Wanted: Flexible foreign policy
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One wonders what exceptional qualities Prakash Amritraj possesses that have enthused the higher-ups at the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to try and restore him to the Davis Cup team. It's during times like these that the government's diktat, which allows only Indian citizens to represent the country in international tournaments, unwittingly comes to the aid of Indian sport. Had Prakash been picked in the squad, it would have worsened the mess Indian tennis is in.
But does the rule as a whole make sense? The answer to that would be no. Suppose Prakash was ranked in the top 50, rather than 437 as he currently is, preventing his selection would hamper India's Davis Cup fortunes. The rule would then seem unnecessarily rigid. India would lose out on the opportunity of replicating the success achieved by the likes of the France team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup with a team full of dual-nationality players such as Patrick Vieira, Marcel Desailly and Lillian Thuram.
Were PIOs eligible to represent India, someone like Michael Chopra, the Indian-origin English footballer who represents Ipswich, could bring plenty of Premier League experience to the India squad. At a time when the country is struggling to produce one world-class player, it would help raise profile of the game significantly. Similarly, there are many Indians bred in foreign lands in sports like basketball and athletics who have achieved success and would be keen to represent the country. Such moves will not only help raise standards but also act as a motivating factor for youngsters.
But by opening the door to all PIOs, the onus will fall on the respective sports associations to ensure that local talent isn't suppressed in favour of sub-standard imports. Prakash Amritraj probably shouldn't be in India's Davis Cup squad. But this should be a question of whether he is good enough, rather than whether he is eligible.
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