Cricket formed the backdrop of the Raisina Dialogue 2023 in New Delhi last week, with Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaking of Captain Prime Minister Narendra Modi overseeing a good game.
"With Captain (PM) Modi, the net practice starts at 6 in the morning and goes on till fairly late... He expects you to take that wicket if he gives you the chance to do it," Jaishankar said, with reference to the busy Indian Cabinet calendar.
During a discussion entitled 'Turbulence, Temperament, and Temerity: Leadership in the Age of Uncertainty', the focus was on India's geopolitical role.
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair said: "The trouble with the UN Security Council reform, which of course should happen... it's absurd to think that India is not a permanent member but you could say that about other countries as well.
"But leave aside that because the problem always with reforming the UN Security Council is how do you get consensus? The West has got no option but to share the power. The question is how you make sense of international diplomacy in this new world."
Noting that India is now a bigger economy than Britain, he added: "It is a geopolitical power, it is a post-colonial country that dominates the original English sport of cricket.
"I think India is a country seen by many as an objective friend. And I think it's got the opportunity now to lead the Global South in a way that's never been true before.
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"Real challenge today is how to make sense of the shifting geopolitics and in that position, India is absolutely critical because the progress in India in the last few years has been remarkable and extraordinary. And I think the position of India now, this is again my view as an outsider, is potentially more powerful than it's ever been with the G20. This is, in a way, a demonstration of its authority on the global stage."
Former cricketer Kevin Pietersen, who was also part of the discussion, said that "the war, conflict and pandemic have made the world a scary place" and therefore sport can be used to unite and bring people together, it should be used for the purpose.
"The war is scary. Pandemics and future pandemics are scary. So, when we talk about cricket and the opportunity to unite, sport should be used. I think that sport can be used in some sort of fashion to be able to try and mend it (the world)," he said.
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The former captain of the England cricket team, Pietersen added: “Right now, any opportunity to unify and unite, whether it's countries, whether it's people, it needs to happen.
“The last couple of years has been chaos for all of us. So, if there are new opportunities and we need to change the way that we think, I think now is the right time to do it. And if cricket or sport is something that can be used in a conversation why can't we use it.”
*Info: Raisina Dialogue 2023