Cricket – Sachin Tendulkar and the Subaltern

I love the contradiction and irony of this.

Source: Times of India

We have the greatest batsman in the history of cricket on the one hand, making history yet again by becoming the highest run-getter in Test Cricket.

Juxtaposing that individual brilliance is the Sensex (Indian Stock Market) dipping below 10 K yesterday thanks to the US-led global financial meltdown.

Congratulations to the Master Blaster for succeeding where neo-liberal markets have failed; after all markets are not for ‘uniting’ peoples or nations, and building solidarity. However, employing the legend of Sachin Tendulkar is a win-win game for global capitalism even if the Sensex does not show it.

Such is the strength of the human spirit and national pride, that the Indian media called Sachin Tendulkar ‘King of the World’ and announced that 1 BILLION Indians are celebrating this proud moment. It was a moment of ‘national unity’ maybe even Pan-Indian unity, in the midst of a financial crisis that has bankrupted businesses, left thousands jobless and worried about their future. I can only speak for myself; sick, hungry and fasting all the way in the United States but up at 2am to see the historic moment.

I don’t know how the subaltern feels about Sachin Tendulkar and this historic moment. Tendulkar is the Mahatma Gandhi of Indian cricket — his story, his legend perpetuates the Indian space as a universal solvent or solution for caste divisions, religious differences and communalism. From an industrialized-nation standpoint, cricket is considered a ‘subaltern sport’ and mistakenly-so.

We can hardly call it subaltern in the world of corporate sponsorship and ownership. Cricket was part of the colonial seduction, the colonial paraphernalia of the British Raj and co-option by Indians was of the utmost importance to British empire. It was only through making Indians part of the game, making them consumers of yet another colonial product that an elitist sport, considerably a ‘gentleman’s game’ like cricket instead of kabaddi or gulli danda, became a national sport, a site for national glory.

As a legacy of British colonialism, cricket presents a strong critique of the term ‘post-colonialism.’ After all, how post-colonial can India be as a country if it has simply adapted a British sport and turned it into the national sport of India?
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It's Over. Top 10 Moments of the Beijing Olympics.

Highs and Lows of the Beijing Games

(Image Source – Times of India – Click to Enlarge)

The 2008 Beijing Olympics are over. The winner is China and mass consumption and among the losers are the actual rural and migrant workers of China, the ones doing the clean-up and well, us for watching the capitalist and nationalist spectacle.

I covered the high point of the event for me (here and here), some of the things I could not tolerate and some that left me with ambigious feelings. And shockingly, none of it involves women’s beach volleyball!

Times of India printed a TOP 10 Moments of the Olympics and Olympic Factfile that can be accessed in actual newsprint format here — Obviously I use Times of India as an unbiased source given how many in American media and blogosphere were whining about scores and medals. But feel free to give your own views.

Usain Bolt
USAIN BOLT breaks the 100 metres world record. Bolt already owned the record and in front of a packed Bird’s Nest stadium he ran 9.69 seconds. He thumped his chest in triumph over the last few
metres before his ‘marksman’ celebration which became one of the lasting images of the Games.

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Immigrants Coming Up Big at the Olympics and not just for the United States

This was published in the Toronto Sun, August 8.
Article: Open-door policy at work;
Immigrants have history of excelling for Canada at the Olympics

  • Lennox Lewis, who left England for Kitchener at age 12. A decade later, he stepped on to the podium in Seoul to accept gold. A nation cheered.
  • Mark McKoy, winner of the 110-metre hurdles in 1992, is from British Guyana.
  • Daniel Nestor, gold in tennis in 2000, was born in Serbia.
  • Triathlon champion Simon Whitfield holds dual Australian-Canadian citizenship.

There seems to be a global trend towards migration of athletes in international sports. And for the countries that are welcoming, the ‘open door’ has paid off big.

Since 1988, a gold medal has been hung around the neck of a Canadian 20 times at the Olympics — and 11 of those have been worn by athletes who did not start life as Canadians.

“There are two things going on here,” Donnelly said. “One is the global migration of athletes. You can get citizenship very quickly in … a lot of countries if you’re a top-notch athlete. The other thing is that this is a very fluid society built on immigration. More than half the people in Toronto were not born in Canada. Minority Canadians are now 12% of the population and going up. You’re picking up that (Canada) has the second-highest rate of immigration in the world after Australia … percentage wise.”

Beijing 2008 – Olympic Games and the Power to Unify Diasporas

I see the Olympics as the single-most unifying sports regular sports events. And today, I felt the unity across the globe, emitting from the rich and unique Indian disapora.

Headlines Today, NDTV and all Indian news channels are going wild with their broadcast of the Olympics and for good reason. Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra created history by clinching the first ever individual gold for India after winning the men’s 10m air rifle event at the Beijing Olympics.

COngratulations for Abhinav are pouring in from ALL over the world–anywhere with an Indian population. That I believe is the greatness of the Indian disapora. Having adjusted to culture and lifestyle of another country through decades, there is still a connection to the “motherland” — not a nationalist connection, but a cultural one.

I have never been to India. My parents have never been to India. We are Indo-Fijian in every sense with 5 generations of our family brought up outside of India. And yet, when Bindra won the gold medal, my heart leapt up in the air and I went downstairs yelling that “WE won our first individual gold medal.” Of course, they did not comprehend what I meant by WE (probably thinking Fiji) but the reaction was still of excitement and jubiliance when I revealed that India had won its first individual gold medal.

This does not make me any less American–at the end of the day I am still going to be a couch potato, plug in my IPOD, study for the LSAT and write really bad TV fan-fiction in my spare time. But it is a recognition of identities that go beyond the ‘national’ — and no one should be deriding that sort of complexity and diversity.

And how amazing were the Opening Ceremonies? I am glad that I did not need to watch the Opening Ceremony on NBC with the notoriously rude commentators making jibes in passing at countries during the parade (lets forget the amount of commercials that interupted the event). At the same time, the Indian commentators could stop picking on Sania Mirza for not wearing a traditional saree.

It was also disheartening to see South and North Korea marching separately.

Headlines Today (India) estimated that a 4billion record estimate watched the Opening Ceremonies.

If you did not catch it, you can see the opening and closing here (minus the 2 hour long parade) …

Lets not get too blind in the gold and glitter of the event. This celebration of unique talent and diversity does not mean we ignore other voices and concerns.

In New Delhi, nearly 3,000 Tibetans shouting anti-China slogans braved heavy rains to protest near India’s parliament against the Olympics being staged by China.

“China is not the right place to hold Olympics, it is a blood Olympics, it is a shame Olympics,” shouted Kalsang Tsering, a Tibetan protester.

At the same time, lets not make political conditions and rivalries into the topic of discussion. Following the logic applied by Tibetan protestors, the Olympics should not be held in any country since there is no country in the world that does not violate human rights.

Bring on the women’s beach volleyball…