What’s up with all this kirkit business? Everyone seems to have lost their mind.
The way everybody and their father’s newspaper is weeping and wailing, you’d think they thought the IPL stood for the Indian Prayer League and it was a charitable institution built to eradicate India’s poverty problem by harnessing the power of cricket. How can you have sat through three years of the cheese-laden spectacle of the IPL and not known there was massive amounts of money at play? And that eventually it was going to go down in flames of Biblical proportions? I have a rule: the moment an entity’s success becomes evident enough for the mainstream media to take note, scandal must be right around the corner. Like night follows day.
And really, what exactly is the scandal here? That a cabinet minister has a social-climbing girlfriend and the new czar of mega-bucks cricket is a crookish brat? Good Golly, Miss Molly, say I, clutching my pearls.
Let’s talk Shashi Tharoor for a second: a man less suited to be a politician in India, especially of the Congress kind, I’ve seldom seen. I’m too young to remember when Amitabh Bachchan flamed out of Parliament, but I suspect even he was a more competent Congressman than Tharoor, who’s apparently never heard the Congress motto – “Lie low and prosper long.”
So you’re smart, funny and like the ladies? Throw discreet little dinner parties and show off in front of your friends. Word will eventually trickle down to the hoi polloi that you’re awesome and they’ll never know it’s because you and your girlfriend do an amazingly caliente mambo when the booze is at full flow. Does that suck? Is it a terrible system designed to hide the real face of our beloved leaders from the public? Not to mention their twinkle toes and mad moves? You betcha. But if you want to be a cabinet minister, then them’s the breaks.
Remember how you and your friends at the UN used to bitch about the member countries being such pains-in-the-ass? Well, guess what? Now you’re part and parcel of the circus that runs the memberiest of those member countries. I bet it sounded like a sweet career move on paper, but you just signed on to a pit of vipers.
And then there’s Lalit Modi. Is he a crook? Probably. I can’t think of even a handful of business people anywhere in the world who got to be successes at Modi’s level without getting their hands dirty at some point. And that saintly handful who float above the rest probably hire people who’ll roll in the dirt on their behalf for the right amount.
The problem with Modi is either hubris or idiocy. Did he really think he wouldn’t get audited at some point? With the kind of cash he was presiding over? Or that he could pick a fight with a cabinet minister and not get raided? If I’d been him, I’d have kept my nose cleaner than surgical tools just in case. My accounts would have been a thing of beauty, worthy of preservation in the Museum of Chartered Accountancy. What’s that you say? There’s no such thing? Well, they’d have built one to house my records once they got a look at them.
[Digression: why is that, do you think, that crooks don't think of a CA as their primary investment? I'm assuming the motive to be a crook would be A) Money, which leads to B) Power, which leads to even more money. The kind of vicious cycle every crookster dreams of. But it's the dough that brings you down, fool. I'd think a fantastic CA is worth even more than an amazing enforcer because you need the former to safeguard the moolah to pay off your gang of bad guys. Sigh. Crime would have totally been my game if only it wasn't such a lot of hard work. I've never understood why they call it Easy Street. As if.]
But apart from possible financial improprieties, the whole notion of which are a joke given nobody really knows what the hell is going on in BCCI proper (let me guess, politicians are keen on cricket because they’re great sportspeople as the stellar state of our national sport, hockey, proves), what exactly is the song and dance about? Some serious looking people say this is all very sad because it brings “the game’s name into disrepute”. If match-fixing and lame-ass cheerleaders shaking their ass to Bollywood numbers didn’t do it, sweetheart, I don’t think you have anything to worry. And yet, everybody from the paati cheering Dhoni to the munna egging on Sachin is having hysterics – but why?
Going by the similar Modi bios in sources as diverse as Outlook and The Mumbai Mirror, which also arrive at pretty much the same conclusion, it appears Modi’s greatest crime is that he’s a rich brat who got even richer and didn’t even have the grace to be humble about it. Well, that’s never happened before. Cry me a river.
Perhaps more than any other country, India is quite well-acquainted with the Girl Scout model of business. You know what I mean: when the scouts have (delicious) cookies to sell, the first stop is always friends and family and then the neighborhood. Obviously, there is a difference between the Girl Scout economy and the IPL one. A vast one. But the point is, in a country where family-owned business are still the norm, where politics is a dynastic exercise, it is beyond hypocritical to act as though Modi invented the whole sell to your family system. The richest .01% of India who own every stone on every pavement from Leh to Kanyakumari are an incredibly incestuous lot.
Read the various Modi bios, and you’d come away thinking he was the only rich brat to enter the hallowed halls of cricket in India. Hooey. Take a look at the BCCI: it’s where industrialists go to practice their power moves. From AC Muthiah (currently suing Modi’s reported bete noir and his own arch rival N. Srinivasan of India Cements for his allegedly unethical ownership of Chennai Super Kings. His cousin and Home Minister P. Chidambaram has reportedly been tasked with untangling the IPL mess) to Jagmohan Dalmiya to Sharad Pawar, each of them is “connected” up the wazoo.
Consider, for instance, Modi’s interim replacement: Chiriyu Amin. From their super-rich industrialist fathers to their privileged upbringing, there’s little to choose between the two. The only son of Ramanbhai Amin of Alembic pharmaceuticals is not exactly an inoffensive wonk who plodded his way up the ladder.
The only real difference between them is that Modi, younger and infinitely more flamboyant, is the perfect product of the brash 80s, combining cocaine, assault, an Ivy League education, and general uselessness with elan and doing it right in the open. Meanwhile Amin is the kid from the 60s who sneaks off to deserted balconies of posh hotels in the middle of parties to discreetly down tumblers of Scotch and mutton kebabs so that his vegetarian teetotaller parents don’t catch him.
This is why Modi is an enfant terrible, while Amin is a gentleman. India might make noises about young blood and change and blah blah, but there is a System and you’d have to pry it out of the cold dead hands of aged uncle-jis before they let you mess with it. And then beware the wrath of their minions, racing to take up where their mentors left off.
The funny thing about this whole brouhaha is that Modi and Tharoor are really two sides of the same coin (here’re their statements after getting kicked in the nuts: Tharoor, Modi. Boil it down and what do you see? They’re just two misunderstood patriots, y’all!). Both of them were brought down by their hubris; their conviction that they were unique enough and valuable enough that they could skate on consequences. That’s the problem with both: the Golden Kid and the Kid with Gold. Neither of them has any real understanding of their place.
The plus factor, of course, is that nothing bad ever happens to them. Tharoor will be back and he’ll have learned enough to mind his girlfriends. Modi will be back too and he’ll have learned enough to mind his tweets.
Meanwhile, there is this whole country full of pressing problems and all sorts of crookery emanating from the highest levels of government and nobody cares because the biggest problem facing India today is apparently Lalit Modi’s outrageous spa habit.
Cricketainment. Needs a fucking rest.