Leaders playing politics– it’s just not ‘cricket’!

It’s that time of the year again. An all-new silly season. The appointed era for sub-regional madness, mayhem, and massacre – known as the Cricket World Cup in, er, civilized circles. When flannelled fools become multihued demigods clashing with other ultra-fit athletes to demonstrate their mettle, stamina, and (let’s face it) greed for glory. Sadly it’s also the spirit of the age when, with such intense activity and adulation and attention, the host nations become a tad bit more self-conscious than is either natural for them, or good for the general populace on whom they benevolently focus their newfound energy and largesse!

In words of one syllable, this means that it’s just got hot in the sun back home and that Govt. has ants in its pants. Cricket, like Commonwealth Conferences and SAF Games, attracts a lot of media attention. Touring teams and their fans, to say nothing of amped up television crews and socially conscientious (read curious) reporters with a nose for the human interest story (read gossip) start digging for dirt. And I don’t mean mundane stuff – like is Hambantota a white elephant?

I’m talking about gory news, like getting slum- and shanty-dwellers to don their Sunday best for the sake of appearances. Putting on airs and graces that don’t come naturally to street hawkers and pavement-bound beggars the other 300 days of the year. Insisting that pedestrians cross at the striped line – or face a fine of up to 500 bucks.

Posting coppers every 50 metres so that perverts, pickpockets, prostitutes alike (and never mind politicos for the nonce – never can tell them apart from the former, anyway) don’t have half a chance to ply their trade. Whitewashing the city square (no protests and bloodless revolutions, please!) and restraining those hooligans and thugs otherwise inclined to paint the town red. Hiding the lame and halt away, so that they won’t freak out those high-spending tourists.

Halting the hustle and bustle of common or market-garden life so that the gnomes and goblins and gargoyles won’t gross out the VIPs who pay top-dollar for super-luxury hotels and reserved seats. You get the picture. It’s the zeitgeist of the poor nations whose leaders’ hands are in the public till… until the next international carnival comes home to roost – and suddenly the pigeons are noticed to be spoiling the dove cote with their proletarian droppings; and the peaceniks have turned into war-hawks touting total war against poverty, plebeian diseases, and petty crime, etc.

Well, it’s good… but it’s not good enough. Not for a nation-state that’s had sufficient time to pick up the pieces since a debilitating conflict ended. Almost two years ago. We are the champions, and we deserve better!

We are the champions

No, I don’t mean cricket! Just a day after I spotted the news item announcing the determination of the long arm of the law to fine jay-walkers, I saw two flat-footed coppers cross a main road without the benefit of a zebra crossing. Donkeys crossing, I saw? Hee-haw! How pedestrian, you say! The point is: please do not under any circumstances attempt to pass a law under which Average Citizen A and Reckless Road User X will be hauled up before the awful, um, majesty of the law – if Constable Plod and PC Goon are going to be made exempt. Goody, why not extend the principle to the, hah, upper echelons of society?

If you want to clean up the mess that the country’s in, O impatient City Fathers, please start by ridding the plaza of the corrupt politicos who are floating at the top like pond scum. If you wish to rid our neighbourhood of some serious garbage, O intolerant Town Councillors, hasten to arrest and detain the true polluters of our environs. You get the idea… you know whom we mean, no? No? Agitate against apparatchiks who perpetuate the cult of cronyism. Eliminate corruption – both givers and takers of bribes. Interdict the petty bureaucrats and wasteful weasels in the wedges of government. Order the disorderly. Undermine the nepotism that is rampant among the ruling classes. “Ecrasez l’infame” (pardon my French, I simply mean: rid us of the vile things)!

We deserve better

Not we – the apathetic, brandy-swilling, cigar-chomping and champagne-swigging, despot-praising, demagogue-idolizing, dictator-worshipping, elite, effete, facile, gossiping, haughty, indolent, jingoistic, killjoy, lethargic, misguided, neanderthal, oversexed, pugnacious, quisling, pseudo-religious, subservient to the subversive, trite, useless in general, vicious in victory, warlike in defeat, xenophobic, yahoos and yobbos and zealots – But they… the poor, tired, hassled, harried, sick, naked, weak, underfed, under-educated, marginalized, nondescript, lost of the land. World Cup be it as it may, Sri Lankan win or loss be that as it may; this is their life, their future, their destiny. Let’s please please please not do yet another cosmetic job to impress visiting, huh, dignitaries – and deny the needy of our country the dignity that they deserve. Let’s champion their right, in the heat of the need of the moment, to eat, drink, and live as we do. Howzat?

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