I, these days, skip almost all Indian News channels as they spend hideous an amount of time over Panel discussions on IPL : the country’s all pervasive, all-encompassing religion – Cricket in an entertaining and glamorized format (now, let’s add ‘Scandalized’ word too! anyways, we are not new to scams, scandals..it flows in our blood, it throbs in our bones)….The Indian media, to a large extent, undoubtedly and shamelessly, thrives on or chases News which have High Sensational quotient (Death, Massive attacks on people who usually do not feature in the country’s economic leaps, find place in this genre) and High on Comfort for our senses (we, the strivers in India who aspire for hi-comfy lifestyles do not want to shed tears, we do not want to feel sad, we do not want to see depressing images of poverty, unfortunate deaths, ….we just want to get excited, we do not mind doing that tiny bit of stretching our hands n sms our opinion, about an issue in consideration, in terms of ‘Y’ or ‘N’, display a smile of instant satisfaction and slip into deeper layers of nonchalance).
Amidst the whole mass of nonsensical news, exciting updates and loud Breaking News that is manufactured with ridiculous a level of enthusiasm and energy by the Indian media, I came across this Last word from Nandita Das in THE WEEK, truly an honest / sincere voice reflecting the current state of affairs in India.
Nandita Das, an award-winning Indian film actress and director who is known for her critically acclaimed performances in Fire, Earth, Bawandar and Aamar Bhuvan, writes “For the last many mornings we have all started our day with headlines on the IPL. Not about the game, the matches or the players, but the scam, the shocking deals, money laundering, and nexuses beyond our imagination. We have lost track of what is truth and what is fiction in all the versions of stories we have been hearing. For someone like me who has not kept up with the IPL news, sports or otherwise, the magnitude of money and muscle involved in it became clear only after the Pandora’s box opened.
I never felt the absence of cricket in my life, but was well aware that it was a religion in our country, at par with its only competitor, the movies. Recently, a friend told me, only half in jest that I was not true Indian if I did not follow either of the religions. So when my husband got passes for the IPL match in Mumbai a few weeks ago, I decided to witness the euphoria. It was even beyond what I had imagined. The cheers, the energy, the excitement, it was all so palpable. Every time the home team made 4 or 6 runs, the human wave the audiences made, in complete unison, was a spectacle. I found myself inadvertently joining the frenzy.
But when I read about the scam and the controversy involving the IPL, I wondered what the 40,000 odd spectators who were watching the demi-gods were feeling. Was there a deep sense of betrayal or were they simply irritated by the distraction from the pure pleasure of the game? Or have they just become plain cynical as nothing nowadays seems to be above-board? Have we just got used to scams and so losing faith in yet another institution or a rich and famous man is no longer shocked? Either ways it is tragic.
But what disturbs me is that all other news that should agitate or inform us more about the world we live in, is finding no space. I am not talking about the media where the space is shrinking for news that is not sensational, not urban, unless scandalous, but the shrinking space in our minds and hearts? I was shocked to read that a 13-year old girl who was repeatedly raped, got pregnant and wanted to terminate her pregnancy, but the courts did not permit her to do so. Already struggling with the trauma, she was neither physically nor mentally fit to have a baby. With time ticking for the young girl, the delay will only mean death of justice. This was a much smaller news than the IPL scam and we did not get a minute-to-minute update on it, and for that only we are to be blamed.
There are many corners of the country that development has forgotten to touch and for we are to be blamed. I recently read a piece in a weekly magazine about the dismal condition of the people of Malkangiri district in Orissa (of course the cover story was the IPL scam). If you have never heard of the place, I do not blame you, as nor I have, despite being half Oriya. It is a back of beyond place with no roads, no electricity, no infrastructure, just abject poverty and a justifiable simmering anger. As the state has abandoned its role, the Maoists are their government, their police, their savior. People are caught between irresponsible governments and groups engaged in violent retaliations. Sadly all this does not agitate us enough to raise our voices, or even bring it to our public discourse. There are bigger scams happening all the time where the faceless, nameless person is the victim.
To get the audience rooting for the underdog has often been a good way to ensure the success of a film, but when are we going to see that in real life? When are we, the privileged, going to stand up for those who have no voice in the world of exciting scams and sensational marriages? Those stories will never make it to the headlines, but if we want to know more and start caring about the disadvantaged then maybe the TRP ratings will go up, making it a win-win situation for all!
They say for a collective consciousness to shift you only need 7% of the population to endorse an idea. And I am sure that should not be difficult if we all start thinking about those who have gone to the margins of our papers and our minds. So as always, the onus is on us and the time to make the shift is, now.”