[WSMDiscuss] Who Feels the Pain of the Injured ? - subhash gatade

Subhash Gatade subhash.gatade at gmail.com
Tue Jun 8 15:28:42 CEST 2021

Who Feels the Pain of the Injured?

India’s most prominent sports and entertainment figures have to traverse a
long distance to achieve true greatness.

-subhash gatade

The racial bias in the American education system came under the scanner
recently from an unexpected quarter. The occasion was a series of events to
mark the 100th anniversary of an organised massacre of Blacks in Tulsa,
Oklahoma, in 1921. Mobs of violent white supremacists had destroyed the
prosperous black Greenwood neighbourhood in a well-planned and
predetermined manner, many aided and abetted by city officials, who
provided arsonists with weapons. Actor-filmmaker Tom Hanks, regarded as an
American cultural icon, underlined the conspiracy of silence in the school
curriculum around this tragic race massacre in which 300 Black people died,
and 10,000 became destitute or homeless.

In his essay, “You Should Learn the Truth about Tulsa Race Massacre
published this month in the New York Times, Hanks unpacks the systematic
cover-up of the massacre and other instances of racial bias and
discrimination that the school education system papers over. He writes that
white teachers and school administrators prioritise white feelings over
Black experiences, which helps them omit “volatile” topics and preserve the
status quo. Hanks has not limited his focus to the racial bias in the
American education system but admits the role of Bollywood in shaping “what
is history and what is forgotten”.

Have the icons of entertainment in India ever taken a leaf out of Hank’s
book and searched their soul about the exclusions, discriminations and
humiliations rampant in Indian society and their “industry”? For example,
forty-two people, most of them Dalit women and children, were killed in the
Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu in 1969 by local landlords. The Kilvenmani
place more than a half-century ago. On its fiftieth anniversary, a series
of remembrance events were held across the country, not unlike the events
that marked the Tulsa race violence
The Thanjavur killings are said to be the first massacre of their kind in
independent India. No perpetrator of this attack ever got punished. The
court held that since the alleged attackers belonged to the upper strata of
society, it was difficult to believe that they had walked into the

Did any anniversary of this organised killing of Dalits (they were fighting
for a dignified life by demanding higher wages) find space on the Twitter
handles of Indian mahanayaks? Maybe it is asking too much of them, so let
us ask for a little. Have icons of the Indian film industry ever questioned
the younger stars or their peers when they made objectionable remarks about
women, Dalits or any other group? Do they reprimand them for loaded
comments about marginalised people or identities?

In a recent viral video, film star Randeep Hooda is seen making insulting,
casteist and sexist remarks about BSP leader Mayawati at an event held
years ago. Yuvika Chaudhary and Munmun Datta, both well-known TV actors,
made casteist comments in their videos too. FIRs were filed against them in
various police stations (and they apologised). However, these actors hardly
got the rap from the seniors in their industry. And they are not alone in
issuing disparaging statements about non-elite classes and castes.
Bollywood heroes Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty were in legal soup after
making casteist remarks.

Their words carry weight, but the top guns of the entertainment industry
neither condemn such utterances nor expose how there is no end to
caste-based discrimination and gender-based oppression in a country that
boasts of “vasudhaiv kutumbakam”. Is their refusal to condemn such
behaviour a reflection of the double standards that prevail across Indian
society? Is it that like many of us, these celebrities have no qualms in
wearing their moral relativism on their sleeves? The stark fact is that a
significant section of citizens is condemned to live in subhuman
conditions, but that does not concern the well-off, famous and elites of
Indian society, which includes the icons of our television and film

The silence over social issues or “volatile” subjects is nothing but a tool
to maintain the status quo. This tendency is not limited to the
entertainment industry. The top names in the arena of sports are no
exception. Wasim Jaffer
a former opening batsman who played 31 tests for India, resigned as the
head coach of the Uttarakhand team citing “interference and bias”.

A contemporary of Sachin Tendulkar, Jaffer played national cricket for
around a decade before he switched to coaching. He was at the centre of a
controversy when an Uttarakhand Cricket Association official made
unsubstantiated allegations that he was making religion-based selections to
the team. It surprised cricket fans that (barring Anil Kumble) none of
Jaffer’s leading contemporaries, who had played with him for years, praised
him for his professional attitude and flair at the game, and who also knew
him personally, bothered to express solidarity. If they could not take a
stand about their colleague, a position on social issues is highly unlikely.

Or consider the Indian Premier League matches played in April when the
Covid-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc. People were dying on the streets, at
home, and outside hospitals from want of beds or medical oxygen that month
and the next. A broad spectrum of civil society organisations questioned
the decision to hold these matches, but the matches continued, without
protest. Only when team players and workers started falling sick were the
games postponed. During all these developments, most of the cricketing
greats of India preferred to keep their mouths shut.

Our decorated figures from the sports and entertainment world have to
traverse a long distance to achieve true greatness. The English football
team has decided that during this Euro 2020 season it will “take the knee”
to oppose institutionalised racism and declare its unequivocal support to
minority rights. Their resolve did not fade even when a section of the
audience booed and jeered
them during a friendly match with Austria. Their manager said the team is
“more determined than ever”. Perhaps the Indian team can find its
icons—from anywhere in the world—and do better next time

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