Friday, August 17, 2012

The things one should do to get noticed in this country!

I just found out the quickest ways to get famous in India. Land up in Bollywood with a scandalous story that splashes your face across every inch of the media, or steal Sachin Tendulkar’s thunder in a big Cricket Match, or best, go abroad, get re-packed and re-marketed back to the country.

Sadly, that is the harsh reality in India. And no, this isn’t a product of a cynical mind at the receiving end, but the product of the genuine concerns of a citizen. The most recent explosion of India’s nonchalance to its burgeoning talents came through during the London Olympics, when Mary Kom, the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics, competed in the flyweight category and won the bronze medal. The whole country celebrated and lauded Mary’s efforts. But what they ignored was the obscurity that shielded Mary and her talent until then. Whilst everyone from the government to the general public celebrated, no one paused a moment to see how much her achievement truly meant – she wasn’t supported in any way through institutionalized training, nor offered the adulation and praise, the money and the media coverage that her counterparts in the world of cricket are given. Emerging from the pile of ashes that obscurity offered her was an insurmountable feat that is doubly laudable.  

TAG Heuer's newest endorser: Mary Kom. When will India
support and respect her and many like her?
India’s abject distastefulness in treating its athletes is the worst exposition of the country’s attitude. Its ineptitude in backing an athlete is reflective not just of the deplorable plight of athletes in the country, but also a painful exposition of the mentality we harbour. Our strange affection for all things Western, our sense of ridiculous heresy when it comes to embracing our own and our sense of complacency embodied in the age-old dogmatic We are like this Only and is tiresome, now, and really needs changing.

Until some blonde American woman spoke in hushed tones of chakras and yoga, urban India still considered Yoga a cultural practice that didn’t warrant attention. Today, aesthetics have taken over the science of Yoga - it is all about speaking in a drawl suffused with hushed tones, wearing white and donning a pseudo-aura of calmness. Until a foreign hotel served Mulligatawny soup, the humble pepper-water (mulagu thanni, in tamil) was more or less Meh. Until Shah Rukh Khan donned the rugged look and screamed at 16 girls to strap up and bring their best in hockey, Mir Ranjan Negi was no one to the masses. And even after, the most respect he was shown was through a few interviews, one stupid reality show that forced him to dance, and then kaput. And now, Mary Kom and every other athlete that represented India, winning plaudits, have joined that bandwagon. 

Why are we so capable of spending by the lakh, for stupid political rallies, league cricket matches and pre-film promotions when we have so many hungry children to feed, so many unschooled minds to teach, so many athletes with stars in their eyes but no facilities to better themselves? And yet they do us proud, these athletes, winning with limited resources. What do we do in return? Applaud them, forget them, and retain the limited resources without shame.

When so much is being done to keep the country’s flag flying high, is it too much to ask for some respect in return?