Saturday, May 15, 2010
Clowns and Drumbeaters of IPL
Sunanda Pushkar should have known that mainstream media cannot sustain on the virtue of silence which she very closely guarded till it became unbearable. Silence can never transform into a sound bite. Is there any newspaper or news channel in the world which can boast of running a successful “story” on silence? Media cleverly follows the rules of sacrifice. It has to perform the ritual irrespective of the fact that there is no sacrificial lamb in the slaughter ring. Journalists shudder when they think of their “deadlines”. In journalism deadline is equivalent to death. Thus Sunanda Pushkar became the sacrificial goat of IPL. And her partner Shashi Tharoor sacrificial lamb or scapegoat!
Sunanda and Shashi make an odd couple in the sense that the former chose silence and latter preferred noise! As they say, opposite attracts!
When Sunanda refused to entertain media, she was turned into a vamp from woman. Rumour, gossip, derogatory slant replaced pure reporting. Sunanda was portrayed as morally loose woman with “insatiable ambition”. It’s not crime to be ambitious. One reputed English magazine said, “It’s a bit ambitious on her part to claim she’s a businesswoman in her own right when her present job profile says she is a mere sales manager at TECOM Investments”. From a “gawkish girl from small-town Jammu” to event manager of “C-class” fashion shows, the portrayal of her personal life in the media is highly questionable on principles of journalism. The media did a “medieval witch hunt” instead of doing investigative journalism.
The controversy started when Lalit Modi revealed the investment pattern of Kochi franchise on Twitter.com at 3:16 am on April 11. “25 per cent of Kochi team is given free to Rendezvous Sports for life. The same equity is non-dilutable in perpetuity. What does that mean”? Modi wrote on Twitter. He further wrote that he was told by Shashi Tharoor “not to get into who owns Rendezvous. Specially Sunanda Pushkar”.
Each one of us has political loyalty and Lalit Modi is no exception. He was keen to get a team from Ahmedabad because of his “proximity” to Narendra Modi. It is precisely for this reason he was delaying signing of contract with Kochi team. It was only after Shashi Tharoor sent his Officer on Special Duty Jacob Joseph in the middle of night, at 2.30 am that Modi signed the contract. Soon after that Lalit Modi went online and deliberately revealed the name of Sunanda Pushkar to embarrass Shashi Tharoor or more precisely Congress party.
It is no big deal that Shashi Tharoor tried to get a team from Kochi. It is also no big deal that Shashi Tharoor “promoted” Sunanda Pushkar because that’s how IPL has been functioning ever since it began. Lalit Modi’s friends and relatives are stakeholders in IPL but there has been no controversy over so-called “impropriety”. BCCI did nothing to tame this professional misconduct on the part of Lalit Modi. Congress government is guilty of connivance. The ownership of IPL teams is no secret but yet Central government sat quietly. Congress woke up from the deep slumber only when its minister Shashi Tharoor’s name figured in the controversy. Therefore, it would be safe to assume that everyone is guilty in this circus called IPL. As veteran journalist M. J. Akbar wrote, “Everyone knew what was going on, from Mauritius-funding to insider-betting to coke-and-company parties. Silence was purchased by the allotment of some direct or indirect slice of the expanding pie….from each according to ability, to each according to greed”.
The shelf life of news is very short. News, like humans, dies every day. Akbar aptly writes, “The most useful weapon in the politician’s armoury is public amnesia about yesterday’s news, replaced by fresh reports that emerge from the baking oven of information, accusation and speculation”.
Phone-tapping has already taken over IPL. The process of “public amnesia” has just begun. Media has always been effectively utilized to serve this purpose. Media should play the role of a watchdog and not an embedded drumbeater.
We all will forget that there are dozens of Lalit Modis, Sunanda Pushkars and Shashi Tharoors in the IPL circus. We have only identified three clowns although the truth is that this circus is full of clowns.
We need a magician to get rid of these clowns. And a watchdog to chase drumbeaters.
Sunday Inquilab, May 2, 2010