Thursday, September 23, 2010

The CWG Syndrome in the Bt Brinjal: Part I. Commonwealth Games

There seems to be two important issues right now that could change the way we think the world thinks of us. One of these, of course, is the Common Wealth Games. India’s role in these games is that of a stakeholder. They are allowed by the Common Wealth Games (CWG) company to run the Games commercially. It is like holding a Beauty Competition.

The other is the Bt brinjal problem that I will discuss in Part II and introduce briefly in the last part of this blog.

Olympic Spirit and Professional Games.

There is little of the original Olympic Mens Sana in Corpore Sano (healthy mind in healthy body) spirit left in such games ever since professional athletes were allowed to participate in the games, upholding thereby the true American Spirit. The classic case cited in favour of professionalism is that of Jim Thorpe who finished in the top 10 of 17 field and track events in the decathlon and pentathlon of the 1912 games. He lost both his gold medals because he took a small salary as a baseball player earlier. That is unfair.

Now, the athletes get their due amount of money. The spectacles of their fights make their adrenalin flow to the enjoyment of otherwise challenged spectators.
For the spectators, these Games are like watching cock-fights or bull-fights or gladiators.
Animal rights people should ask for a ban of these games, really.

Why should we worry about the way we run our games? The athletes’ life is now a life of stress anyway because they run to make a living. They no longer compete for fun, as in truly upper-class British traditions.

It is no fun when there are others who take performance enhancing drugs. A country’s stature is measured by the way they use drugs in before the regulators regulate about them. It is not whether or not you use the drugs but how you hide them. The Games are no longer fun for the athletes who are now meant to be mainly a part of the spectacle getting their payment as bit players, mainly.

It is this magnitude of the spectacle that judges a country.
The country and its propaganda machine should insist that the games would be successful.
The success of the spectacle is aimed to enhance the commercial prospects coming from increased trade including the hospitality industry involved in tourism.
The competitors of this country would do their best to propagate stories to the opposite effect. One would not require staging a terrorist attack or explode a bomb.
One could simply bribe television channels to criticize the authorities in the best of democratic traditions but probably as commercial quislings of another country.

It could also be at the instance of another commercially successful Indian sports body?

Of all the organizers, Suresh Kalmadi seems to be the only one who looks convincing when he say that the games will be a success right from the beginning.
Among the TV channels NDTV 24x7 is the only one that is paying more positive attention to the games.

The success of a hostile campaign is now visible as the common cry of a national shame.
The detractors have won their day! They have highlighted all our national characteristics that we assume to be so unharmfully (Mr. Chips would not have approved of this word, I am sure, but do I care?) natural to us who are brought up on our open fields and our private wastes.

The CWG may come and go. We will go on forever adjusting as we trudge/prance along our manipulated ways.

It could happen that we don’t have to be paid to be a professional quisling or mercenary.

Our problem as a nation is our identity crisis. We would like to do things the way other countries do but – and this should be admirable --- we would like to do it our own way. The only problem is we don’t know which one of our many ways is our way or when it is our way. That is a real identity crisis. That becomes a serious problem when we have to act together as a country. Our built in hierarchical culture requires a well-established hierarchy that gives orders that can be obeyed and keep us together (read Dumont’s Homo Hierarchicus, first paragraph given below but certainly not the most important part regarding hierarchy). So we get together and obstruct others who try to do it one way.

CWG and Kalmadi Bashing

The above concerns are reflected, for instance, in the way we approach the holding of the CWG which would take place largely mainly through the efforts of Suresh Kalmadi, no question about that.

After the CWG was announced to be held in 2010 we relaxed, probably sitting on each other and working out one’s role and one’s gains and which political party would be in power.

We had a upper class as well as upper caste socialist as sports minister who wanted to spend money on other sporting matters for the poor people (read lower castes) and not “waste” it on upper-class CWG.
He did not motivate himself to do anything for the CWG for the years he was minister.
He also publicly swore that he will take himself out of the country during the games than do anything to help the CWG.

However, once the stability of a particular political party that was to be in power was established, things started moving although without the active patronage of any particular person in power. The minister was not re-elected.

It became Kalmadi’s baby.

Kalmadi should have become the sports minister but he could not. His erstwhile buddy, Sharad Pawar, from the same state ran the more powerful cricket lobby (BCCI), which was a more coherent coalition of members from all political parties.

Pawar (probably through his nephew Ajit) and Kalmadi have been deemed to be at each other’s throats for many years now. It is crucial to the NCP fortunes in Maharashtra that the congress image is dimmed by the attack on Kalmadi.

The failure of the CWG would be a blessing to the BCCI now faced with its Modi problems

If I was Pawar, I would not have liked Kalmadi to get high-profile mileage from a quasi high-profile CWG games. Pawar actually was Pawar (construe it whatever way you want, it only depends on your mind).

A systematic campaign aimed at shattering the cohesion among various games bodies that were part of the Olympic charter (does not include cricket) was successful and set the stage for an impending chaos in the organization of CWG.

Then came another elderly person as sports minister who obviously had no idea about sport and their organization. He added fuel to the confusion by wanting old and experiences people out of games committees of sports bodies which they ran --- almost for ever and ever.

International sport is, of course, not run that way, especially when it is of the commercially successful kind. Blatter and Samaranch have been heading the football and Olympic movement forever. Kalmadi is part of that group. They are meant to go on for ever, catering to each other’s taste (and moolah) in the way they know well.
You can’t throw a kida in their daal if you did not know the recipe yourself!

Where is the hierarchy that ensures a smooth functioning? That is the problem!

After all International Games are more a question of making money for the sports and games, construction, hotel, entertainment drugs and flesh industry than it is for the athletes themselves. They make sure they make the money whether the Games are held or not.

The Indian sports committees spent considerable time fighting with each other and the minister. They dismissed the CWG as Kalmadi’s baby and not theirs. The Indian building lobby, who has a record of doing a shoddy job all over India whether in the private sector, would not allow foreign companies a free hand. They wanted the loot for themselves and started bad publicity. I would not be surprised if TV stations or their screeching anchors (can we please examine their own toilets at home?) actually paid money to a few to show the CWG in a poor light for their scoops.

Is it any surprise that every minute aspect of the CWG games is being scrutinized to find and blow up faults?

Poor Kalmadi! He gets the blame for our collective failure simply because he is deemed to be at the top of the heap. Not Mani Shankar Iyer, not Sheila Dixit, not the construction lobby, not the Prime Minster’s Office, not the Sports Minister not the Prime Minister’s Office itself.

All our roads and buildings and bridges collapse. Why do you think it’s not same shame for CWG?

We are like that only, nah? What to do? But things will be okay, yaar.
You only wait and see!

All our wedding are so full of tension till the marriage.
CWG is also like that only!
After that, it is laddus only! No?

How does CWG Syndrome reflect in the Bt brinjal problem?

There is another lurking and serious problem (see Part II) that could affect our lives in a way that could affect us in a way that could change our very eating style. This is the poor bacteria bacillus thuriengenesis known to us by its initials as Bt. When this bacteria is in a stressed condition in its environment it stores crystals of poisonous proteins or toxins in its spores. It is these proteins that are to be incorporated into our vegetable known to the western world as aubergine or brinjal or eggplant or what is popularly known as begun (pronounced as baingan). The debate in academic and farmer circles now is whether we can grow begun with Bt incorporated within it to prevent it from being infested with insects. Instead, the begun will be infested with insecticide. Will we allow such a change to affect our daily lives under the pressure of a western-trained intelligentsia that imagines it is working for the poor man.

It will affect the way we look at our favorite ennai kathrikkai, or baingan bartha, or begun bhaja, or panthaa bhathey tatka begun pora, or rhengan reveya, or bharlivangi, or bagara baingan. Imagine eating something with a built in creepy crawly that you can’t see.

This is certainly not a question of letting baingans be begones.

The decision on this new form of colonization through food could now be now left in the hands of our “scientists” who happily take pride in being the first to be second to western versions.
It has the potential to be far worse than other forms of colonization that is resulting in the national shame of the CWG.

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