The Unbearable Heaviness of Being 'Dalip'

By Amit Sengupta

Lalit Modi is the new star of the new carnival. And it's not only the buxom assets of the white-skinned females imported from Australia and the US, repeatedly shown as breaking news/commercial breaks, interviewed by chubby female reporters, the cameras chasing them, front-paged, back-paged, everyday. As if India has rediscovered its de facto post-colonial revenge. Your white skin, your female cliché: our big bucks, our eyeful of mazaa.

It's not even the fact that a 45-day, 59 match, cricket jamboree reeking of sweaty billions, where cricketers are bought, sold and transported from across trans-continents, jet-setting from one Eastman colour carnival to another, is now bursting out of its seams, wallowing in its own excess. It's also not just a voyeuristic catharsis of the masala mix of Bollywood with TV add-ons, film stars, starlets, sixes and fours, white skin, big boobs, big bonanzas, and small-time rookies turning millionaires overnight.

Because, my dear, it's all about efficiency. And competence. Of the competitive market forces. The Great Efficiency of the Great Indian Cricket Bazaar.

That's why Lalit Modi is the new star of the new political economy of cricket carnival. And nobody's talking of match-fixing here, not even the purists, not the punters.

The only fixing which is happening in this reality show of a perfect 20-20 is that we can do it if we want to do it. Even if the rush of blood is only for hard cash, so be it, this is Superstar India - from Incredible to Unstoppable: So just chill and go for it baby -- airbrush the rest of realism's dark irony. Shut it, fill it, forget it.

Forget the darkness at noon. Witness this great, efficient, dazzling organisation of a gigantic prime time public spectacle stretched across a huge country, and a superb success story on top of that, even while the stands are reportedly full of free-loaders and sundry kith and kin of this and that fat cat. Truly, a superpower is a superpower. And because this is bigger entertainment - bigger than Pokhran II, the Hindutva bomb. And it only proves, that if we want, we can do it. Because I love my India: East or West, India is the Best. And there is always a Lalit Modi waiting to do it. Just do it.

While the rest of India is Waiting for Godot...

It's just that we goof-up badly when we don't want it. It's like a lifestyle health story: the inevitable headache before having sex. So we quickly pop in pain-killers. Like when the earthquake struck Bhuj and Gujarat, and the ‘dead and alive' bodies remained buried under the rubble for days on end, even while the army, most often with bare hands, lifted the boulders, and the Israeli and Japanese rescue teams had no clue where to go, what to do. Forget quake-resistance architecture, there was not even a sleepwalker-dream of a disaster-management plan. Ditto, during and after the carnages in Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat - 1984, 1992-93, 2002. In Delhi, citizens and students organised the Nagrik Ekta Manch and relief camps for the survivors of the State-sponsored massacre, whereas the Congress government washed its hands off the headache. In Gujarat, tens of thousands of survivors, of yet another meticulously organised, State-sponsored massacre, survived in the stinking, rotting, sub-human Shah Alam Camp in Ahmedabad, while the BJP regime in the state and Delhi, wilfully, refused to provide an iota of relief. Even till this day, hundreds live in scattered refugee camps, while others are exiled and condemned in their own homeland - but sorry, neither the State, nor the market, is remotely touched by this (in) human paradox. There is the new blue-eyed boy of the corporates, Narendra Modi, calling the shots, but unfortunately, no Lalit Modi.

One monsoon downpour: the entire capital gets jammed. That is, when it's not jammed 24x7, because, everyday, hundreds of swanky cars are swarming the choked streets. For days, a flooded Bombay sank in its own watery hole, but the State and the market of this financial hub remained unmoved. After tsunami, the people built tin-shacks in this heat, while volunteers came with food and water - no sir, not a sign of those who are in the billionaires' list of the Forbes magazine.

In just about 20 overs, I can give 222 such examples of Incredible India's superpower efficiency, faster than Gilly's ton: from the Liberhan Commission, 1992, which is still on, to the food riots in Bankura and Purulia in Bengal (and Nandigram), to our rotting rivers, every one-room primary school without a blackboard, to the district hospitals, which remind us, poetically, of mortuaries. But time is short, and some people are born unequal. Or else, if Sharad Pawar can preside over this gigantic carnival with such productive super-efficiency, why couldn't he do the same with equal urgency in his own suicidal backyard in Vidarbha? Surely, Lalit Modi could have done a fantastic job. Perhaps even unstoppable Shobha De!