Killing me softly, with your fix

Published: Fri, 05/31/2013 - 08:27 Updated: Fri, 05/31/2013 - 08:30

Editorial:  June 2013
Hardnews Bureau Delhi

What is really our moral threshold? When do we tell ourselves that an act is morally repugnant and would elicit our outrage?

No one really knows the tipping point of Indians due to the muddle-headed view that we have of morality. After all, many would say that our freedom of action is limited by our past and present deeds and, therefore, how should an act be judged at all if individuals have little control over it? Much of our pompous writing in the print media or the mindless cacophony on news TV does not really square with this attitude of metaphysical determinism which governs Indian life. The truth is that a lot many people care two loud hoots for much of the ‘socially engineered’ morality play that takes place around us. Indeed, in an era of crony capitalism, immorality and the growth rate seem to eternally move in
sweet symphony.

Ever since the Delhi Police nabbed S Sreesanth and two other bit players for allegedly fixing their Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, there were expectations that the multi-billion IPL cesspool would come to grief. The nightmarish scenario that was painted by the hysterical Cassandras who occupy TV studios was that the audience would run away and so would the sundry tycoons and sponsors who have their oily fingers dipped in the dirty pie. Media reports suggested that the audience might turn away. For peddlers of this belief, the truth was embarrassingly dissimilar. As a corporate-backed TV news media raved and ranted, as if they are the divine repositories of truth, objectivity and high moral ground, more people began to show up in the stadiums. The semi-finals and the finals were bursting at the seams. The audience seemed unmindful about the morally decrepit character of the players, and the thick-skinned mandarins who run the game, bereft of an iota of accountability or transparency.

Is this because of the way we are, especially those who live in the clichéd, ‘upwardly mobile aspirational India’? Or is it because the audience does not really buy the holy cow police version? Can all the 22 players be paid off to under-perform or can the outcome of a match be decided through spot-fixing, including a 20-20 game? How many players and officials are tacitly involved, and how many are in the know?

This is not the first time that the game has been besieged by allegations. In 1999, when Hansie Cronje was found talking to a bookie and many cricketers came under the arc of suspicion, it seemed that the game would die a slow death. Since then, cricket has bounced back with greater vigour, especially in India, floating on unimaginable wealth — dirty, dirtier, murkier. And yet, the audience sees it as nothing but instant entertainment and inevitable catharsis. If fixing is on, then it too seems to have become a ‘way of life’.

In this simulated ‘consumer society’ of the desperately upwardly mobile, where a scam a day keeps everyone happy, healthy and gay, the detached collective conscience seems unaffected by spot-/match-fixing or the dubious doings of miscellaneous mafiosi and mafias, opportunist politicians in a flexible nexus, failed film stars jumping up and down, shady businessmen under official scrutiny, and compromised ex/current cricketers who are all making hay while the sun shines.

Hence, is immorality as infinite as a daily scam? Or, is it that the laws of the land seem lazy when it comes to the rich, sleazy and powerful? In that sense, is this contemporary, neo-liberal superpower India truly an idealized utopia of a corrupt society, forever in denial?

This story is from print issue of HardNews