“What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India — the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere.”
Hope everybody knew the slap episode of Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. Today’s morning newspapers have come up with photographs in its masthead of Bhajji (Harbhajan singh) hugging sreesanth and asking for apology. The kiddish cry of sreesanth and all the drama that has followed reminds another infamous episode, not in cricket but of the so-called entertainment industry. The great saga of Shilpa shetty in UK big brother show and the Indian brothers and sisters who fought for her!
Some may question why you differentiate them, as after all cricket too falls under entertainment industry. I appreciate the validity of the question. But since I am ‘biased’ and ‘cynical’, I thought of getting a fair opinion. I questioned about the money involved and the extravaganza of the Twenty20 to one of the cricket fan I know, and he shot back clearly. “Cricket is no more a sport, it’s an entertainment business.” Yet he loves cricket just because he has got used to watching it. Cricket, Cinema and Religion are the three opiums of India and Twenty20 is the grand new reality show of the great entertainment business of this country.
We are able to see all the shining stars of the ‘shining India’, or in Shoba de’s words which they understand better, of the brand ‘Superstar India –from incredible to unstoppable’, come together at this grandeur event. Vijay mallya, Sharukh khan, Preity zinta, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, etc., etc… The only resentment was raised by saffron and that too was only on the attire of cheerleaders. The loose-controlled angry ‘rebels’ of the awakened, new Rang De Basanti generation and its gurus shot back. “The clothes and dance moves of Cheerleaders are not more vulgar than that of any Indian cinema. Then, why not this?” Satellite channel anchors condemned the Maharashtra BJP government of moral policing for banning cheerleaders dance in Mumbai IPL matches. So according to BJP, there is no issue if the cheerleaders wear full-covered saree after all even Bal Thackeray is also a lover of sports like cricket other than his favorite blood sports.
It’s not the targeted bikini clad cheerleaders but the entire Twenty 20 is a wicked and vulgar extravagant display of the so-called global Indians and it’s nauseating in its entirety. When Inflation and price rise of essential commodities is threatening the near existence of this country, When economists and even world bank officials warn of an awaiting unrest and chaos due to the food crisis in 33 countries of the world including India, when these nostradamus predictions have already got proved right in the food riots that took place in Haiti, Egypt, Senegal and Cameron in the last two months, when it’s a proven statistic that for every half-an-hour an Indian farmer takes the extreme step of his life, these bastards of bats and balls are bursting crackers in crores. Twenty 20 is the ugliest act of the Indian elite to show its urge to merge with the world elite. As Amit Bhaduri notes, “According to the Forbes magazine list for 2007, the number of Indian billionaires rose from nine in 2004 to 40 in 2007: much richer countries like Japan had only 24, France 14 and Italy 14. Even China, despite its sharply increasing inequality, had only 17 billionaires. The combined wealth of Indian billionaires increased from $ 106 to $ 170 billion in the single year, 2006-07 [information from Forbes quoted in Jain and Gupta 2008]. “ Twenty 20 has become possible in India only because of the mushrooming new billionaires and the ‘trickling down’ of their wealth to some sections of the upwardly mobile classes and now, it’s their party time.
The over enthusiastic media, cheering crowds, stars and dancers reminds me one of Prof. Madhukar’s post which follows below.
In a talk on Neoliberal Destructions – which are uploaded at Google video here (part1), here (part2) and here (part3) – that P Sainath gave in Univ of California , Berkeley, he ends his talk with the Cornelius Tacitus’ description of Nero’s parties:
Emperor Nero’s parties in his garden were attended by all the Who’s Who of Rome. Often the the parties were in progress, but then the dusk fell, and night arrived. There was no light around for the guests to continue to enjoy the festivities. Nero came up with a innovative solution to provide illumination: the prisoner and poors were brought and burnt on the stakes party all around the arena to illuminate the garden… Tacitus (The Annals, Book XV, C.E. 62-65 ) noted:
“(they) were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle.”
…and the party continued….
Of course, Nero, as most people know, was mad and cruel – and so, his conduct is perhaps not really so surprising – even if it was sensational.
But what about Nero’s Guests?
They were, after all, the prominent elites of Rome – the intellectuals, the traders, the artists… sort of the “owners” of Roman culture and prosperity… (one would perhaps find them similar to our contemporary urban eduacated elites in temperaments and aspirations)…
It is important to understand the psyche of people – our own, actually- who could enjoy their wine and food, while the crackling light from burning bodies provided illumination to their delights…
as the party (i.e., the GDP, the Shopping Malls, the brands, GDP, SEZs, etc.) continues…
….So, are you one of the “Nero’s Guests”?
I don’t even have a trace of belief that these whiz kids of globalisation will ever care our words. But the vast masses of India who are getting marginalized as waste by the same globalisation, will definitely arise against this system which is nearing by, thanks to the price rise and inflation. On that day, all Nero’s guests will be paid back in Bhajji’s language, one tight slap!