Champions Trophy 2017

Call it ‘Champions ka World Cup’ all you like, but the Champions Trophy is a meaningless tournament

Don’t dilute the World Cup.

Really, what is the point of cricket’s Champions Trophy?

It is a question which you are unlikely to hear presently. Not when the top eight cricketing nations have converged in the United Kingdom, just a few days away from the 2017 edition. Not when all players have turned up at pressers, expressing how excited they are to be playing the tournament.

But, shock and horror, it wasn’t too long ago when it was the Board of Control for Cricket in India (yes, the same ones who mulled a boycott of this edition) publicly shared similar sentiments.

“We want the tournament to be taken off the calendar in future,” the BCCI had said in 2006, unhappy at having to host the tournament that year. “The tournament is a financial burden on the country which hosts it. The ICC should organise just one main event, the World Cup, in an already overcrowded calendar.”

Unsurprisingly, the BCCI’s main bone of contention then was that they were forced to host and play in an ICC tournament when they could make much more money through bilateral series. Eleven years later, much water may have flown under the bridge, but that did not stop the BCCI from attempting to use the Champions Trophy again as a bargaining chip. Food for thought: if this was a World Cup, would the BCCI still have talked about a pullout?

World Cup or Champions Trophy?

But coming back to the original question that was raised in 2006. Amidst the glowing previews and the warm-ups, here is an important question: what is the point of this Champions Trophy?

Is the tournament supposed to crown the world champions, the undisputed rockstars of the One-Day International format? No, not really. That honour goes to the much-maligned World Cup, last held in 2015. So then, why have all the top eight nations come together to play in a tournament called the “Champions” Trophy no less?

Funnily enough, this year’s edition wasn’t even supposed to be held. The 2013 tournament was supposed to be the last one, with the Champions Trophy being replaced by a World Test Championship in 2017. But pressure from broadcasters won in the end and here we are again, back to play out a “mini World Cup” two years on from the actual one. It’s likely to continue as well – India is slated to host the 2021 edition.

Where’s the context?

For all the criticism it faces about overlong scheduled and flawed formats, the World Cup, as it deserves to be, is an iconic fixture in the cricket calendar. There is history about the event and a deep regard for feats achieved in the tournament. Think some of the biggest names in recent history: Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Arjuna Ranatunga, MS Dhoni…and there’s an ever-lasting memory associated with them.

And it’s not just the big names. The World Cup is often criticised for being diluted due to the large number of non-Test playing nations, but sometimes they are the ones who provide the most heart-warming moments. Sri Lanka’s win over India in 1979. Kenya dismissing West Indies for 93 in 1996. Kenya reaching the semis in 2003. Bangladesh beating India in 2007. The joyous Ireland story.

In contrast, what do you remember from the Champions Trophy? Do you remember who won it in 2006? Or that it was held in 2009? Australia won both times, by the way.

It’s a sentiment which Ravi Shastri, a man hardly known for being diplomatic, shares. “Which event has so many world champions? What do you need Champions Trophy for? What are you trying to prove? Who remembers (who won them in the past)?” he asked, recently.

There’s the fanciful notion that the Champions Trophy is more competitive than the World Cup because it has the top-eight ranked teams. That is true, but the tournament takes it to another extreme, making it a lottery. Win four games and you win the tournament. Lose a game, or heaven forbid, have a match washed out, and you go home, left high and dry.

Don’t dilute the World Cup

The tournament was originally conceived in 1998 by the late Jagmohan Dalmiya to generate funds for associate cricket nations. The first two editions were held in Bangladesh and Kenya. Now, it’s become a meaningless tournament to add to the already busy schedule cricketers experience. And of course, another chance for the ICC to schedule as many India-Pakistan matches as possible.

This is not a typical leftist attack on capitalist revenue mongering. For cricket to be a global, international sport, finances and money are richly required. The ICC has, in recent times, taken laudatory moves towards providing context to an increasingly sterile global game with their Test Championship and ODI league proposals.

Now, they need to take that spirit of reform further. Have one flagship, iconic event for each format and build your sport around that. The World Twenty20 is fine, and there was talk of having a World Test Championship. The World Cup has been already been trimmed down to 10 teams. So why have another tournament with just two fewer teams? Scrap the Champions Trophy. As Shastri would say, cricket may well be the “real winner” as a result.

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Removing the layers of complexity that weigh down mental health in rural India

Patients in rural areas of the country face several obstacles to get to treatment.

Two individuals, with sombre faces, are immersed in conversation in a sunlit classroom. This image is the theme across WHO’s 2017 campaign ‘Depression: let’s talk’ that aims to encourage people suffering from depression or anxiety to seek help and get assistance. The fact that depression is the theme of World Health Day 2017 indicates the growing global awareness of mental health. This intensification of the discourse on mental health unfortunately coincides with the global rise in mental illness. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people across the globe are suffering from depression, an increase of 18% between 2005 and 2015.

In India, the National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) revealed the prevalence of mental disorders in 13.7% of the surveyed population. The survey also highlighted that common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. Perhaps the most crucial finding from this survey is the disclosure of a huge treatment gap that remains very high in our country and even worse in rural areas.

According to the National Mental Health Programme, basic psychiatric care is mandated to be provided in every primary health centre – the state run rural healthcare clinics that are the most basic units of India’s public health system. The government provides basic training for all primary health centre doctors, and pays for psychiatric medication to be stocked and available to patients. Despite this mandate, the implementation of mental health services in rural parts of the country continues to be riddled with difficulties:

Attitudinal barriers

In some rural parts of the country, a heavy social stigma exists against mental illness – this has been documented in many studies including the NIMHANS study mentioned earlier. Mental illness is considered to be the “possession of an evil spirit in an individual”. To rid the individual of this evil spirit, patients or family members rely on traditional healers or religious practitioners. Lack of awareness on mental disorders has led to further strengthening of this stigma. Most families refuse to acknowledge the presence of a mental disorder to save themselves from the discrimination in the community.

Lack of healthcare services

The average national deficit of trained psychiatrists in India is estimated to be 77% (0.2 psychiatrists per 1,00,000 population) – this shows the scale of the problem across rural and urban India. The absence of mental healthcare infrastructure compounds the public health problem as many individuals living with mental disorders remain untreated.

Economic burden

The scarcity of healthcare services also means that poor families have to travel great distances to get good mental healthcare. They are often unable to afford the cost of transportation to medical centres that provide treatment.

After focussed efforts towards awareness building on mental health in India, The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), founded by Deepika Padukone, is steering its cause towards understanding mental health of rural India. TLLLF has joined forces with The Association of People with Disability (APD), a non-governmental organisation working in the field of disability for the last 57 years to work towards ensuring quality treatment for the rural population living with mental disorders.

APD’s intervention strategy starts with surveys to identify individuals suffering from mental illnesses. The identified individuals and families are then directed to the local Primary Healthcare Centres. In the background, APD capacity building programs work simultaneously to create awareness about mental illnesses amongst community workers (ASHA workers, Village Rehabilitation Workers and General Physicians) in the area. The whole complex process involves creating the social acceptance of mental health conditions and motivating them to approach healthcare specialists.

Participants of the program.
Participants of the program.

When mental health patients are finally free of social barriers and seeking help, APD also mobilises its network to make treatments accessible and affordable. The organisation coordinates psychiatrists’ visits to camps and local healthcare centres and ensures that the necessary medicines are well stocked and free medicines are available to the patients.

We spent a lot of money for treatment and travel. We visited Shivamogha Manasa and Dharwad Hospital for getting treatment. We were not able to continue the treatment for long as we are poor. We suffered economic burden because of the long- distance travel required for the treatment. Now we are getting quality psychiatric service near our village. We are getting free medication in taluk and Primary Healthcare Centres resulting in less economic stress.

— A parent's experience at an APD treatment camp.

In the two years TLLLF has partnered with APD, 892 and individuals with mental health concerns have been treated in the districts of Kolar, Davangere, Chikkaballapur and Bijapur in Karnataka. Over 4620 students participated in awareness building sessions. TLLLF and APD have also secured the participation of 810 community health workers including ASHA workers in the mental health awareness projects - a crucial victory as these workers play an important role in spreading awareness about health. Post treatment, 155 patients have resumed their previous occupations.

To mark World Mental Health Day, 2017, a team from TLLLF lead by Deepika Padukone visited program participants in the Davengere district.

Sessions on World Mental Health Day, 2017.
Sessions on World Mental Health Day, 2017.

In the face of a mental health crisis, it is essential to overcome the treatment gap present across the country, rural and urban. While awareness campaigns attempt to destigmatise mental disorders, policymakers need to make treatment accessible and cost effective. Until then, organisations like TLLLF and APD are doing what they can to create an environment that acknowledges and supports people who live with mental disorders. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.