Monday, August 15, 2016

Olympian regrets

Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity.

I know that there is this almost insane interest in gaining publicity at any cost. There is this intense fascination with getting something to go viral on social media that borders on obsession. What I had not realized is the lengths to which some people can go in pursuit of this obsession; the sheer callousness with which they can hurt and calumniate others for what they see as their place in the sun. So, yes, this tweet above was an education.

To be sure, there are apologists; people who see this as a bitter exposition of the truth of Indian Athletics. I cannot see this as being so, either. If it had been a statement on how India has failed to produce world-class athletes, it would have been a commentary on our own sporting infrastructure. Had it been a criticism of the ability - physical or mental or both - of our athletes, one could see it as a possible conclusion from their performances, bitterly though we may dispute those conclusions or offer the lack of sporting facilities as the reason.

But, no, it was a comment on their dedication to their sports - not merely of one or two but a sweeping character assassination of ALL the athletes in 'Team India'. With no reason for that conclusion - no stories of late-night partying the day before the competitions or athletes neglecting their practice routines or whatever - the statement almost borders on slander. To seek cheap publicity based on such a vicious statement, and one can see no other purpose served by such sweeping assertions,...suffice to say that I cannot think of leading a joyful life with a sewer for a mind.

Decency in public life is becoming a thing of the past and in no small part thanks to people like this who are more intent on coining a phrase than in checking for the legitimacy and veracity of what they say. Being controversial cannot be an end in itself; controversy always causes hurt and, when you cause hurt, it better be for a cause, else you are no more than a sadist. And when the cause is no more than publicity-seeking...

One thing people like this forget - no-one is a loser, who puts in his best efforts, no matter what the result of his efforts are. As a country, yes, India should be able to identify and hone sporting talent that can vie with the best in the world. The lack of a sporting culture and sporting infrastructure in the country does make India a loser in the arena of sports, because as a country we certainly are not putting in our best efforts.

At the individual level, each athlete who performs the best that he or she can, given the circumstances - and most, if not all, of them do - IS a winner and should be respected as such, even if his or her best  efforts on the day is not enough to win. THAT is something which would be clear to any self-respecting person.

A big part of what ails this country is precisely this. Someone, regardless of the odds against, attempts something. If he/she succeeds we are ALL too willing to take the success as our success and revel in it. If he/she fails though...it is not merely his/her fault but he/she is a duplicitous person out to cheat us of our tax money. When we have done scant little to support the success, we really have no right to revel in it; AND, when we not only do scant little but also revel in successes, then it is only right that WE accept the responsibility for the failures and do not foist it on them.

It is only when we recognize how little we ARE doing to foster success that we will develop a sporting culture in this country. As long as we rest content in blaming those who try for not succeeding, nothing can change...for the better. As for reveling in the successes - be it a Sania Mirza or a Sundar Picchai - time enough to be doing it when we AND they see the environment of this country as the prime reason FOR the success. People can succeed 'despite'; it is when they succeed 'because of' that the country has reason to feel a participant in the success.

But as long as the self-proclaimed 'opinion leaders' of this country will prefer to shoot the messenger for the message, there can be no hope. It is ironic that precisely those, who are letting the country down, are the ones who are most vociferous in complaining about others doing so.

But, then, THAT is the nature of humanity. People who love holding the mirror up to other people seldom have the honesty to look in it themselves!

22 comments:

  1. I was so shocked that this ignorance and insult came from a public figure, although she has recently stirred a lot of controversy on Twitter. But to sham the hardcode dedication of the athletes ridiculous. You are right, it is only when we compete at such magnanimous level do we realize how insufficient our infrastructure. There's no lack of determination, one look at Dipa Karmaker would prove that, but as a nation we fail at giving these athletes proper respect and support to strive for better result.
    Sorry this turned out to be a Blomment than comment.
    Brilliant write.

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    1. Thanks Rajlakshmi! I seldom write on current affairs and almost never rant against specific people/comments. THIS one, though...

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  2. I completely agree with your views.... if one were to comment to this person that you make-up effortful the night party is not up to the mark, or make a comment that your dress is too gaudi and does not fit you, you can take it for sure that there will be a article on this ridiculing that people who do not have the intellect to appreciate taste....the best is to ignore them as at the age of over sixty or above people get wise but here it is contrary...

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    1. Senile dementia could possibly be one explanation :)

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  3. What is left for me to say, but 'You said it!'

    Perfectly put.

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  4. I guess as usual you hit the nail on the head.

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  5. It poured from your heart Suresh. Yes, we may not have won medals yet in Rio, but to judge that the athletes haven't given their best is very unfortunate. Think it is time that this armchair criticism stops. The courage Dipa showed in executing the Prudunova speaks volumes. Instead of cribbing let us celebrate these small victories. Medal or no medal, Dipa won the hearts, and that's what counts... A Knock Out punch from the gentle humourist. Loved it.

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    1. Yes Sampat! This sort of loose talk and blaming may be fine for the tea-shop gossipers but I expected better of people who get listened to.

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  6. Yes, well put! I think people like her just care for the RTs and the likes, just vitality at any cost. Her tweet made my blood boil. So irresponsible!

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    1. Absolutely, Rachna! It was so infuriating that I felt forced to write this one.

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  7. She got what she wanted. Even negative publicity is publicity, after all.

    You have put it perfectly, as always... :-)

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    1. THAT she did! But to be the sort of person who can be happy about THIS sort of publicity...I'd rather be a pig :)

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  8. You know what Suresh , the social media need to be thought about as well. Earlier people could not make what they thought so, public at the click of a button. A lot of thought about repercussions went into what goes into a statement to the media. Now twitter is like whatever you feel, whenever you feel , immediately make it known to the globe. That is not very healthy. As for this particular statement, it is very insensitive and not at all fair to the athletes who are giving it their all and yes despite a lot of odds!

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    1. What I think of mouthing off on Social media has been said often, Jaish, and it is where I started this post too, if you see :) BUT, when it comes to an author - someone who should know her words and the meanings conveyed - and a prominent celebrity - which means that what she says has a wider impact and thus means that she ought to be more responsible, it is really infuriating.

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  9. Well said Suresh. Sweeping judgement, which castes slander on the entire team and not according an iota of respect to people, who have managed to do what they have done despite the "system", is totally a shame. We seem to revel in doing this more and more. The filth and negativity that was once confined to an individuals mind and could be imposed only on family and close friends, is now getting public access with FB and Twitter.

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  10. Perfectly put Sir! The obnoxious commenter probably didn't hear of this: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt!!

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    1. Well - She probably thinks that having removed all doubt long back she has nothing to lose :)

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