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Millennium Post

Behind the glamorous excesses of IPL

So it is here again: the fever of the Indian Premier League (IPL) that returns like a clockwork every year around the month of April to sweep the nation off its feet. Being in its sixth edition, IPL obviously tells us a story greater than that of international cricketers forgetting year-old rivalries and joining hands in order to earn insane amount of money, or that of skimpily clad cheer-leaders, essentially white-skinned, dancing around the field or the patriotic Indian cricket crowd suddenly going more global than national and cheering the sixer of one Chris Gayle, once an arch nemesis, even when he is not playing for the local franchise. The story IPL transpires is a story of success: the success that defines the world ruled by everyday hegemonies we encounter and learn to live with as rules that can neither be denied nor defied. So the IPL, no matter how outrageously defiant it appears on its outset, is the story of conformity.

A beginning

When globalisation hit India, principally Indian middle-class, around the middle of the nineties, it was impossible to conjecture that it would melt down to something as an epitome of excess as IPL. Certainly we learnt many a things, namely to live in a world designed and dictated by the media, to create a media of our own in the realm of social networking sites where all we do is to engulf and churn out the conformed views about sports-Bollywood-politics in a half-digested fashion, to imitate an apparent liberal outlook while remaining brutishly ignorant and bigoted inside and finally, to live in a constant flux of obsession where one day the entire nation gloats over the army’s great accomplishment of retrieving a child from a mud-pit to the next day when everyone was sitting glut in front of the cable TV network watching two Bollywood stars getting married. The obsession, essentially endowed us with the belief that we, the emerging and sumptuous middle class, are the nation.

And what is a better way to celebrate this emergence of the nation but via an obsession like IPL so grand and magnificent in glitters that everything else just fades away behind the blinding illumination.

What the  IPL taught us

Scene 1: The ever-so expressionless captain cool Mahinder Singh Dhoni bursts with celebration after taking his team to the play-off of the IPL and thanks the franchise for their support. Reminder: this is the same guy who hardly shows any celebratory gesture even after winning a World Cup for his country.

Scene 2: Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, playing for the same franchise, embrace each other after a fall of wicket. Reminder: the infamous monkey-gate took their rivalry to the level seldom seen in the history of the game.

Scene 3: Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir, captaining the opposing sides, going at each other with a belligerent demeanor. Reminder: Both of them Delhi boys, batted along with each other for innumerable hours.

These are the few glimpses of the great cricketing drama that unravels itself over a couple of months period in front of an eager nation that quickly learns the values such as patriotism, undying allegiance to one’s roots are the things of days bygone.

The new-India that is emerging is more cosmopolitan, more rootless, only offers loyalty where the big buck is. The story of a strong durable economy cannot be transpired better than with the picture of first-world born cricketers, coaches and supporting stuffs vying with each other to be closer to the Indian actor turned team owners. And the viewer is sated with the promise of a globally durable country that is coming to the helm of affairs.

When IPL hits the new stadiums of Raipur or Ranchi who do not even have local teams to represent themselves, we see the stadiums getting packed in no time with people paying enormous amount of money for the tickets and we are assured of the story of India emerging beyond the big cities and prosperity spilling over the small sleepy towns. The role of local government or the armed forces sent by the central government in Chattishgarh or Jharkhand upon its indigenous people is rendered from obscure to immaterial to even moral in a flash of Sehwag’s sixer.

And the conclusion

Perhaps it is all for the better, perhaps the unification of India into the realm of the global metropolis where the darker stories will fade into oblivion is not just eventuality but necessary. The IPL, in its sixth edition, is still just the tip of the iceberg.

With the eastern, the southern and Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridors, it will spread into the hinterlands of the nation, like a scourge of obsession that it is, as the promise, the belief and the inevitability that is the modern braver India, where the outsider in its design will be vanquished and forgotten like a ghost of the times past. IPA

The author is a physician and a researcher in the life sciences.
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