Friday, October 22, 2010

CWG: Stories of Glitterati and Postmodern Fallacies

Reading Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book over the last weekend through my occasional travails (incidentally caused by my inability to come to conclusions!!) gave me a rather serious insight. The insight however happens to be as magical as can be by any stretch of imagination. Languishing painfully and restlessly in my sofa, as Kolkata began to enjoy one in the series of coming marathon loadshedding sessions, I realised that the Commonwealth Games (CWG) was indeed the best of postmodern fictions!
It has been argued over and over again, that the postmodern narrative takes the structure of a detective fiction/story...the motive being to demonstrate the inability to arrive at a conducive, and contributive narrative that solves the jigsaw.

Postmodernism’s desire to contest the “given” nature of truth(s) results in multiplicity of narratives with their peculiar ludic energy.

Simplistically speaking, postmodernism acknowledges and promotes multiplicity and contests realism which lays a claim of monopoly over truth.

Truths, like narratives, are therefore many. But this very nobility and liberality erodes the praxis of postmodernism.

However, coming back to a more concrete CWG (more famously known until recently for falling apart...much like a PoMo narrative!)....did this untimely and undue theorising help at all?
This narrative may betray a tendency to degenerate into a fantastical magical realism, but it needs to be resurrected, if only for the sake of the realism of the present article!
India has very recently concluded the 19th Commonwealth Games, handing over the CWG baton to her more ideally situated partner in Commonwealth. As India takes rest after the pyrrhic victory, readily accepting accolades much like a happy bride on her wedding day, and as Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer celebrates his belated unease over the bill of CWG, the people of this country must and will ponder on the ominousness of these recent events.
Momentarily let’s cut back to the point in Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer’s point. A farmer in Vidarbha will never realise the political economies of a Rs. 40 crore balloon, but he will for sure feel its consequences in an ever shrinking farm subsidy, ever absent healthcare sevices, and perhaps one day the nation will romanticise his suicide in sagas of projection in a 80 crore balloon in some other games.

As people (who are not incidentally well versed in the jargon of mmcft’s and GSMA, GSPA) readily deliberated and debated on the price of a kilo of helium, or for that matter what could be the chemical composition of the slippery liquid contained in the exquisitely crafted underbelly of a Rs. 9379 soap dispenser; I wondered the logic of paying a price of Rs. 1 crore to A.R.Rahman for his quite priceless theme song.
What did we gain from the costliest CWG ever? More importantly, what did we purposely want to gain from it...a permanent seat in the UNSC?

Some of my university friends in Delhi, haply placed in highly reputed English news channels, right now slogging through their makeup sessions...would love to believe so. They went live comparing Beijing and Delhi in a bizarre logic of political economy.

Nonetheless CWG gave us prestige, and some occasional back patting from one certain Mr. Fennell. Delhiites would justify and draw satisfaction from a cleaner, sexier Delhi sans the din of Bluelines...but not all. Ministry of Tourism and ITDC projected a seventy thousand plus foreign tourist arrivals; recent fact could only testify about 8000 foreigners arriving for the CWG. Understandably, a lot many people lost money believing in the premature hubris of faulty estimations. Nonetheless, the CGW has been a gift to the nation.

The dialogic of capitalism interprets a gift as an investment. By that measure CWG has been a failure of monumentous proportions.

Let us cut back to the realism of the present scenario. We cannot wish away the reality of CGW. It is, and has been an event, and we cannot undo the fact that it has happened...with all its successes and failures. Everyone outside the government, and a certain Ms Sheila Dixit within the government believe(s) that there has been gross mishandling of funds. Mr. Kalmadi has been rendered “bratya” (I feel at a loss to find an English equivalent!!) in the recent glitterati parties of UPA chairperson and Prime Minister. On a more serious note, (apparently) Enforcement Directorate (E.D.) registered a case against a few O.C. (for the uninitiated.....Organising Committee) officials for alleged foreign exchange violations under the FEMA.
Meantime, interesting facts have been unearthed. Real estate developer consortium EMAAR MGF (mother company EMAAR being a Dubai based MNC) was provided with a bailout package worth Rs. 700 crore during the recession to help complete the games village. One fails to comprehend the meticulous economic logic of bailing out foreign JV’s when the national economy is reeling with current account deficits.
But what really provoked my postmodern promenade in the midst of a bad blackout was the decisions of the govt. to allow the O.C. continue in office until further notice, and to allow the E.D. to continue its investigations. A history of incomplete investigations, cubbyhole politics and delayed verdicts testify how difficult it is to charge-sheet an incumbent. It is a negation of the savvy judicial term “suspension pending investigation”. The CWG saga is a postmodern narrative per se, a narrative that lost its way, or perhaps, a narrative that nobody wants to know or let know!

Play on!

P.S. My belated interest in Pamuk is most certainly not inspired by certain more illustrious individuals of West Bengal, and being non partisan (at least in public) I’m not clad in their luminous opacity!    
Rajarshi Mitra takes cursory interest in the genaral human condition. He generally means no harm, and when he is not busy taking potshots, he generally takes shots. Find the recent ones at


  1. Prof Mitra's lecture on "Post-Modernism" and Critical Theory has uplifted the scholarly level of this forum.

    We need more to satiate our appetite.

  2. Thanks. Will try to chip in as soon as possible.