In anticipation of the Olympics starting this weekend, we wanted to share some of our books and special issues on sports. Did we touch on all of your favorites? Let us know in the comments. In the most recent issue of Radical History Review, “Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sport,” (#125) contributors explore how and why sport, paradoxically, […]
A recent article written by a respectable author got me thinking.In response, this is what I have to say… Continue reading “The Indian Military: In Captivity ?”
These days we have a contentious point of view of the extremist right aggressively promoted and championed.They have decided to win their war of ideas not just with mere debates or discussions.They have chosen to use all the methods of the so-called constitutional democracy like free speech,legislature, executive, the judiciary and the police in different measures to make this a total war.For the first time the intellectuals,the reasonable,the non-violent elites feel challenged and if I dare surmise a lot wobbly and weak kneed and mostly reactive in their opposition or resistance .Cynicism and a kind of despondency seem to be a natural and sad affliction.
Against this ominous background we hear still muffled and sometimes distant sounds of sanity and courage which lends credence to the might of the pen ! The writings of Romila Thapar is one such which gives hope, clarity and direction.
I would only like to emphasise that the Indian Armed Forces is an implementation arm of the political masters.It is also my understanding that their strategic and tactical actions are also tuned to such political perceptions or policies.This is the legacy of that much applauded apolitical character of the role of the Armed Forces in a so called post colonial democracy and that too in an underdeveloped country. Army does not dictate a larger political philosophy.Instead it is the other way round.Many honest and nationalist generals have voiced their own concerns against a militarist approach and have suggested a political solution as the only solution.That it ends up in a mess is an unwritten tragedy yet but erroneously put in the front door of the Armed Forces which needs, also to to be brought out before the misinformed public.Killing is not the vocation of these men in uniform much as this might be good slogan for motivation.All, need to know they too, need to be understood as patriots with a confused job description. What with nationalism and martyrdom itself misunderstood ever so often !
I have reactions and opinions that may not hold well against cold analysis or facts. I am only privy to the many tweets,videos,social networking site blogs which I seek to elaborate with some educated guesses having been a fan of cricket and erstwhile stars that includes Ganguly and Shastri.We are witness to recriminations and some cultured mud dabs from two of the most articulate and competent cricketers of their time.To compare their abilities would be to commit the classic folly of the orange versus apple story.
It would be fair to say that the little hullabaloo created by the Justice Mudgal’s and Justice Lodha’s investigative report has had some uncomfortable ramifications for the powers that be.In a country and a system which celebrates money and power as equivalence of Integrity the findings have been disturbing minus any other hyperbole’s.Safely however, it can be said to be another drama unfolding as an ongoing serial : Season 1 Episode ? .
That BCCI was an extension of the Mumbai monopoly to be almost a backyard owned, operated ,maintained by the latter but funded by the nation and its public. An open secret, is this.. Pawar’s,Wadekars, Vengsarkars,Gavaskars and the Shastri’s were the visible law above and beyond the reach of the lesser states.The fans and tax paying public do not even exist in the strange corporate rules in vogue of a corrupt democracy.They managed at various stages to not only counter the sometimes vigorous opposition of the Delhi and Southern lobby.In fact one would stretch it to say that there was effective collaboration with the much touted Srinivasan. The fugitive Modi was its most cherished face until then.There have been palace struggles of sorts but very much in the nature of love and bitterness and subsequent falling out between thieves or lovers.Take your pick !.Many stars including Ganguly had been won over with dollops of lucrative assignments. The strategy and thinking was clear to win over possible threat areas and kick the rest.(that is those that are feeble and weak.)If you cannot beat them, Buy them !
Now the game has run its course and another chapter is set to begin with a clutch of stars and superheroes like Tendulkar,Laxman,Dravid,Ganguly and Kumble, the original Five who had set it upon themselves to cleanse a culture of match-fixing post Azharuuddin fiasco. A set of established demagogues or demi-gods like Shastri and Gavaskar are feeling the heat of such a seasonal change.The immediate cause is the non-selection of Shastri and the mysterious one is the ghost of Chappell, too.
It appears that Shastri had been promised by BCCI while opting for the Bangladesh tour that he would be given a two year extension.Also he had emphasised the need for total freedom from the three man Council, comprising of Tendulkar,Dravid and Ganguly recently appointed by BCCI to oversee cricket development in India.He particularly did not want to have Ganguly interfering with his proposed extended stint of coaching.This is rumored to have happened sometime in the second week of June in Chennai.Then,could Ganguly have recused himself? Should Shastri have been physically present for the interview and not hoildaying like an Aristotle Onassis or tanning in some sunny beach overseas a la Capone? One gathers even Sachin was physically missing from the interview and was on video-conferencing mode like Shastri. Why does Shastri figure in all committees of the BCCI? can be interesting points of discussion.One thing is clear that all was not well between the two.Both aggressive and mavericks of a certain kind.Suffice it is for all of us, the gossip loving public( what with no real news coming out and being trapped within faux vanities and decencies of what is the ethics of civilised behavior) to be at least sure of a lot of hubris from either parties.But that would amount to only scratching the surface..
Shastri did not create a Virat or his new team. The untold story of Shastri’s role in the Australian tour fiasco and the unforeseen retirement of Dhoni from Tests may be another skeleton in the cupboard waiting to tumble out .Do we see also some interconnections in the Harsha Bhogle episode of being denied commentating and Sunny Gavaskar still managing to make selective hints on the fissures between him and Shastri through professional disagreements on cricketing issues ? Is Sunny the master Diplomat readjusting himself and creating adequate breathing space for the new dispensation on the anvil?If you are interested in some adrenalin rush or in the frisson of dark speculation then these questions could help : Where is Mr Jaitly putting his money? Is the BJP behind the new attempts of BCCI for a power change, if at all ? Is the Centre of power set to shift from Mumbai? How Is the Shiv Sena playing this and the Bollywood ? Will Virat and Dhoni be the face of the change or the new assault and shift of fulcrum of power ?What about the sponsors and advertisements on which the entire of game of cricket in India thrives? Are we seeing the beginnings of a new shift or the tremors of transition? Is the East and North together in this move?
Conflict of interest and its manipulation by all concerned is something the fans should be watching closely to make out the real from the untrue.And only then, venture forward to contemplating final opinions on this spat. These are but tips of the many icebergs of shady deals and events.To be able to piece together these rather unrelated sparks would be to discover the hidden powder keg of shameful collusion or compromise.
Hamam Mein sab Nangey Hein !
Some six decades ago a child was born to Mrs and Capt.Ghosh of “Kanta Griha” at Cuttack.I remember him some four years or so after his birth as Tokon or more correctly Tuhin Kanta Ghosh ! Happily some sharp images,numerous trivia,happy,funny and sad anecdotes flash or blink in colours bright,sepia or mostly just black and white.And that is how my memory recalls.Today …
An angular,sharp-cut, thin boy in starched Uniform,well ironed, one size larger, perhaps anticipating quick and uneconomic physical growth,lots of oil in the hair (Maha Bhringaraj ?) that most Bengalis put, if they had active Calcutta connections
.A Cycle which was from the “Lost and Missing” list of the” Great Rayman Circus”.This one had a high perch that let your legs dangle like washed trousers of a clothesline on a windy day.The seat was hard solid rock made to ensure celibacy forever.A skilled juggler or a talented circus clown could ride this one and yes, have the entire audience applaud or be in splits.Only Tokon could ride this one,much like those jokers.It was to keep off friends from borrowing that he lent this speciality once in a while.All of them used to get off-balance (and frequently,at that) . The sordid aftermath was a bruised story of spilled blood,painful scars and lots of Tincture-of-Iodine (if that is right).
The tiny me, never touched this awful contraption both for its weight and size.I was inversely proportional, just to mention in passing.
He was blessed with a style known as:”Ghosh Riyaaz” which was typical of Kanta Griha.On any given day and any given time of the evening the house was an acoustic “Bose” Special.A busy honeycomb, abuzz with the flutter and flight of busy bees,fuzzy dragon flies and whining hornets , if you will : from various levels, corners and heights of this very majestically designed house.Curious onlookers used to discover boys and girls of different age groups (the Ghosh’s were a joint family of several brothers and many children) engaged in the esoteric ritual of “mugging”: the art of memorising in different pitches,scales,tonal variations without affecting the concentration and focus of the many brother, sisters and cousins while quite literally ,rubbing shoulders with each other.Memorex is said to have stolen the original patent from here ! Do not however get the wrong notes here.Even before Wilma Rudolph had become a World champion,the pretty girls of Kanta Griha were setting many a sports field on fire.They were sporty and athletic-the children;and the parents ,distinguished lawyers and policemen among other things.
Tokon ,the proverbial good boy could ill afford not to study.The results were quite another matter.He managed his marks and never was in deep trouble for that.He kept his head above the water.The delinquents were mistakenly happy to have him as one of their own while he always belonged elsewhere.He sat in the back benches and it was this deceptive quality that stood him in good stead.His effective and practical intelligence made him “a lambi race kaa ghodaa”.Not quite like an Amitabh in Deevar, though.The dreaded Senior Cambridge came and went. Mr.Saunders,the Anglo-Indian English Teacher,not many knew, lived longer and very fortuitously had a heart attack less, for not knowing that the ‘chokra boy-Tuhin’ had been graded first in the Sunday English Essay Competitions at the famous “Ali Tuitions” akin to the Rau’s IAS Study Circle of yore! Not many would have known either that he had also begun his career of social activism as Secretary of Naujawan Club(which boasted a membership of 9 only)
around this time.
He had the unique distinction of having welcomed and escorted many future politicians on his much abused cycle-carrier !The early musical bands and their talents like Mohd Habib and Sangita Mahapatro of Cuttack had treaded gratefully the sacred portals of this unknown club.He had learnt early how to get along with the trendy and famous.
The Arts seem to have disappointed Tokon enough to help him make his first far thinking commercial-career move.A Bengali thinking of money was “Chi-Chi” and doing business was “kelenkari”.He had made his move .An early bird.Was he? Having graduated from Commerce he moved away to “Calcutta and Mamar Baadi.”He struggled with his Cost Accountancy while adjusting the Books-of- Accounts..The Marwaris,the big financial firms,Simon and Carves,Construction,Real Estate and Infrastructure, remote settlements,god-forsaken locations,cooking for self and colleagues by turn,washing always, far away from friends and family must have taken its toll.The grind was hard but he silently he plodded on.He was his own man always.Things had begun to change.We met him only on occasions and during short leaves.We missed him while he missed us more, perhaps. In any case that is how we thought it was.But,he never spoke.
His heart remained unseen to some friends as it missed many beats.
The arteries of blood supply and oxygen choked.Later and in time,the sick heart healed with clinical care and Tokon came out singed and chastened.Maybe, a trifle frightened too.Doctors and medicine became a part of his life, like destiny.Friends had gotten married since and moved on.
Families grew and shifted while Tokon learnt to live all by himself.Kanta Griha went nuclear.His parents had since passed away.Tushar, his older brother and Boudi Kaberi with their son Abhinandan
were his immediate and constant company.Surely and steadily he gathered his pieces together with the lonely silences and occasional bonhomies.A birthday of the new born of a long forgotten cousin,or a groupie session in mindless drinking,abusive gossip or aimless travel with friends,marriage feasts or funerals became his staple. He had hit the mid-forties by then. A happy best-man,always.He became the shoulder to rest your head on when tired and frustrated,the trusting ear to most complaining wives and naughty husbands,the person to go to for errant and disturbed young.He seemed to have begun to enjoy his single status and the freedom of being unfettered.It was a kind of paradoxical rite of passage. Alongside , most had by this time strangely forgotten his bachelorhood.He was just like everyone else.Only sans wife…
All of this seems to have happened a while ago.Now most of us friends and family are not becoming any the younger.Some of us unforgivably lonely.Some tired of nagging husbands or worrying wives.Some still unhappy with the bank balances, or of children doing worse than themselves.Some still find the selfies not good enough for their wilting alpha-egos and fall victim to flighty fancies of what-could-have-been. In sum – still to make peace with their own lives.
Tokon,on the contrary meets more people
than before,has more girl friends
than the number of days in a year, is more sought after and trusted,sees and travels to more places than your nearest Travel Counsellor,
laughs louder than I have heard myself to do ever,looks and wears better and seems good enough for many marriages! And,Yes ! What is even better is that he
does enjoy doing his own laundry and is not lonely.He is the renowned doctor without an MBBS managing, a flourishing diagnostic clinic.More importantly,his heart is doing good and is very large when last seen.
All said,I cannot forget,however one lunch day at Kanta Griha when Mashima ( his mother) had said while serving”Tomraa shob keyoo to Bandhur Biyer Khata Bhableynaa? Ekhon to Anek Deri hoye gaychey.”(You all,Never thought about the marriage of your friend? Now it has become very late).When asked now,he chuckles.As for me I do not know why i become sad.Even today….
Khoob BhaloTheko Bandhu ! Janmadiner Preeti aar Subechhaa !
Comings and goings are the thing of a mortal world.There are no Gods.We all know.Yet,some in their passing make many to rub their eyes in disbelief,stir themselves,sit up to take notice.One such was this beautiful face of the boxing gloves !
Who of my generation, before or after could have not shared an incandescent glee when each time he had boxer after boxer flat on the ring mat .The pathetic sight of the defeated limbs, tired and bruised body on wobbly legs and a sullen slouch after having gotten up almost after a trippy dream.To behold the mesmeric presence of a silken superior,a silent assassin who felled many an adversary without spilling much blood to revel upon, in a gory gladiatorial sport.Would it then, be too much to praise him as a Gentleman of the Ring.?
Better still who would forget the Cassius Clay
rechristening himself as Muhammad ,making faces at the mighty White Americans in their own backyard and happily going to jail much before most had found Vietnam to be no war of their own ! For this is how I remember him as a child,a hero who articulated what I could not speak or put words to.He was the big brother who had answered my silent prayers and had bashed and shut bullying mouths of the Americans or the British : my Black Param Yodhya. A modern Eklavya ?
.I felt like a proud coward who was happy when he saw his tormentor beaten in a street fight or classroom. He made us believe that Americans were paper tigers with their nuclear bombs even when we or our kind had none.Ho Chi Minh,General Giap ,the guerilla commander, the Vietnamese were the greatest whom we came to recognise. Curiously their courageous sagas were brought home and into our fiery, but infant hearts largely through this man and his much abused mouth.We woke up to the blatant oppression and the indignities of inhumanity subjected on other people and saw in them a shared history struggle and common destinies.
Our small worlds started to become bigger.We got to understand better the pungent wit in the nonplussed interviewee(Dhritiman Chatterjee) when he instinctively reacted to the question on the most important event of the times to be, “the victory of the Vietnamese and not the landing on the moon” in the movie” Pratidwandi”. The Interviewing Board in mock disdain and with clipped accents of the Brown Sahib had famously questioned then, “Are you a communist’?
I shall never know whether you were one.For many believe in their fond minds you were like Spartacus who cared for the weak.May you keep your boxing gloves on for your fight is unfinished yet.And they go well beyond those mortal 15 rounds !
Fare thee, Well !