Friday, May 17, 2013

The Banality of Sreesanth



The Hindu editorial [May 17, 2013] invokes Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, ‘the banality of evil,’ in order to underscore the corruption that has infiltrated Indian cricket, particularly the IPL. 

In simple words what Arendt meant by the phrase was that monstrous evils are not usually perpetrated by fanatics or psychopaths but by ordinary people who fail to think deeply or seriously enough.

Failure to think seriously enough is a very common trait of our contemporary civilisation.  Ours is a civilisation which has nearly killed philosophy and serious literature.  It is a civilisation built up on the single premise of materialism and propagated assiduously by the United States of America using institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.  It is a civilisation which encourages consumerism and superficial pleasures of life.  It is a civilisation whose singular password is commerce.

Trade greases the wheels of our civilisation.  And everything is a commodity which can be bought or sold.  Everything has a price.  Sreesanth’s price was Rs 4 million this time.  With that money Sreesanth was making himself more empowered in the world of purchases.

The more things you can buy and the more things you show off, the greater your worth in the society.  If there is nothing more to be bought because you have more than what you need of everything, then you can think of changing the colours of your hair or laptop or your car every day.  You can think of even changing your bed mate every day. 

You are encouraged to be a butterfly going from flower to flower savouring different flavours of honey.  Nothing matters other than the savours and their enjoyment. 

Even people become mere objects of sensual enjoyment. Sensualism has become the new religion. Its heights and depths have no bounds.  Even the father-daughter relationship is transubstantiated on the altar of the consumerist temple.  

Sreesanth is one such butterfly savouring the honey in ways which were taboo in earlier civilisations, but not in the contemporary one.  Wealth creation is a professed objective of the honey-sucking civilisation.  The only objective, in fact. How you create it is not the question, but how much you create is the only thing that matters.  And there are too many role model butterflies, the variegated sheen of whose wings is a mere veneer that conceals much filth.

That variegated sheen is the real banality of evil.  It is that sheen which lured Sreesanth too.  Of course, the cricketer’s evil remains unmitigated the social reality that engendered it notwithstanding. 



35 comments:

  1. Its gr8 to read the connections you make sir,between day to day evil of society to pshycology of human.

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    1. Mine is a humble attempt to understand man and his world. Thanks.

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  2. When I read this I recall ... it is so true .. the way you define what we are as of today .. commerce.. everything is trade,by trade and for trade...
    What sells is happening !!
    I am not one of those who can blame Shreeshanth for whatever he got involved in. Till the time you make money under the banner of BCCI its legal ... being bought for huge amounts to entertain people is anyways too lot but thats India..this is how it will go on.
    Mint money but follow norms ...
    Frankly speaking, what we do is all for commercial viability ...
    Talking about the blogosphere I am sure even you would agree, no matter what the niches is, the popular bloggers do what would bring them traffic rather than what will give them mental satisfaction !!
    For me , blaming few players for crossing lines does not help , as you rightly mentioned, the entire society here is promoting praise of money . BCCI is the biggest gambler and these players are just pawns who wanted to trade beyond their master's wish !

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    1. First of all, Jack, I have to tell you that I don't know why your comment went into the spam space. I was astonished by your mail. So I immediately went to the spam box where I found your comment. No idea why this happened.

      "Mint money but follow the norms..." as you say. That has become the rule. Cricket in India is mere gambling today. I remember how the mother of a student of mine reprimanded her son for choosing to love hockey instead of cricket. She said, "Bewkoof! Learn a game like cricket if at all you want to be a sportsman. There's nothing in hockey."

      I'm sure you understand what I mean.

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  3. Its gr8 to read the connections you make sir,between day to day evil of society to pshycology of human.

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  4. Somehow I believe these things will continue until we mature. Once we stop giving importance to how others perceive us, once we stop caring about others opinion, we stand a chance of doing away with this issue. Mind you, I don't call corruption an evil. There's no black-and-white principle about it. Corruption too depends on the situation. There can be lot of facets of that too.

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    1. The question is when we are going to mature? How many centuries, millenniums?

      There is something black-and-white about evil, provided we understand that evil is a refusal to understand ourselves and be ourselves... You said it when you spoke about giving important to others' perceptions of us, etc.

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  5. My number one argument or reason behind all my articles centered around international relations or even the advent of corruption is one simple thing- to a common man today the sinusoidal curve of the sensex gives greater pain than his everyday business of living a human life.

    Sreesanth is what we all are fortunately for us nobody is tracking to creating a sting operation on our life. Its not just money shattering of ethics is highly deep rooted in our social sense. Hence the stature of women in recent timesm

    As for your article in a very long time (except for a couple of close frnds) I have found someone who highly resonates my thinking :)

    An absolute lovely read with not thought provoking but heart deepening elements :)

    www.subzeroricha.blogspot.in

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    1. Have done a couple of typos don't judge me on my grammar I blog through phone during the day ( woes of corporate slave)

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    2. I could see from your various comments that there's much in common between us. Never mind the typos :)

      Yes, there could be a potential Sreesanth in all of us or at least most of us!

      True also that the sensex or something similar to that (economic concerns) has taken away our hearts.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. People enjoy 6's and 4's so much. But when they realize it was all deliberate, they feel being cheated. Similarly people really enjoy Bollywood thrillers, but later when they realize that it was merely a copycat (well, they say it's inspired by some Hollywood thriller), again people feel being cheated. Rakhi Sawant did one show where she chosen her soal mate in a swambar, but later when she didn't get married to that guy, people felt being cheated. Why the hell we should bother whether she got married to that guy or not? :)

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    1. Jahid, it does matter whether Rakhi got married to the person she chose on the show. And you've said the reason too: people feel cheated. How long will the celebrities go on cheating people? And for what? Sreesant had a whole lifetime ahead to make as much wealth as he wanted, if wealth was what he wanted. The problem is that our celebrities are too human, too limited... That matters, Jahid.

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  8. Well written, at least at the level I could understand ... but, I think you romanticize the past too much. What exactly is the difference between Saguni of Mahabharata (made the crooked dice to be rolled) and the bookies of IPL (created the crooked odds)? Both of them got caught. Just leave it at that.

    Gambling is in the genes of human beings and people in the past failed to go beyond and so have the people of current times. There was commerce in the past and where commerce was, corruption was not far behind!

    I undertand corruption beyond money transcations. Many things we consdier eveils are vestigial corruptions of the past. There have been banal evils in the past too.

    RE

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    1. Raghuram,

      first of all thanks for saying that this is well written. you hardly say it :)

      Secondly, I'm 53 years old. I saw a past in my own lifetime in which people were given shelter on the veranda of my home because they couldn't get the last bus or for some such reason. Such people slept the night, were given a cup of coffee in the morning, and they left with a good feeling in their hearts and in ours too. Nobody in my hometown would do any such thing today. Any stranger is seen as a potential thief or murderer or rapist... The time has changed.

      Saguni was a symbol of the mighty evil. Today's politicians. Or even today's common man. But the common man was different in the past, even my own real past. I'm not romanticising; I'm trying to make sense of the change I'm witnessing.

      I too understand corruption beyond commerce and politics. A student of mine gave me a foolproof letter before he left the school for his annual vacation. It begins thus: Dear [blank line] Genius [blank line] Sir... The student was trying to apologise for a mistake of his that I had reprimanded seriously. But he couldn't really apologiese; he was trying to accuse me of pretending to geniusness! That's the kind of corruption pf childhood I'm very familiar with.

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    2. "foolscap" not "foolproof" - how silly of me!

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  9. Very well written. As many cartoons have said, he can now become a politician like Hazaaruddin. Greed has been there forever and there is no way to eliminate it - contain, yes.

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    1. And he may become a successful politician! He tried a number of business enterprises in South India along with a few other cricketers all of which failed because of his temper and temperament. He is more suited for politics. And administration :)

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  10. Very well written Sir. Instant gratification, chasing superficial excitement is the bane of our generation. But thanks to our parents , some of us still keep our moral fragments together. On a lighter note, I feel the increasing real estate prices in Kochi led to Sreesanth's need for side income. His temperamental nature had landed him in trouble before and the saga continues.

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    1. You have got it right: the real estate prices, Sreesanth's failures in all the business enterprises he ventured into and his temper as well as temperament - these things made him corrupt. I was just trying to probe the society that creates such people. Even Sreesanth's parents will have to share the blame which they are doing in the best way possible by defending their son! And the game will go on. Money will again decide who wins.

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  11. All for money . . . one way or the other. When you have it, you're not happy with the frequency it's coming. I'm sure that this is only the tip of the ice-berg. I've lost any interest in watching IPL after this incident. Mr. Sreesanth has brought disrepute to the country and to the sport. I hope that they'll develop a water-tight case against him. I wonder if ticket holders of the match he indulged in the spot-fixing can form a group and file a case against him. To make things more harsh, Rajasthan Royals and BCCI should also file cases against these players for breach of trust.

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    1. Sreesanth and his accomplices should be punished severely. But this sort of corruption will never end! Unless we bring about a radical transformation in the human psyche. Or at least in the social systems.

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  12. Only thing that matters is money this days. People are even ready to sell themselves. We can even do anything for money. You wrote a very powerful post.

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  13. That's a great realization of the power of money that can bring them too...and it reminded me of a phrase i read many years back...with power(money) you don't rise but you fall upon your desires...!!!

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    1. Wealth, like power, has the potential to corrupt people. It's up to each individual how s/he uses the wealth.

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  14. Matheikal, I can only hope you would read this response to your comment, as you do not, not just with me but with most readers you respond to your posts, appear interested in carrying on an extended conversation.

    First, my appreciation of your writing had a qualifier - to the extent I understood it. I do not say this often because I do not feel competent enough to say it. TRUTH.

    Second, My family and I had been the recipients of such munificence as you had mentioned, in Thiruvaiyaru in the mid 1960s; OK, we did not sleep in their front yard, but the people were truly hospitable for about 4 to 5 hours, giving us shade and refreshments in the hot afternoon. But now none will think of doing that (there is no need either, as we do have public resting places). But, more importantly "trust" in the social sphere has been lost. This is not corruption, in any sense of the word, as I reckon. This is merely social "progress", if you get my drift.

    Third, my choice of Shaguni was advised. The players of IPL are royalty, the lowliest commanding Rs. 10 Lakhs for 2 months of work. Figure out how many people earn that sum in one year. You may then understand why I chose Saguni to hang my argument on.

    RE

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    1. I do read all comments, Raghuram. I may not carry the discussion forward much due mostly to lack of time and partly to lack of interest. By mentioning the example of the change from the 60s to today, I was attempting to show the corruption of the human spirit. Goodness is on the wane. Evil on the rise. Concrete forms of corruption are just manifestations of that change in human nature...

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  15. I quite agree with what Sreesanth has done but dont agree that he is totally to fault. When u are nearing retirement and there is money to be made any idiot would do it. Even Sage Vishwamitra couldnt resist the temptation of Menaka even though he was a great sage.

    I have also written a article giving my point of view Tomichan, quite opposite views actually. http://www.comboupdates.com/2013/05/ipl-indian-premier-league-betting-easy.html
    hope the Government wakes up to this unholy nexus

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    1. There is an ethics in every profession. Sreesanth has broken that ethics totally if he indeed indulged in match fixing of any sort. It is a serious fault, as far as I'm concerned.

      MOrality is relative, I agree. But there are certain things even in morality that are absolute.

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  16. I am not surprised at the happenings, but yours is a nice and different way of looking at it. Great read.

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    1. Indrani, you are not surprised because like me and others you too have realised that such evil as that perpetrated by Sreesanth has become too common - 'banality of evil'.

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  17. Well said!
    Like that phrase 'Banality of evil' Explains so much!!

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    1. Hannah Arendt coined the phrase with respect to some Nazi leaders who perpetrated terrible evil against the Jews in Germany. Many common people in Germany at that time supported the genocide of Jews. Common acceptance of evil. We are living in a time when corruption is accepted commonly!

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