Words fail. Mouth agape. ( In keeping with the shape of zero. The key to converting nothing to crores).
But the finger types on. We have become a nation of extremes.
Another nation twitches its eyebrow over one of our border states, and our PM puts off his trip there. The same nation goes into a frenzied tirade about a torch related to their forthcoming Olympics, and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs , sits back, eyebrows arched in importance , with eyes closed, as the Chinese Ambassador, in an unprecedented breach of protocol creates history , by being the first high level diplomat to tangle with a overly eager-to-please New Delhi Police.
The Indian Olympic Association, which specializes in sending more officials than athletes to the Games, year after year, decides to run a torch relay for itself, and the public be damned. Barricades, barbed wires, rod wielding, 18,000 police and 50 national security personnel (in a cordon around each runner) , guarding the route of 2.5 kilometres.
A chosen lot of 70 runners will do the torch relay, swearing eternal allegiance to Samsung, Lenovo, CocaCola, and maybe, just maybe, the Indian Olympic Association and Olympic Movement . From a torch relay run of 32 kilometers in 2004, watched and applauded by men, women and children, this will be like doing a sophisticated passing-the-parcel every 30-40 metres or so. With tens of thousands of securitymen dressed in track suits lining the path, applauding as ordered....(while another tens of thousands of securitymen, chase the Tibetan protesters, who are simply having a torch relay of their own, some distance away, in what I thought was a free and democratic country)
Who pays for this ? Well, don't ask. National Prestige is involved.
When the government has no funds to improve the abysmal living conditions for policemen, no funds to enhance the living conditions in our highest security overcrowded jails, no funds to buy ammunition for the Olympic shooters for practice, no funds for badminton shuttlecocks for the national team, and no funds to give airfare to a champion woman carom player representing the country abroad, we need to redefine National Prestige as National Shame.
Crores are allowed to flow through without any results or accountability. Meetings, flights, ostentatious displays, expenditures for individual offices , security for laughable relays. At one time, one hesitantly talked about lakhs. Today, everything is in crores; costs, rewards, people, fees, contracts..... Stupid me.
Is it a complete coincidence that the other travesty in Crores, IPL, otherwise called Itna Pakad Lo, is to begin the next day in Bangalore.
Every single cricketer "who counts" (as a player, not money), is injured or close to it, thanks to the factory type slogging playing schedule the BCCI sets up , in a cruel effort at shoring up the crores. Cricketers who made weedy comments, cricketers who spat into their hands and discussed their integrity, are now, thanks to the shining crores, talking about the sportsmen from various countries getting closer. Discussions of the Simian variety take a back seat, as the crores blind some.
While stock markets fall, inflation rises, industrial production falls, I wonder if this has to do with industrial houses dealing in cement,telecommunication, liquor, textile yarn, construction etc finding enough crores in their pockets, not only to pay crores to expert flingers and hitters of the red cherry, but also to import a bunch of dancers to teach us Indians how to enjoy a sport. (The BCCI filled its coffers till today, thanks to the Indian audience that braved badly designed , infrastructureless, unorthopaedically and unergonomically designed stadiums; as the just imported Washington Redskins cheerleaders would (never) say, "man, we don't need no dancers....").
As if this is not enough, everyone who acts in Hindi movies is now being paid, what else, crores, to depict improbable personalities in unreal situations, with dances in minimal clothes thrown in. In case you think that's a saving, the costumes actually cost a crore.
Do we have a lack of entertainment in this country ? We produce the largest number of movies, play cricket for maximum number of days a year resulting in the richest cricket association in the world, we have the largest number of impoverished sport associations in the country, we are probably the largest set of mobile phone users in the world. While we bask in the glory of 3 more IIT's and how it has become a brand across the world, we are probably the backbenchers, when childhood and women's literacy levels across the country are concerned.
What to do. There is a crunch.
In some places.
We are like that only.
In other places, money is today being flung around in a frenzy, as if it is going out of fashion. What this will do, is affect the psyche of those who still , well entrenched in the middle class , correlate efforts with rewards, in daily life , that is.
Not under lights, not under police protection, not on television, not on any kind of show.
Maybe these folks know something Richard Armour once said
That money talks
I'll not deny,
I heard it once:
It said, "Goodbye."
****P.S. Apr 18, 2008. Read Mini T20 at North Pole to know how some people are still immune t0 the epidemic of croritis. Way to go, Indian Navy !