Monday, October 4, 2010

Common Wealth Games 2010 Opening and Babri Mosque Verdict!!

- Amrapali (Tara) Basumatary

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu right wing political party of India) had asked the Organizing Committee of the Common Wealth Games (CWG) Delhi 2010 to play secular music. While reading the news it felt like a different yet pleasing breakfast in the morning. The Hindu (Newspaper) front page, just two days before the Babri Masjid (Ayodhya) verdict (2010/09/28), flashed the news item “BJP against religious music at CWG”. And the first paragraph of that news item sounded so sane and I thought for a second "wow - thats news!”. It read – "The BJP has suggested that religion and religious practices be left to the “private domain of players” and that it would not be wise to depart from the secular tradition of the Commonwealth Games by using religious music during any function associated with it”. I wondered why it was left to the BJP to sound so radical, what is the ‘liberal Congress Party’ at during this Game of its life and death? Well, it was in reaction to reports about alleged featuring of Azaan (Muslim sounding) - like music in the CWG opening song. It was a deep concern against “religious music and symbols from different faiths [are to be] used during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games”.

However, in the next few lines the BJP did live up to its politics and did not deter from asserting its voice. Good enough. After all the CWG 2010 is about national pride and glory, exactly how the ruling party has been parading it. The role of the Opposition must be to produce checks and balances to the ruling party. That’s how ‘liberal’ democracies work. It will talk about what is appropriate and inappropriate. BJP went on to state that “slokas” (the Hindu Sanskrit hymns) were appropriate in the CWG opening ceremony as “Sanskrit ‘slokas' on universal human values and universal brotherhood could be used”. The statement is self-explanatory in the context of the religious politics of the BJP – yet let me summarise the truism inherent in this - the Islamic Azaan is religious and not universal and thereby it is inappropriate in a non-religious event like the CWG. Delhi could not be seen tarnishing the secular image of ‘Incredible India’. Incapacitated by its politics it could do no better. No criticisms regarding them. 

Look at secular India showcasing Indian culture of diversity - infested with hindu chants, hymns, art forms and what not hindu. As much for the Congress and the middle CLASS denizens of Delhi, the CWG 2010 was indeed a matter of national pride and glory even for the BJP. And this statement from the BJP on the eve of the much awaited Babri Masjid verdict, created a peculiar atmosphere in the city, especially with the media going berserk between the possibilities of riots as an aftermath of the High Court Verdict of the Babri Masjid, or its misnomer, the Ayodhya verdict and the test-show of ‘Incredible India’, namely the opening ceremony of the CWG. Between these two hot cakes of modern India’s history, contemporary India has reasserted and re-established itself as HINDU entity. The most bizarre verdict of this century has seen the High Court indulging in matters outside its purview and taking on itself the responsibility to practice a palimpsestic writing of history – making history out of a myth and turning history into a fantastic myth. Of course everyone noticed and hailed the ‘maturity’ of the BJP and the other hindu organizations (directly or in-directly) involved in the Babri Masjid case, in the manner in which they muted their celebration so as not to hurt the sentiments of the ‘losers’, in the manner in which they appealed to the Muslim ‘brothers’ to accept the verdict and participate in constructing the new temple in the no-longer site of dispute. The infant Ram was born there, they have marked the site, it seems all of the Hindu litigants and the judges were present during the birth of the perpetual minor ‘Lord Ram’. 

As a matured and well-meaning Opposition, the BJP wished the CWG a grand success and “hoped politics and religion would be kept out even as the country celebrated its diverse and ancient culture.” Just so. And perhaps our left parties were not even reading the newspapers. 

The CWG opening ceremony was indeed a success. Some are even saying it was much better than the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010, despite Rahman’s not-so-up-to-the-mark theme song, unlike Shakira’s Waka-Waka. The politics of BJP and its like was just the thing that the so-called secular Congress has showcased in the CWG opening ceremony. Its theme/title song might as well have been a modernized and stating-the-truism ‘sloka’ which could go like this-

Hinduism has triumphed today. 
Hinduism is synonymous for Indian culture and tradition
… its syncretism. 
Hindusim is secular and universal...

The ceremony looked good and rich, just like the decorated Delhi city with its cosmetic surgery. There was an ‘absolutist’ absence of the workers who have built every inch of the CWG stadiums. Do we need to wonder why they did not have free tickets to the event! Probably I am a fool to wonder!! It’s a truth which we all know and are living with it. The single successful event will possibly be changing the language of the ‘nation’ from criticism to bloated national pride. 

BEHIND THE GLITTER lies THE RUBBLE, the cancerous nature of capitalism. The tango of religion and capitalism did look glamorous - HOW syncretic indeed! Its the rarest of moments when one does slide into feeling nationalistic- first when the High Court adjudicated in favour of myths of the majority, and second when everyone is celebrating the glorious CWG opening ceremony – I feel embarrassed … I mean ashamed.
The author is an Assistant Professor in University of Delhi and is a member of New Socialist Initiative, however the views expressed in the above piece is not necessarily that of New Socialist Initiative.


Malay said...

It is indeed a dark day in hell when the Hindu Right begin to talk the language of constitutionalism and law. At least 1992 was plainly illegal. Now we don't even that comfort left. As Farah Naqvi put it in an NDTV interview, the liberal-sounding "don't rake up the past" argument only becomes feasible in an environment where the entire language of liberal politics has already begun to lean towards the Right.

And as for the CWG opening ceremony, did anybody notice how that train in the middle was supposed to showcase the Common Man, complete with bicycles, street vendors and actual brick-carrying labourers?! Either the visual designer was trying to be secretly ironic, or there's a larger irony lost on us all.

Vishnu said...


Vishnu said...

Get on with Life, is the CWG or "Babri Masjdi" going to bring any thing to life nothing right?
then why all this fuss?

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