Tuesday 25 June 2013

It is time for a moratorium on …. You decide.

The month of May mostly brought us anguish and heart burn: for some for the right reasons but for many for non-issues. Chinese intrusion inside the sensitive Ladakh region and Maoist massacre at Chattisgarh should have made Indian psyche burn in anguish. And Indian collective mind did burn and it did for IPL Cricket scandals.  Such is the stranglehold of Cricket in the minds of Indian people.

China has been making systematic plan of weakening Indian geo-political advantages in the region. Apart from the 'String of Pearls' the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities around Indian Ocean which effectively neutralizes the naval advantage that India has over China and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean, now China has also connected a strategically important Pakistani port Gwadar port via rail, road and air routes. This makes it possible for a China-Pakistani coordinated encircling of India through a naval network. The deal was signed by the authorities of two nations May this year – when Indians were enthralled in a voyeuristic pursuit of IPL scandal over that colonial hangover called cricket that is more a gambling than a game – even in its pre-degenerate days when it used to be played without cheerleaders in miniskirts.

 Maoists have been launching deadly attacks on our security personnel, democratic setup, using every weakness and corruption in our polity luring the frustrated and righteously angry youths as well as marginalized tribals into their ranks. On the day of the recent massacre perpetrated by Maoists, the social networks of Indian cyberspace buzzed more with IPL scandal than with this inhuman barbaric attack committed by a section of our own people on us.  Can one think of US cyberspace talking about a baseball scandal on 9/11 evening? Welcome to the modern mind of India where the opiate of a colonial game makes people worry more about the scandal in the gambling lanes of their metro-cities than their own kith massacred in the killing fields of Chattisgarh.

Bollywood-cricket-human auctioning-millions of rupees- obscene consumerism: it is all heavy heady cocktail for the terrorist network, next door and inside India, which has already taken strong roots in the shadowy financial world of Bollywood. Dawood and his boys would have to be moronic imbeciles if they are not using this brew to boost their operations and control over the financial empires of India. And they have definitely done a perfect job – even as our middle class cheered with meaningless jingles the action of the greased palms in the cricket creases.    

Let it be said that cricket has for long sucked the vitality of our national youth, drained our national resources mercilessly and has imposed itself on our collective psyche like a demon. Think of the unsung heroes and heroines of other sports and games. See the way Chinese and Japanese sports and games are promoted worldwide and see just how much attention Kabadi gets. In fact Kabadi is the naturally evolved sports of this nation. It unites India in a way we have never given its due. If one has seen the players belonging to any state – Punjab or Gujarat or Tamil Nadu- before entering the field instinctively touching the soil and venerating the Mother Earth, one would surely understand how much of a civilizational value that game represents. Promoting Kabadi internationally is promoting also Indic values and cultures worldwide. But where is the money? Where is the media limelight that is due? It has all gone into that colonial drain called cricket which now also finances Dawood to plot further massacres of Indians.

Or wrestling: It is one of the most beautiful games in the world. It is about flexibility and strength. It is a scientific game. It is not barbaric as boxing where the players routinely spend the evenings of their lives immobilized and privacies of their lives as socially hostile individuals. But in India wrestling has been nurtured as a spiritual tradition. The Akharas with Hanuman as the spiritual Guru of the sports, has created a vibrant network of logistics for the players throughout India. When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympics games, where was the outrage that should have been there in India? It was missing because all sports energy has been channelized into that colonial game called cricket.  

Or Hockey: India was once the best team in hockey in the world, and The Indian men's field hockey team is the most successful field hockey team in Olympic history with 8 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals. However we and our media notoriously let hockey fade from our attention. Where was the national euphoria when India beat France in 2012-Olympic qualifier hockey with a resounding 8-1? Where did vanish the media lime light and adulation for Sandeep Singh, who scored against France five goals – including a hat-trick? Where was the national outrage, when hockey player Dhanraj Pillay was humiliated by powers of petty politics which systematically destroyed hockey in India? When was the last time one saw a hockey player endorsing a product in Indian television channel?  

Or Archery: How many of us remember the tragedy of Limba Ram – the boy from the Ahari tribe of Rajastan who was nurtured by Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and who went on to create world records and win gold medals for India in International Archery and ultimately ended up living in the garage of an MLA when a shoulder injury –not properly treated- affected his archery talents? Where are those advertisements which featured Limba Ram – a worthy descendant of Arjuna and Rama- and where are those posters which adore the youth hostels projecting him as a youth icon for millions of Indian youths?

The simple answer is cricket swallows it all. Like a glutton cricket has lapped up all our time, energy, money, and media light. In return it has given us degeneration, corruption and scandals. 

To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, even with the best of our efforts India can only be a third rate cricket playing country but with a little more effort it can create the best teams in hockey, chess, wrestling, Kabadi and archery. Then for Indian sports and games, scandal shall become a rarity and Olympic medals in dozens a habitual reality.

Aravindan Neelakandan

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