Wednesday 30-March’11 was not a usual day both in India and Pakistan; it was a day when both these countries “battled” in semi-final cricket match of ICC world Cup at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali-a city in Northwestern Indian state of Punjab. ICC is an apex body and can be compared to FIFA; ICC organizes Cricket World Cup once in four years. The winner of this match would get in final match against Sri Lanka, an island country on southern eastern tip of Indian peninsula.
India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers, have strained relations, for last 6 decades, in Political, Military, and Religious spheres which also affect sports, even to a game of Cricket which is known as Gentlemen’s Game. This situation draws lots of attention towards this sporting event, from all the strata of society alike, which reaches to the extent of anxiety. A cricket match between these two countries is not left merely as a sport, but becomes a crusade of national pride and Cricket supremacy! Plus both the teams have pressure of winning against their archrival, as it is considered more important, by those for whom Cricket is a religion and exist in both the countries, than winning World Cup itself.
To draw a parallel imagine Israel and Palestine, or North Korea-South Korea, or even more accurately America and Taliban as contestants in any sport. Probably the relationship between India and Pakistan is more complex than the above examples put together.
If this was not enough, this match was made super high profile by Dr. Manmohan Singh’s, Indian Prime Minister and Architect of India’s economic liberalization of 1991, invitation to Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Bollywood Superstars (Indian Film industry), and Indian Inc. top honchos were also present to witness this historic match and cheer Team India. Reportedly Hollywood star Josh Hartnet also enjoyed this match while shooting for a crossover film in Central India.
Typically during such matches, albeit this match was unprecedented, the national productivity levels, level of attentiveness, and presence in offices dips significantly.
To hedge this many diligent and empathetic companies in India either declared a half day leave, which would be compensated some day later, or altered their working hours from standard 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM to 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM or even earlier and for those who had to be in office inevitably, TV sets or match screening through projectors was arranged. Prime minister of Pakistan Mr. Gilani, declared a half day leave for Government Employees of Pakistan.
This measure offered multiple benefits, first it ensured that there was no substantial productivity loss or disturbance in essential services, like call centers, medical services etc. Second employees felt accommodated as they got chance to watch this high voltage match with their friends and families instead of being in office unnecessarily. Third it instilled a confidence of a possibility to work out a win-win situation between workforce and management. Arguably this was the one of the biggest employee engagement initiative, which showed instant results as employees returned charged and excited next day, this scene however was in India as India had won against Pakistan.
There are other perspectives to look at this match; one is a social perspective which shows how unifying a sport could be, even for an immensely diverse India, this was evident on roads in India after victory where poor and BMW-owners celebrated India’s success till late night. The other perspective is diplomatic where 2 prime ministers sat next to each other and assured each other of smoother and warmer relations ahead. Also the way both teams played showed the world that it is not impossible to play against archrival with discipline, civility, and sportsmanship. From a Management and Leadership perspective the resurrection of Indian Cricket team, Indian Cricket team Captain ‘cool’ Mahendrasingh Dhoni’s Leadership, and Mentorship of Former South African Cricketer Gary Kirstein, each of them are worthy of becoming a case study in itself.
About the Author
Roshan Rawal is mid-level HR professional and is working in a volatile and competitive Indian outsourcing/off shoring industry. He has contributed extensively in areas Talent Acquisition, Building new teams and practices, Institutionalize and optimize HR processes, Training and Development, compliance to ISO and CMM, benchmarking etc. Lately he has been driving Employee Engagement activities. He is also in support of idea of Open Training.