Oh so Kolkata Knight Riders won the IPL. Brilliant. The slogans of ‘Aamhi Kolkata, we rule’ could be heard all across the Eden Garden stadium. Rallies in Kolkata, Didi, Lathi charge and frenzied celebrations are happening in Kolkata as I write this. Didi would never allow ‘red’ jerseys for any of the teams in Bengal though. Enough talked about how much money is being pumped into the league and the associated controversies. I am not going to repeat the same old points.
The ‘much bigger’ problem lies somewhere else. Indian Premier League caters to the metropolis or the cities, who have developed team loyalties over the years. Of course, IPL covers the four metros and four other tier-II cities. The matches are relayed by a private broadcaster Sony Max. The reach of private channels cannot be compared to a public broadcaster like DD. The news channels have been relaying the highlights of the same matches, with much added drama. They tend to use a lot of ‘war terminologies’ to add drama to the news. Drama attracts everyone, and at the same time it blinds everyone to other things that exist around us.
And why not! The Delhi team is rightly called the ‘Delhi Daredevils’. They dare to link a woman’s character to rape, and not blame it on men. Gurgaon and Noida have become the hotbed of crime. A 23-year-old married woman working in a pub in Sahara Mall was gangraped by seven youths in a flat. Ironically, the name of the pub was ‘The Last Chance’. And even that was snatched away from her. Are the acts of racism against the students of North East an act of Daredevilry? Delhi topped the crime charts for fifth year in a row is not an important news. The important news is that Delhi failed to win the IPL in all its five seasons.
A privately owned team which is a capitalist venture, owned by the elites in the society is supposed to represent a city/ state as a whole. This very concept is beyond logic. Some new players got a chance to play in this season of the IPL. The owners see the worth of the players and are ready to pump in a lot of cash to buy them. Players who perform in the IPL are closely monitored by the BCCI. They are later given a chance to play in the Indian Cricket team. And then IPL is hailed by everyone for bringing about a change, as if we never had a Ranji Trophy. What happened to Ranji being the absolute parameter of judgement? And it makes more sense than IPL, as test matches and ODI’s can judge a player’s worth accurately.
Of course, no one is interested in watching these matches. We don’t have the time for serious news or test matches. We don’t have the time to understand issues deeply. Who wants to read up on depressing news? We all want the glossy Times of India, where advertisements and articles are one and the same. And how does it matter to us if IPL is fixed or not? It is anyway a capitalist venture, a business. Why are you so interested in this venture? Others are not. People who watch Doordarshan in the villages are not exposed to it. Even if they were they couldn’t have related themselves to it.
I won’t even talk about the objectification of cheerleaders, because that is something that even happens in Basketball, baseball and other sports. So why blame Cricket alone? It is just following the ‘trend’. Living conditions in the slums of Mahestala and Kolkata are pathetic. No safe drinking water, no electricity even in the houses of the middle-class. Muslims who are a majority in Mahestala educate their daughters only up to class fifth. Women are rag pickers, domestic help without any decision making authority. Domestic violence is rampant, policemen do nothing apart from harassing the slum dwellers. And there is no ‘Knight’ in the shining armor. We fail to look at the bigger picture, this whole setup is blinding us to believe something that shouldn’t exist in the first place.