'What would an inoffensive political cartoon look like?’ What would a respectful cartoon look like? The form requires disrespect and so if we are going to have in the world things like cartoons and satire, we just have to accept it as part of the price of freedom.' - Sir Salman Rushdie
Their actions evidently seem contradictory to their motto.
Very often, you’d find that inside a
totalitarian state, like that of China, Syria, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Belarus or
even Russia, there are so many things about it that are so good but it is
because of the regime, the outside world in general has a very poor opinion on the
countries. This need not be just in politics, there is politics everywhere and
even though it is always said that sport should be independent from politics,
we still can’t separate the two, can we?
Well, with the conclusion of the 65th
Congress of FIFA, it was inevitable that the public was going to go gaga
following the re-election of the controversial president Sepp Blatter despite
the wake of the recent corruption scandal that has hit the headlines, yet
another time, where FIFA has been in the headline for all the wrong reasons
with the previous prominent one being four years ago where the World Cup for
2018 and 2022 was unexpectedly awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively, making
it very clear that the organisation was being taken over by oligarchs and
sheikhs. This re-election from the outside simply implies Blatter would have
ruled the beautiful game for nearly twenty years, since 1998.
Too many similarities in the picture?
Why Belarus is called a totalitarian state?
It does have elections, but then, the elections aren’t exactly fair, there is
only one person (Lukashenko, in this case) who gets a thumping victory every
time such elections are held and Belarus hasn’t seen any other president till
date. But in comparison, Blatter doesn’t seem to be much different from
Lukashenko, barring the fact that his reign started four years after that of
the latter, but then, their tactics aren’t a lot different, like in 2011, how
Blatter abused his presidential powers to get both his nearest rivals
suspended, being Mohammed bin Hammam (AFC) and Jack Warner (CONCACAF) just
before the 61st Congress. I believe FIFA has seen more presidents
only because it has lasted longer than Belarus, so far. The recent one goes without
saying, Blatter lobbied enough to get enough support for his re-election
despite the fierce opposition from the all-powerful UEFA; who were vocal about their
support for the Hashemite Prince Ali (ignore the irony of a Hashemite running
for power, they normally just get it). As far as the lobbying is concerned, I’d
just take the example of my own country of residence, the president of All
India Football Federation (AIFF) – Praful Patel, gave a press interview
declaring India’s support for Blatter and didn’t offer any valid justification
as to why he was rooting for Blatter rather the fact that he had been at the
helm for too long. It’d be interesting to know that Patel actually happens to
be a politician from a party called the NCP, expanded as Naturally Corrupt Party by the current Prime Minister in one of his
rallies (not entirely unsubstantiated) and so, I guess Blatter couldn’t have
asked for a better ally. But jokes apart, to think of it a little seriously,
the larger question arises, is FIFA really the democratic organisation acting
in the best interests of the beautiful game?
The misfortune about FIFA’s democratic
structure is that, the presidential candidate, in most cases just needs to gain
the favour of one person from each country to become the guardian of the most
followed sport in the world and taking my own Praful Patel example, as far as I
know, a significant ardent football fans whom I have spoken to in India were
absolutely against the re-election of Blatter but still, it absolutely doesn’t
matter, you get a headline in BBC World News saying that ‘India supports
Blatter’ as that man has managed to lobby enough to gain the support of ONE
person in the country.
The Ghost Goal
To go on with the other shortcomings, FIFA
have been holding on to their archaic rules in the name of holding on to
antiquity and have not taken any step to develop the game in anyway whatsoever
and amongst all the sports that I follow, football uses technology the least,
thanks to FIFA. While other sports voluntarily implemented technology, it took
Frank Lampard’s ghost goal in the 2010 World Cup (can’t believe it is more than
five years, the frustration is felt to this date) for Blatter and his congress
of loons to realise the importance of goal line technology. So, here you find
the next feature of a typical totalitarian state in FIFA, that there is no step
voluntarily taken towards development unless you’re forced to and you
ingratiate only those whom you’re close to and I’d come to that in the next
Ingratiating the people whom you want,
another typical feature you’d find in any totalitarian state, shrunk to a
single word – ‘cronyism’. The incident that could be immediately recalled is
the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where alcohol is prohibited inside stadiums to
curtail violence. But then, Budweiser was a chief sponsor of the FIFA and
hence, even before Brazil raised any talk of amending the laws to make an
exception for the world cup, FIFA released a statement saying that Budweiser
would be allowed to sell and eventually, Brazil had to budge by passing a bill,
colloquially termed as the Budweiser
Bill. See, here you go, you’ve the next feature – suppression of the
interests of citizens (members in this case) to support the interests of a
select few large corporations.
Coming back to what I stated in my first
paragraph, take the case of, say, Syria, said to have so many excellent relics
of the Mesopotamian civilisation, the early Roman structures, Islamic
structures in Aleppo, etc. and most tourists have narrated very positive
experiences with the people of Syria but still, people had a negative opinion
from the outside because of the Al-Assad regime (although, considering the
alternatives after the break out of the civil war, Al-Assad seems the best
option available) and similarly, the headlines that the guardian of the
beautiful game is grabbing is doing the game more harm than good and the game
is going to make no inroads into countries where the game isn’t very popular
when an organisation like FIFA is promoting the same.
To conclude, I’d say that FIFA isn’t doing
the game any good, corruption is so deep rooted, and it is akin to an absolute
totalitarian state as substantiated above. This means, to protect the game,
only two things could be done – either a complete overhaul is required in FIFA
to correct the mess that they’re in and the recent scandal wasn’t a revelation
in anyway, but just something known to everyone and it took a lot of time to
come out. The second alternative is a complete boycott of the organisation and
I’m happy that UEFA is taking the courageous step and I hope they carry it
forward. The latter seems the only option at the moment as with the re-election
of Blatter, things certainly don’t seem to change for the better and as such,
he is someone who has the audacity to say, ‘I’d forgive but not forget’ while
referring to Platini’s critical comments. I read some positive headlines that
England is willing to boycott 2018 if more join the movement and I hope the
movement gains the momentum and hopefully, sooner rather than later, FIFA, the
way we know it today no longer exists and what we see is a reformed guardian of the sport whose priority is the welfare of the sport.
Your level of influence on the people around you is often said to be very important and I'm someone who very strongly believes in it. However, the key question is, how do you achieve this level of influence and moreover, how do you judge whether a person's voice really has an influence on the people - often put in simple terms - whether the person has charisma.
While I'm really not sure as to how that is achieved, whether it is innate or whether it is something achievable by conscious effort but what I've observed over the years is that there is a misconceived notion on achieving the same and here I merely intend to touch upon this misconception.
What I find is, there are some kinds of people who are very loud, who push their ideas and views very aggressively and and make a lot of noise in the name of expressing theirs voice. Interestingly, such people have followers of two kinds, one set of people who are too submissive and another set of people who see themselves in that person and are equally noisy and obnoxious. What I'm immediately reminded of is the two recently concluded events that upheld the democratic traditions of the United Kingdom - one being the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 and the general election, 2015.
Where the former is concerned, whenever I read any article or watched any YouTube video regarding the same, I found the nationalists commenting all over the place as to how everyone is biased and the general public wants to vote yes in the referendum and accusing every journalist and panelist of bias. Anybody from a far away place such as myself, by reading such comments is that the UK is going to shatter and that the nationalists are going to win it hands down.
The next is the general election with respect to Nigel Farage and his party UKIP. Farage pushed his rather radical ideas in a very very aggressive manner throughout his campaign, which has been going on for sometime now, who ran a single point agenda and somehow believed that the single point would resolve every other problem that the country is facing. Even in television debates, he goes about making wild claims, in a very aggressive manner, a lot of them completely untrue, but then, just because there was a man standing behind the podium expressing something angrily, a lot of people I knew thought the statements to be legitimate. In fact, Farage's supporters were so advanced that I read in an article in The Guardian that going just by Google search against their name, Farage would heavily outnumber Ed Miliband to become the leader of opposition in the House of Commons.
However, the reality in both the cases was quiet different - with Scotland deciding to stay in the Union and Nigel Farage's UKIP winning just one seat in the 650 member house with Farage losing his own seat (for the purpose of this article, I'm going to ignore that fact that UKIP got more votes than Lib Dems and the SNP).
Coming back to my observations, what I see in all these cases, is that, the majority is always silent and are not really bothered by the noise that is created by the people who vociferously promote their thoughts and the truth is, they do so because they actually feel insecure about being in this minority that they try to show their presence by making a lot of noise and this goes on till the day when the silent majority finally decide to exercise their choice as Gordon Brown said, in his speech at Glasgow a day before the referendum - "The silent majority shall be silent no more".
So, all I wish to say is, especially to those who wish to gain an influence amongst the people around them, merely making a noise doesn't indicate that you're having a voice, you'd live under an illusion till you're pulled down when you needed that voice.
I see plenty of people around me who crumble under
the corporate pressure of the age. Is it of any surprise that the world in
moving in an unfathomable direction? We feel that we understand how our lives
are moving. But how much control do we have on our lives? I for one, feel that
I have very limited control over my activities. Anything I do is effectively
controlled by how our economy wants it to move.
The world today is a dynamic one, with an
effervescent population running a race where the path is predefined by the nation’s
corporate democracy. Since the reforms of 1990’s, India has seen a boom in
number of companies aligning themselves with the corporate culture employed in
the US. We have been using the US structure to bolster ourselves and our beliefs.
This however does not ring true when considering the core labour that implants
its roots into our workplace behavior. On comparing the efforts put in by an
Indian with that of the national of a significantly developed country, we can
find that our manifold efforts overshadow, at least in quantity, overshadow
theirs. This situation has come across through one phenomenon; man’s greed.
Being the country that is infamous/famous for its
adaptability, we have the distinct disadvantage of being exploited. Being
almost without exception, the needy side of the bargain, we tend to stoop lower
to please the providers. The Atticism of the providers in making us work
elongated hours is profound. As expected, we adapt a so called flexible working
time, and the eventuality for earning an extra dime increases. This has led to
the redefinition of the word ‘Professionalism’ in today’s lingo. However much
we think that we are the masters of our lives, the redefined word masters us
all. In today’s terms, the word practically means catering to all the needs of
the provider, forgoing personal time for
the dime, appending our time with international time to create really
drawn out hours of work, addressing the whims of the bosses, etcetera. These
are only a few of the numerous ravenous changes to the word that used to stand
for effective and efficient service to a client with an objective mind.
I for one believe that man’s deity has always been
connected to, or directly implying man’s insatiable character. Regardless of
how much a man gets, his hunger just grows. I am not saying that all humans are
the same. I have known many humans who are meek. Out of this population as
well, there are ones who have succumbed to the snobbishness of society. Our
work is defined by this pretense now. Just as how Midas ended up solidifying
his daughter in his greed, humans of this generation would end up crumbling
their souls, which are representative of their persons and their loved ones.
There is this precedent of working for hours at hand, for weeks, months and
years. Finally, at the brink of destruction or inutility, whichever comes
earlier, a trip is undertaken to the Bahamas, Europe, or to some tropical
rainforest, or some other place devoid of human civilization. This is what is
popularly known as vacation in the modern context. Its former meaning held for
centuries, being a regular break in between work to spend time with family.
With the increasing demand for our presence in our workplaces, regular breaks
are a fallacy. What we could have is definitely not what we get. What we get is
a miniscule portion of the bare minimum.
People are in need of a better life across this
country. Instead of bending down and letting the culture at work, trample your
dreams, catch on to something. That something can be a hobby or a dream or
anything for that matter. This is what I believe, keeps me going. If that
something has a monetary tail, beyond a point it may render a person
defenseless and inutile against the bulging demands of today’s society. It took
me a while to understand that my greed for materials is not everything but only
something. My greed could get me things, but made me lose a lot more.
‘He is a racist!’, ‘She is a racist!’, ‘They’re a bunch of racists!’,
‘It is a racist nation!’ etc. are phrases that you keep hearing all the time. I
don’t aim to post another article over and above a million already posted on
how condemnable the culture of racism is and how it affects those targeted,
etc. Very often, I often find that people, who accuse everyone else of being
racist, often do have such inclinations themselves and I wonder, how many
people making such allegations are actually aware what the term means?
Well, I understand that there is a dilemma with regard to whether
the term is applicable only for racial discrimination or it also includes
ethnic discrimination? Is it applicable only from those perceived to be from a
so called ‘superior’ race / ethnicity or is it neutral? If you go blindly by
the lexicon, this is what it says:
discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race
based on the belief that one’s own race is superior’ – Oxford Dictionary
Here, it talks only about the race of the person but nothing
beyond the race (where the scope is very limited) and more importantly, it also
is neutral in its definition, by which, it means, a Caucasian making a snide
remark on a Black based on her / his race is a racist remark and so is the
converse, equally so, which is very often ignored. But then, based on what I have observed, if the
simile monkey is used on a Black, it is immediately deemed racist but the same
isn’t done so when a Caucasian is referred to as a swine (while I don’t
encourage the use of the former, and is in fact quite condemnable but I’d say
that if the former qualifies as a racist remark, the latter equally does). The
reason why I contemplate on this a lot is, because, very often, I find that the
historic victims of racism love playing the card and the same is often
exploited, be it in football matches or political speeches wherein, anything is
accused as being racist but at the same time, those who play the victim card,
make similar personal attacks on their opponent which just gets termed as a ‘aggressive
speech’ or at the most, an ‘abusive speech’ but is never termed racist unlike
what normally happens to speeches given by delegates of a race who haven’t been
victims of the phenomenon historically. At this moment, I’m reminded of a couple
of dialogues from Yes Prime Minister where Prime Minister James Hacker was
discussing education and when a concern was raised that some of the public
schools teach more Hindi than English, this is what James Hacker had to say –
that English is more important than Hindi in this country but I’d dare not say
that in public for I’d immediately by accused of racism. Last week, at the
ethnic awareness council, I happened to glance at my watch when a black woman
delegate was delivering her speech and I was immediately accused of racist body
language.’ – The National Education
Service – Season 2, Episode 7
The next is the confusion regarding ethnic discrimination and as
seen above, while the dictionary doesn’t touch upon it and doesn’t include it
within the ambit, the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discriminationdoes not
differentiate between ethnic and racial discrimination and is very much
included in the scope of the term. So, now comes the question, very often ,
friends of mine who return from abroad claim that some were racist towards
her/him and when I ask how, in most cases, the reason would be owing to some
stereotype or plain ignorance of the other person and occasionally, it is a
racist remark indicating superiority. However, a lot of these people, make such
snide remarks about people from other provinces, often based on ethnicity, make
a lot of judgements based on stereotypes and at the same time are hypocritical
enough to accuse everyone else of racism barring themselves.
personally, I myself am from a region in this world usually perceived as
victims of racism (even though the situation in this region by itself, isn’t
much different, internally) but the reason why I’ve a soft corner for those
from a so called ‘superior’ race is because, I know a lot of people from that
category, who have no belief in racism, see everyone as equals and are yet,
accused of being racism and that is when, I feel, the so called oppressed are
taking advantage of the laws in favour of them and take every single jibe far
too seriously and interpret them as racist (I recall a lot of incidents in
concluding on this, let me make it very clear that I’m completely against
racism, of all kinds, personally, I don’t even acknowledge race and ethnicity
and also, I don’t deny that there are people who are victims to racism but at
the same time, the more we introspect, the more we realise that there is a
racist within most of us (even the victims – actual or perceived) and the
reason why I wrote this is for us to do that introspection and kill that racist
future be a world where we sail beyond all these narrow ideologies carried forward from the medieval era.