With flannelled fools and muddied oafs

  • Renuka Narayanan
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  • Updated: Dec 29, 2012 23:04 IST

Kipling wrote these lines denouncing the British public’s priorities in 1902. They could apply to India in 2012: “Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals.

Given to strong delusion, wholly believing a lie, Ye saw that the land lay fenceless, and ye let the months go by…” Why did we let ourselves get distracted from Project India by bad religion, bad films and recently by some very bad cricket?

Because it’s not two-minute Top Ramen to clean up the centuries, so it was someone else’s dharma? But OCD-ing on spectator sports is surely for retirees who have earned the right to the rocking chair? I wish we’d watch less of cricket and other mind-destroying programmes that take away our energy and focus from Making India Happen. It made us inactive and sullen, like kids who surf too much.

But how can our life have dignity if our main buzz is to feed our face with post-WTO MNC snacks while we endlessly watch people throw, thwack and kick a ball or run around, run after, jump over and jump off everything that can be? Meanwhile the thieves are stealing our health, wealth and honour. It’s the new Opium War, abetted by the chomping blue billion. Anyone who protests is vilified as a jhola and admittedly, some jholas are impractical and/or self-righteous — like here? But at least they’re not watching cricket. They’re out there yelling and screaming to save Indians from becoming 19th century Chinese.

Why did we let the usual suspects hijack India when so many of us work so hard and pay our taxes, don’t do drugs, stay out of jail and feed the kauvva the first spoon of rice? Were we glued to our collective couch by braveheart Indian credos like “If you see a wicked person, go away”?  I grew up with that and feel ashamed that one part of me was too timid or tired to fight more, while the other kept saying sorry to Bapu. He overturned the old Indian credo of ‘avoid action, evade responsibility’ to make us citizens with a free flag. To sell our birthright again for a mess of MNC pottage while inactive on our collective couch was ‘not cricket’ on our part. The mindset change ignited now could progress by unsentimentally reviewing our family habits.

Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture


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