I can see a helpless rage building up within the young and old alike, unable to face the mirror, which is reflecting an uncomfortable reality of our society and us.
When the IPL scandal surfaced, the first reaction was to blame the messenger and not those who may have indulged in wrongdoing. As the broader contours of the sordid story acquired deep creases, people, who had started believing in the idea of a new, vibrant, confident India, whose manifestation was this cash-rich cricket league, felt cheated but not despondent.
It was blamed on vesting too much power on one individual and a bunch of self-serving officials out to enhance their bank balances at the expense of the game. The failure was seen as that of a system without any checks and balances and not symptomatic of a larger malaise.
The IPL fraud pales into insignificance when compared to the widespread allegations of corruption that have bedeviled the Commonwealth Games.
Unlike the IPL, where a few individuals were easily identifiable because of whom we felt embarrassed, here almost everyone, be it an army of contractors, builders, petty officials, senior bureaucrats, ministers, politicians and who have you, stand condemned in the eyes of the public.
What is disturbing here for us Indians is that this endemic disease of ‘self above everything else’ is so pervasive that even national pride has become a saleable commodity.
Who is the identified enemy here? Whom do you blame for this? When almost everyone involved with the organization of the Games is involved in this loot, whom do you look up to for salvaging this most abused word, national pride.
I have seen young boys and girls clap in approval at the argument that a country, which is home to some of the poorest in the world, should not be wasting money on an extravaganza like this.
I have also seen them clap in approval at the counter-argument that the Games are important to showcase our culture and new economic status to the world. I don’t know whether our young are a confused lot or get carried away by fiery rhetoric, that they don’t know which side they are supposed to be?
Hard-boiled cynics like us have a predictable reaction, echoing what Mani Shankar Ayer said when he slammed the Games, by quoting from TS Eliot’s Waste Land: “I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs, perceived the scene and foretold the rest.”
It is a defeatist reaction, which the young and the dreamer would loathe to identify with. For them, the reality is yet to take final shape and they believe that they are the masters of their destiny and can shape the country’s future.
Where does sport fit in their scheme of things, in their larger idea of a nation and not Brand India? If the mirror on the wall shows an ugly face of this reality, then their anger, if not channeled in the right direction, could lead to mindless violence.
Or they will in despair, like most, join the mainstream and use national pride for whatever it is worth to make a comfortable living.