Two reports in Times of India prompted me to write this piece.
The first report appeared on May 11, 2021, in the Times of India titled ‘A batsman’s dream‘: UK study says bamboo beats willow. This explains the research study of Darshil Shah and Ben Tinkler Davis of Cambridge University that bats made of laminated bamboo were stronger than those old fashioned from the traditional willow. It had also highlighted the sweet part of the bat in bamboo bat generates power but the first prototype was 40% heavier which can be reduced with further research.
The second report titled “MCC rejects bamboo bat, say it is illegal quoting that the current law 5.3.2. states that the blade of the bat must consist of wood and so far bamboo is concerned it is grass“. This prompted nay provoked me into getting interested in the product of bamboo bats with My travel in the Northeast & the abundance of bamboo.
Northeast states investor were shy on account of two fundamental reasons. First, the infrastructure and second was the investment climate.
Firstly my innings of dealing with attracting and incentivizing industrial investment in North East during my tenure in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (Known as the Department of Industrial Development then) took me on travel to many places in all of the North-Eastern states. During these extensive as well as intensive travels I always wondered, why the bamboo available in abundance in all these states cannot be harnessed into final products. Also, bamboo as a product in a supply chain is replenished very fast unlike the timber and attendant veneer etc. And the death knell occurred to industrialization in North East with the Supreme Court order of December 1995, directing certain compliances for the timber industry; leading to its prohibitive costs and cascading sickness. Regarding this bamboo harnessing, I discussed with a distant relative who was a technologist who settled abroad. He also developed certain possibilities with my networking, I got the Commissioner of Industry of a North Eastern state interested. But he had the problem of finding an investor in this unchartered territory. As a public servant, I moved on to different work domains. This idea was always in my hindsight.
Achievements of NDA in Northeast
Northeast states investors were shy on account of two fundamental reasons. First, the infrastructure, and second was the investment climate. Besides, there were issues of inner line permits which were secondary which as is the practice is circumvented through co-opting a local as a partner in the enterprise. But after 2014 this changed. Firstly the challenging law and order and insurgency climate changed due to continuous trust-building efforts of Kiren Rijju accompanied by addressing the livelihood issues of local by Ms. Smriti Irani through E-Dhaga, Silk reeling incentivizing schemes and locally harnessed silk, etc. Dr. Jitendra Singh personally paid a lot of attention to improving infrastructure in the Northeast so much so that now it is perceived as a more favorable investment destination than West Bengal or Bihar amongst the investors. Besides as a Deputy Financial Adviser in the Ministry of Textiles, I had also come to know of efforts to harness bamboo in Agartala through a Development and Training Centre under the aegis of NCDPD (National Center For Design And Product Development) which is the design arm of Development Commissioner Handicrafts under the Ministry.
Protecting turf by the UK
Now the alacrity with which MCC countered the use of bamboo bats by quoting an out-of-date Law state reflects their efforts to protect their turf and economic interests. Firstly, let us get it right. Willow is mostly available in Kashmir and UK. Kashmir willow growers mostly are in the informal sector and the proceeds of their product are received by them in informal channels and the money at times channeled out through several avenues like cross border trade, hawala, etc., into the hands of separatists and terror groups. Besides bamboo as a raw material is a much better bet to ecology than willow. Also, the abundant resources of bamboo available in the North-Eastern states could be a game-changer in the economic scenario in the Northeast which could generate employment in the region, create harmony, and could bathe the region in prosperity, and curb the activities of Indian insurgent groups.
Harness India’s cricket power
Now it is incumbent upon the Government to take up these bamboo bats with the world cricket body. If MCC rules do not permit a technical interpretation, it is not invoking any danger to the players, officials, or spectators. India is a cash cow of the International Cricket Council (ICC) given the overwhelming following of the sport in the country. If required it should use this financial muscle to arm-twist the ICC. These are not days when during the matches of the world cup and other international events in the 1990s as quoted by Sunil Gavaskar the legend, that lunch spread during the breaks of matches involving India and other South Asian nations or West Indies used to be frugal whereas in the matches involving England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa the spread used to flow with the richest and most nutritious food on the palate as he said during 1992 World Cup in Australia. This is our time – we will set the rules. It is important because it is in the interest of the Indian economy and security also. An entire region can prosper out of it.
Same NDA team to take up
We have the same three ministers who are at the helm. Kiren Rijju is the Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs. It concerns both of his domains. Smriti Irani should call upon NCPDP which is headed by an able designer and technocrat Rakesh Srivastava to attend immediately on the technology and skilling as well as cost reduction. Dr. Jitender Singh should follow up with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce to go on a promotional mode in this regard. This is an opportunity. This is also the beginning. Maybe if we are successful in cricket bats, we can later go into developing baseball bats and hockey sticks and make them international compliant.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 ‘A batsman’s dream’: UK study says bamboo beats willow – May 11, 2021, Reuters
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