Cricket is a game of skill (though not too much of it is required in its shortest version) and chance, in that order. Chance, we are told, plays a minor but important part in success, that one match may be decided by luck, but over many matches it is skill that wins. There is, however, a parallel, underground industry worth thousands of crores which has latched on to the chance factor—the world of cricket betting. Run by syndicates, a convenient coming together of legitimate businesses and the mafia, based in Dubai, Singapore and London, the betting industry is a global enterprise with branches in your locality.

Our cover story (“Luck by chance”) unravels this underground business. Journalist Arpit Parashar, who managed to get access to a bookie in Rajasthan’s Sikar and shadow him as he went about his business during the India-Pakistan match in the recently concluded ICC World Twenty20, says that it is a highly organised, efficient and a decentralised operation. Even the payouts, particularly the big ones, are made by legal channels through real estate deals and transfer of shares in private companies. Of course, all bookies believe that spot fixing is prevalent in the game.

Our other narrative takes a close look at the rise of Salafism—the hard, uncompromising Islamic school that originated in Saudi Arabia—in Kashmir, a land with a centuries-old Sufi tradition. The rise of this hard faith challenges the very identity of Kashmir, and is in many ways a fallout of militancy and militarisation.

Do read our essay on India’s dying languages. The rise of globalisation in the post-colonial world has taken its toll on our linguistic heritage, languages are dying everywhere, and it is time for immediate action to protect them. Languages contain worlds inside them, are cultural repositories of our history and shape our discourse from science to democracy, says G N Devy, who is part of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, a pathbreaking exercise that aims to map and record languages in danger of fading away.
Cattle shelters in drought-hit Vidarbha, the region also besieged by a scam in the irrigation sector, have become a refuge for the people too. Our photo story this month captures life in one such the cattle camp.

Don’t miss our interview with Manu Joseph, whose second novel The Illicit Happiness of Other People has just been released.

Saurav Kumar, Editor

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