You’ve Got Tacloban? We’ve Got Tendulkar.

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This is a very short blog.

Some people might be very angry that I’m writing this.

Some people might be very angry that I’m writing this way.

I don’t care.

I believe this is precisely the time I must speak my mind.

About Tacloban and Tendulkar.

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1. Tacloban. — An entire city was basically wiped out, and the mayor has asked the surviving residents to flee. He said he could not guarantee lives there anymore.

I have pure sorrow and sympathy in my heart about the 10,000+ people that lost their lives in the catastrophic typhoon in the Philippines. God knows how many more people lost their limbs, livelihoods and dreams. In that Far East archipelago ravaged by super storm Haiyan, this is now their biggest news. It has been one of the big news in the U.S. media as well. 

(Corporations didn’t kill these 10,000 people directly. Therefore, U.S. media don’t have a big problem to report it, unlike the Union Carbide disaster or Monsanto farmers suicides or Chevron oil rig explosion in Nigeria or April 24 disaster in Bangladesh.)

2. Tendulkar. — I also have a lot of respect for the cricketer Tendulkar of India. Sachin Tendulkar is retiring from cricket and it is now the biggest news in India. Of course, India has also seen numerous, catastrophic cyclones, floods, earthquakes and other environmental tragedies in recent years — tragedies that killed hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. Villages were wiped out. 

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But cricket, one of the biggest industries that is also allegedly run by gamblers, underworld mafias and their sponsor politicians, did not stop in India. Cricket never stops there, just like Tendulkar never stopped making his runs. When India goes through massive street violence on its women on a daily basis, cricket never stops. When India sees its poor begging on Bombay streets, cricket never stops. When India sees destitute mothers making their children perform dangerous acrobatic acts on Calcutta streets, cricket never stops. When Indian cricket industry gets massive bribery scandals implicating some of the country’s biggest politicians, cricket never stops.

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I promised this would be a very short blog. I’ve already written enough.

India and the Philippines are both Third World countries, and its millions of poor are struggling only to have bare minimum to survive. But its rich — the extreme rich — do not even pretend that they care anything outside of their own lavish ways of living. 

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I remember the U.S.-supported Philippino president Marcos whose wife Imelda was famous for her royal lifestyle. “She is often remembered for symbols of the extravagance of her husband’s political reign, including [her jewelry or] collection of 2,700 pairs of shoes. In 2011, Imelda Marcos has declared her net worth to be 932.8 million pesos (US $22 million).”

I’m sure there are more such Imelda’s now in the Philippines, and they do not live in Tacloban. I’m sure they do not have to flee.

Sachin Tendulkar and India’s rich cricketers also make millions of dollars. This is a country where…well, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve never seen these cricket celebrities doing anything worthwhile to change the poverty and destitution in India. Even though unlike some other cricket players, Tendulkar is a modest guy, I’ve never seen him challenging the status quo of India and its pathetic poverty. In fact, I’ve always seen him siding with the status quo, including the corrupt politicians, media and corporations.

They have served him well. Why would he rock the boat?

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Even a Tacloban does not change anything — either in the Philippines, or in India.

Tendulkars live on — happily.

This is not an angry note, my friends.

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Post Script. — According to IBN News, Sachin Tendulkar “is the country’s wealthiest cricket player with a personal fortune of USD 160 million, according to a Wealth-X estimate.” (Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/cricketnext/sachin-tendulkar-is-indias-richest-cricketer-wealthx/432399-78.html).

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8 thoughts on “You’ve Got Tacloban? We’ve Got Tendulkar.

  1. Partha
    Your concern and agony about Talcoban is very well appreciated. But to single out Sachin and the sentiment involving his retirement to express your anguish of inadequate support for those who suffered the typhoon is not really understood.
    If your point was that everything should have stopped and focused towards the affected people at Talcoban, that is not a reasonable expectation I guess. I don’t know of any country where any sports / entertainment prescheduled program was cancelled to express solidarity with those suffering undescibeable plights at Talcoban. Then why cricket in India and why Sachin in particular?
    At the personal level whatever money Sachin has earned has been through his hard work and it is not fair to complain about that. There are all kinds of people all across the globe who amass their fortune through dubious and corrupt means. Whether someone shares the earned fortune with others or not is a matter of personal choice and in this case we are not aware of any such activity of Sachin as a person. But you will appreciate that our ignorance does not mean that Sachin is not doing anything on this account.
    I completely agree with you that the proportion of disaster at Talcoban is so huge that everyone from every corner of the globe should put in efforts to help them. The large countries particularly should send in help. And in that effort if the country uses persons like Sachin to involve common people to contribute that will be a good use of this legend.

    1. Thanks for writing. It’s not about Tacloban. I used it as a symbol of suffering for the poor across the world. I then used Tendulkar as a symbol for the 1 percent, or 1 percent of the 1 percent.

      1. Partha
        I understood the points that you have made in your reply while reading your blog for the first time itself. But my point was that while we must do everything possible wherever such tragedies happen, it may not be necessary to do such humane acts at the cost of other activities of life. And I believe that celebration is an important part of our life.

      2. Thanks for writing again, and thanks for reading my article seriously. Such a celebration in India for an extreme rich celebrity is purposefully detached from reality in India. That is the distraction played up by the people in power and their media. These celebrities took advantage of a pro-elite economic system. During the years these cricketers made their hundreds of millions of dollars, India lost those millions and more that could have been used to build the country from the ground up. The political powers did not care to do it. Media brainwashed the people, and kept them in dark about the amount of money and how it was made.

  2. Great post, Partha. Unfortunately, it went right above the first commenter’s head, and I assume many others who’ve read it.

    I often find myself in arguments over who is to blame for these celebrity distractions propagated by the media, which enforce materialistic, unrealistic values and extract us from reality and human suffering. Since corporate media, across the globe, is owned by just a handful of giant conglomerates, which own other companies that rely on consumer spending, I maintain that we are fed these distractions in order to keep people complacent and desirous of consumption.

    A former colleague of mine, however, would argue that the people determine what the media covers and that this is apparent in things like ticket sales of professional sports games and the types of celebrity gossip rags that women unabashedly study on airplanes every day.

    I suppose it depends on where you see the role of the media today. In my eyes, it is the most powerful entity we have to go up to bat against. If we can just arm people with the proper tools by teaching them to be suspicious of media and to understand media’s bottom line, we may actually get somewhere.

    1. Absolutely. Thank you for these valuable comments. Since graduating from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, I’ve been talking about the anti-people, for-profit-only role of corporate media. I keep in touch with Professor Noam Chomsky whom New York Times, CNN and Washington Post have excluded from their list of experts, even though he is one of the most important intellectuals of our time. He calls media consent-manufacturers. I call it Journalism of Exclusion. Either way, they are brainwashing and cheating people like us in the name of free press. Sports and celebrities are useful distractions they use to divert peoples’ attention from real, serious issues.

      1. While I cannot completely disagree about the point mentioned in your last comment, unfortunately I cannot completely agree either. I do not belong to media or the world of journalism. But I am a regular consumer of media particularly press, television and some bit of social media. I find many occasions where both print and television has played very constructive role in promoting public awareness and consolidating public opinion. Some of the media’s role in unearthing deep rooted corruption have been very commendable (be it in India – like Commonwealth games or internationally – like USA’s spying on a large number of social media users). The role of media – specially television- in the recent disaster in Orissa is another example that comes to mind.
        I am not very sure why you feel that media is using Sports and Celebrities to move public attention from real, serious issues. Be it press or television or social media, there are time and space devoted to various serious, real issues as also for entertainment. The extent of such allocation can always be debated.
        I also do not subscribe to the thought that media is brainwashing and cheating people. You and I as individuals have choices. We can certainly disengage from for-profit-only type of media and engage into those that we think discusses and involves with real and serious issues according to us (surely here again there would be many difference in opinion).
        Finally, even at the cost of some of your contributors seriously doubting my intelligence, I do not see anything wrong in media trying to earn profit. Because if they have to play any role in contributing to addressing real and serious issues, it is going to cost lot of investment that will come from profit only. Surely whether any particular media organisation is engaging in such activities or not is a matter of study.

      2. Thanks for writing. This is a matter, indeed, worth of study. Point is, media’s power is so great today with new money and politics coming in from the U.S. and Europe that the debate to have a debate itself is being destroyed. That is the problem. Few understand how media manufactures news: what becomes first page news or headline TV news, and what gets excluded or underreported. Sachin Tendulkar’s top civilian award Bharat Ratna is an example. It is pure politics. There are many other worthy candidates in India who gave their lives to champion the causes of the poor and oppressed. Sachin was picked because he symbolized the pro-1-percent, status-quo political powers. Reminds me of how Rajiv Gandhi was awarded Bharat Ratna. What a travesty!

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