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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I love Lalit Modi!

He personifies so self-assuredly, so brazenly, so happily, everything that is true about the contemporary Indian wannabe high-profile success (shades of Harshad Mehta, Ramalinga Raju, and others too numerous to mention, including thousands who, more wisely in my poor opinion, stay out of the media glare…).

Here, in a thumbnail sketch, is his ideology:

1. Money buys everything, including fame and the power to dodge the clutches of the law, so nothing else is worth aiming for;

2. Use the money to live the high life of luxury yachts, private jets, fleets of limousines, armies of bodyguards, an endless supply of nubile and willing bimbos – and the ‘public’ (read mass media) will simultaneously envy you and admire you as they used to admire gods in the olden days;

3. Use whatever your native animal cunning is best at manipulating to make and squander money – be it sports, politics, crime, IT, real estate, movies, healthcare, education or the stock market: it makes no difference at all.

4. When in trouble, be even more brazen than before, and chances are 1000 to 1 that you’ll be able to ride it out. And even if you can’t, what harm can a few months in a five-star jail specially built for you do? A long holiday, all comforts paid for, while the public forgets why it was mad at you, and then you can happily go back to your shenanigans. After all, this is India: no big-time crook ever gets seriously punished!

And – except when their stars are bad – these are the sort of ‘great’ men who will make India proud as a great nation soon: about that our prime minister is still firmly convinced. baaki sab bakwaas…

(If the reader is interested, I recommend her/him to a series of essays I wrote through September and October 2009 on this blog, titled Poor little rich thug, Ministers flying cattle class, Counterculture and Counterculture: postscript. The search bar will help you. It might strike you that in India, a truly democratic country, literally anyone can be ‘successful’ these days, whether you are an ex-rickshawwallah or a friend of chief ministers, if only you are shameless enough, arrogant enough, violent enough and greedy enough. Absolutely no other talents required. The parents of all my students and ex-students should take note. Why waste time chasing the JEE? Your children will be serving masters like these anyway!)

P.S., May 05: Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri, sometime head of the department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, has this to say about the IPL mania and its social significance. Most readers are not going to like it!

11 comments:

Shameek said...

Dear SIR,
Firstly,thank you for writing this post.Your "thumbnail sketch" was perfect..there were no other points i could think of.And as you said, Mr.Modi appears even more confident after getting involved in this controversy...and is tweeting(another strategy of his!)that soon he would "reveal all" about the controversy.I also agree with what you said in the last part of your post...certainly "no other talents required"....

devdas said...

Dear Suvro-da,
ekdum Point Blank !
Yes, thats the mantra and was it not the same in 90's when we were kids studying in Xavier's? I just started a book on the last life of Isswar Chandra Vidyasagar and the sad episodes on how his own son squandered his property (which was quite a large amount in those days) after his demise. Money is the root cause of trouble and yet without money one has mere existence.
Men/Women in power have always found themselves face to face with greed of making some extra over decades and centuries. But how much money does one need to call him/her-self rich? Sure even Bob-D does not know.....
best regards,
debasish.

ginger candy said...

Sir,

Of all the colorful adjectives that you have adorned Lalit Modi with in your article, 'shameless' befits his character more than anything else. Interestingly, it is his brazen nature that has led to his monumental downfall. Long before the IPL, Modi was no stranger to power and politics. In fact, he was dubbed as the 'Super CM' during the Vasundhara Raje regime in Rajasthan- and he was a far wiser man then, keeping himself away from media attention as much as possible.When he became the IPL commissioner a few years ago, he decided to do away with the slightest tinge of decency and modesty. The floodgates to high life were widely opened, and even worse, his wealth was unabashedly flaunted in front of the public eye.

Of course, the aam junta drooled and salivated over his elevated social status, as they often do when they see skunks like Vijay Mallya taking his latest Porsche convertible for a spin.The media joined in, hailing him as a visionary who pioneered the most important invention of the century. All this probably went to his head pretty fast. Modi became more arrogant, pompously showing off his fleet of luxury cars and posing lustily with semi-clad models in fashion magazines.

Pride comes before a fall, they say. While Modi's clout and fame grew unbounded, mainstream politicians became increasingly frustrated at not being able to grab a piece of the IPL cheesecake. A war ensued between him and another decorated gasbag, Shashi Tharoor. The media rallied against him. Even the junta, who sang paeans in his support earlier, disowned Modi. I strongly suspect that the ill will he garnered has less to do with the reasons you cited in your 'counterculture' posts, and more to do with the general feeling of animosity and jealousy bred in the Indian middle-class mindset when they see a talentless moron scaling higher up in the social ladder than they can ever aspire to, even when done by sheer luck and a combination of few vices.

I am glad that Modi has got what he deserved. May sanity prevail; the mere thought of Indian teenagers idolizing him as a national icon makes me flinch in disgust.

Thanks,
Joydeep

Rajdeep said...

When I read the title of your post I thought you had gone mad!

You are very right in what you say and your criticism.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I was tickled to read in yesterday's newspaper that LM is high on Daud Ibrahim's hit-list! Who says only opposites attract? More power to D-company. Their hitmen can save the government a bit of embarrassment. Alas, one crook more or less will not make the slightest difference to this great country...

avishek said...

Dear sir,
I would like to tell you about an interaction I had with some of my friends in my college days: we were discussing about how life would change after college ends and how we all will move on with our lives in our own way. Majority of my friends said they would want to live the ‘high life’ – by which they meant earning as much money as possible within a short span of time. This unfortunately has become the definition of ‘success’ among the today’s youth of India. There is no other ideal which is important to them as much as earning huge amounts of money. Money has indeed become the strongest motivator of all things in life – many would say it always was but I would say it has recently overwhelmed all other incentives.

People’s perception about success tend to converge at one and only one point – money. Generally we call a person successful depending on how much money he has earned ( we tend to overlook the means ). Well what do parents mean when they tell their children – you have to be successful in life. Simply put, they want their child to earn vast amounts of money and at best become a CEO/Manager of a multinational company. Very few parents teach anything about moral values to their child. Obviously one cannot preach moral values unless one practices them itself in daily life and sadly majority of our elders do not practise what they preach. People fail to realize that success is a subjective thing – I mean a dhaba owner running a successful business/profitable business may consider himself to be successful. It does not matter whether people call you a success or not. It depends on whether an individual’s dream has been fulfilled or not. To me, success parameters can only be set by each and every individual in his own way – if he lives up to it, he is successful otherwise he is not. There can be no common or generally accepted definition of success. At the end of the day, if one is happy – it doesn’t matter whether one is successful or not.

If people increasingly run after ‘success’ instead of becoming human beings of value, such gross violations of corporate governance like in the case of IPL will only be more common in today’s ‘modern’ India.

Regards,
Avishek Mondal

Suvro Chatterjee said...

A whole generation in this country has been very badly brought up by greedy and mindless parents, Avishek - you have heard me saying that repeatedly in class. When most young people grew up without being allowed to cultivate any real talents or interests, it is no surprise that they cannot measure 'success' by any yardstick other than money. A great movie director, sculptor, mathematician or writer therefore has to be much less 'successful' in their eyes than a coal-thief or a cement dealer or barely-literate fashion model who makes much more money! For them, I have only pity and contempt: it is only the future of the country which is filling up with millions of such creatures (tomorrow's parents, teachers, judges, journalists and politicians) that I worry about!

Suvro Chatterjee said...

The newspapers today were full of Lalit Modi's 'defence' against the BCCI show-cause notice. It purportedly runs to 12,000 pages. Just who is ever going to read it? He has obviously paid a small chunk of his ill-gotten wealth to some hotshot lawyer to stifle all opposition and criticism with a mountainload of fancy-sounding, jargon-loaded rubbish, so that he can get away with all his monkey tricks simply because nobody in the country has the time, patience and energy to make a reasoned decision under these circumstances. Talk about papering things over! Sometimes I simply long for the kangaroo courts of so-called terrorist organisations which know the right way to dispose of cases like this...

Zaara Naseem said...

[I dare to write again!]

Dear Mr Chatterjee, just thought of sharing this one small bit of weak epiphany that struck me as I was reading this particular post on Modi. [I really liked the way you have engaged with the man,the thing,the phenomenon! Your choice of post labels seemed so apt!] However, coming to the point I wished to share, was suddenly reminded of Partha Chatterjee's landmark work "The Politics of the Governed" where he discuses globalization - how it appears to be a misnomer, why the great hoopla around it and that, according to parameters such as flow of capital, inter-national exchanges of money and labour, migration and communication, "globalization" was much higher on the scale in the late-19th century and till the Wars than in the late-20th! Well, reading your article made me see that this overwhelming-ness of the audio-visual media was one thing that the late-19th century did not have! And since this particular facet of life is so much responsible for shoring up phenomena from re-trial of the Jessica case to deifying capital-gods like Modi, we can surely not afford to overlook it. So if this were to be made a spinal parameter for understanding the phenomenon called globalization, the amazingly brilliant essay in Partha Chatterjee's book might have an extra footnote if not complete rewriting! Thank you for this.

[I realize once again I have deviated from the main-stream of the arguments, and ventured off to ruminate on globalization and Chatterjee's book, but I thought that is precisely what appealed to me - the fact that your article sparked off a simultaneity of parallel emotions/thoughts. On Modi your friends have shared their thoughts. I thus chose to slightly meander. One Chatterjee took me to another and thus thought of sharing it with the former!]

Good day to you...
Sincerely...Zaara.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Quite right, Ms. Naseem.

Globalization actually started when the first men ventured out of Africa just after the last Ice Age. It greatly accelerated once at the time of the European renaissance, and once more around the turn of the 19th century, with the spread of the radio, telephone, cinema and aeroplanes. Compared to that breathless pace, recent events haven't really been half as exciting/unsettling as the mass media would have us believe! It's only a complete lack of historical knowledge (very common today) that makes us blindly swallow all the hype... you might, if you haven't read it already, try Joseph Stiglitz' Globalization and its discontents. A lot of people have noticed that the Lalit Modi type of success has proliferated of late, and they are not really doing much good!

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Watching the character called Dominic Greene in the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, and with the Lalit Modi type at the back of my mind, it occurred to me that seeing people riding about in fancy cars ought to make all right-thinking men feel like puking these days ('there goes another skunk of a successful man')...