywhere. Would you mind if someone is prepared to bid for you for $1.5 millions or $1.35 miilons as Dhoni and Symmonds have been bid for? Remember these players are offered these prodigious sums just for a few hours or days, when they have to pledge themselves for playful work. It is not the whole lifetime retainer. If this is done to us, would we not rather abandon practice than succumbing to a rating brought under public gaze by moneyed people?

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