Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kalmadi: Danger of not Belonging

I must confess that the doings of the self-proclaimed moral majority in the context of the very well orchestrated morality campaign has been very discomforting.

The most recent casualty of this campaign, run with the help of select multi-media-influenced, west-imitating, candle-light campaign is the CBI arrest of Suresh Kalmadi.

My discomfort is not because of whether or not I approve of Kalmadi, but because of my perception of the reasons for which the evil cloud around Kalmadi has been spread. It is a result of a concerted media witch-hunt where a few assume the mantle of 1.2 billion people simply because they have monopolized the access to media and thereby exercise their self-anointed right to influence people.

The fact that Kalmadi has thrice been elected as an elected parliamentary representative of the people is dismissed as another convincing example of corruption by a moral brigade again representing the same 1.2 billion people with little evidence but a face-book count without any idea of which agency is controlling the face-book accounts. That is what is discomforting.

I was told by many Maharashtrians ever since I landed in Pune more than twenty years ago that Kalmadi was very corrupt. They usually said this in the same breath as they had said this of other politicians including Sharad Pawar. It was at this time (near 1990) that the prominent Mahrashtrian leader, V. N. Gadgil lost his parliamentary seat in the elections while Kalmadi was growing his wings and gaining national prominence as a sports administrator. Kalmadi spread his influence in Pune so much so that Gadgil felt threatened and Gadgil's followers started going (around 1998) to the Maratha leader Sharad Pawar's camp, rather than be under the leadership of a non-Maharashtrian. Gadgil and his fellow Konkanashta brahmins, after all, were the same tribe that gave the rule of Peshwas in Pune.

Kalmadi may not have been a pure soul but the reputation of a "touch of sin" suited his happy, if seemingly mischievous personality. Kalmadi was alright for me because of this, since I have always been suspicious of saints, if only because of the heavy influence of catholic saints during my Roman Catholic and Society of Jesus learning days.

I have only heard or perhaps even read about his rise to prominence. It seems that at the time (during the mergency) when Indira Gandhi was being looked upon as a villain by the moralirty brigade of the middle class, Suresh Kalmadi ventured to lead a protest in front of the caravan which was taking Indira Gandhi to jail after the emergency and when the government of the very "immaculately" moral Morarji Desai came to power. I liked Kalmadi's spunk at that time because I thought it was extremely unfair the way the JP movement was created to destabilize the Indira Gandhi government with the help of the courts and the bad reputation of Sanjay Gandhi. I also lernt to my surprise, that he was a pilot in the airforce which he gave up to join public life. He always gave the impression of being a gutsy man, including the time after his recent arrest when he tried to be as composed as he could be. I think he was well composed.

One really cannot say that one is so honest that one feels uncomfortable with a sinner. I, for one, am very uncomfortable with saints who speak like saints. Sri sri Ravi Shankar comes to mind as such an uncomfortable saint for me simply because, perhaps, of his alligator smile. Swami Ramdev does not. Ramdev does give hints of forgiving sins. One may be sadder but also, happily, a little wiser for the sinful experience. I am perhaps influenced by the song of by Professor Harold Hill in "The Music Man" (which I saw in my formative early twenties) when he sings (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PujvRmxvtao) the "Sadder and Wiser Girl for me"
No wide-eyed, eager,
Wholesome innocent Sunday school teacher for me.
That kinda girl spins webs no spider ever--
No golden, glorious, gleaming pristine goddess--
No sir!
I flinch, I shy, when the lass with the delicate air goes by
I smile, I grin, when the gal with a touch of sin walks in.

The sadder-but-wiser girl's the girl for me.

I really dont know what corruption means. After all, honesty is something that is different for different environments. Was Robin Hood dishonest? After all, the pindaris plundered for the good of their tribes and for their Maratha rulers. The 2G policy helped the poor man by making the service cheaper and indirectly helped the mobile providers by increasing their sales of mobiles.

An answer that would satisy most (answers.com) is that corruption is "dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain". One does not define what the power is. Financial? Political? Spiritual? Sexual? Poetic? Literary? Patent? physical?.

Can one ever make money for personal gain or otherwise without exploiting the skills of others?

There are people who make money all the time for reasons they themselves may not understand, be they engineers, scientists, yoga teachers, musicians and other artists. I have no complaints against them. They would be good in almost anything.

I am personally a small-time sinner by choice not only because I could have a nervous breakdown if I was confused as a saint of the George Washington kind, but also simply because it is impossible for me to imagine spending a good evening in the company of people who takes pleasure in making money to be stored in Swiss or Seychelles banks for the benefits of the Swiss or the Seychellians. As far as I imagine, the most boring part of an evening with them would be their complete lack of original taste. I am just a petty swindler of the heart-broken kind.

There are various other less tolerable ways of making money. There is bakshish money which you get for services rendered. You can get it as a bearer in a hotel, for a waiter in a restautant, for a pimp to a prostitute of different kinds, sexual or non-, for a courier to an arms dealer, for a prime minister of a banana country, for being a supari killer in various ways which need not include real killing, for being a purohit to a godman or being a TV anchor in a channel with political motives, or maoist revolutionaries who are used to trade in arms with the help of trade in narcotics.

Will I judge the goodness of the much venerated late Sai Baba from his wealth of 40,000 crores and the hospitals he has provided rather than the actual methods by which he has accumulated his wealth. Will I judge the saintliness of Shri Shri Ravi Shankar by his "Art of Living" which appeals to the large majority of people who do not live unless they are told what the living is in simple attractive terms.

Or will I just go by their facial characteristics?

In the picture below there are four godmen of the conventional kind, while the cigar-smoking Castro is another kind of god. Of these six pictures, the conventional godmen have their right eye smaller (left eye as seen by the reader) than their left eye. The right eye is controlled by the more analytic left brain. By this analysis the godmen must be doing considerable analysis besides getting their spontaneous spiritual revelations. Castro and Kalmadi have balanced eyes. Castro's has the happiest image with a touch of sin. Castro's influence worldwide is perhaps the most dominant in my opinion, though I have not actually sat down and counted.

Among the godmen above only the Saibaba did not participate in the democracy-targeting anti-corruption movement. Perhaps it was because he did not have a beard? Were the bearded godmen more corrupt because they did encourage anti parliamentary democracy?

Politicians have their left eyes of the same size as their right eyes. I suppose they have either given up scheming or given up their analytic mind. If they were worried about their image, I guess their left eye (right eye to the viewer) would have shrunk. It seems to do so for Mayawati. For Kiran Bedi both her left brain is calculating and her right brain is worried about her image, or she is looking into the sun.

People who act seem to have a very good balance between their left and right eyes showing an wholesome balance between their left- and right-brain activity. If at all their right eye seems to be more uncertain showing perhaps their concern about their overall image (in my analysis)

The conclusion that I seem to have got at is judging by the way people look at the camera the godmen are the more complicated personalities and more difficult to be taken at their face value than the politician or the actor who become successful for their clean image.

Like the cockroach, corrupt methods have survived the whole of history and religion. It serves as the negative space to project the goodness of people. The morality that judges goodness is a social imposition for controlling/manipulating human behaviour, even if populations of other animals do not have preachers --- except, that their rogue animals have some of the strongest personalities and their queen bees get the largest following.

The Andre Agassi look-alike and "uplifting" science-fiction writer, David Brin, is quoted on the network as “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”. I agree with this perhaps, not only because I think I am sane. It is something like saying people who get cancer are attracted to smoking because of their tension-filled lifestyles; this used to be my rebuttal of the relation between tobacco and cancer when I smoked cigarettes. Now I just fume in anger?

It is a truism in India that it is alright to be corrupt as long as there is something to show that benefits the ordinary man, especially those who do not have the opportunity to be corrupt.

Kalmadi's staunch supporters after his arrest are probably not from the local brahmin or maratha community. One of his more vocal supporter is one Ramesh Bagwe who is from the indigeneous (non-Brahmin) dalit community who correctly observed "Kalmadi is innocent and nobody can call him a criminal until proven guilty in the court of law.". Another loyal supporter is Rajani Tribhuvan, former mayor in the Pune Municipal Council, who is reported to have said "We are in a democratic country and nobody can stop us from supporting our leader. If need be, I shall hit the street for Kalmadi, who made, a Dalit woman like me, the mayor of the city."

At what stage does one say that one is corrupt and to what quantifiable degree?

As per school catechism class, I was told of sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are sins (by ten commandment standards) that you have committed that you should not have. The sins of commissions are good things that you should have done but have failed to do. Of these the sins of omission are the less sinful and may be forgiven.

Forgive me O Lord the man was dying on the street after a bus ran over him but I could not help him because I was late. That would be a sin of omission and you will be forgiven.

Forgive me O Lord, the man was a commission agent breaking up my ancestros' village landscape built over many generations simply because he had a legal right to develop it. So we damaged his bulldozer. That is a sin of commission. You will be punished.

In organized Mafia of any kind (political, financial, religious, scientific, medical) the sins of commission and omission are slightly different. You got a commission and you left us out of it. That is a sin of omission and you will get your supari!

I think as far as execution of public projects where there are sins of commission which require being overlooked. It has been said that Sreedhar would not have finished the Delhi metro project had he not committed himself in various ways. I also think in running an International Games in a country with the seeming disparateness that prevents an outwardly smooth functioning without an insider commitment (such as the Delhi Development Authority), is near impossible.

Kalmadi's most serious shortcoming as far as his role in Maharashtra is perhaps the fact that the established Maharashtrians of Pune did not benefit directly from his rule. Kalmadi rose up the ranks to be head of several important international sports organization because of a credibility in organizing events and a needed pliability in the context of the international requirements when a sporting event is sold as a franchise to various countries. Olympic Associations are notorious for extracting their profits through their franchises for various sporting and commercial goods at the expense of hosting nations --- as China and Greece have discovered.

In the real commercial world, the olympics movement has little to do with healthy minds in healthy bodies. Kalmadi as president of the Indian Olympic association has to keep the interests of the International Olympics Committee in mind especially if he is interested in getting the Olympic Games to India. In the book The Olympic games: a social science perspective" by Toohey and Veal (p 128) there is something about the way the Olypmics programme that isextracted below (click to expand):

At the bottom of the extract is the relevant section on the Omega company which Kalmadi has been accused of favouring. It might have seemed to Kalmadi that if he rejects Omega who have developed (http://www.sportaserviss.lv/files/varia/DOCU_ST_Present1_E.pdf) the entire timing-scoring relevant to the olympic and other games, the chances of the olympic games being held in India would have been jeopardised. Kalmadi would have been perfectly right in thinking so just as Manmohan Singh would have been perfectly right in supporting American interests following Montek Singh Ahluwallia's arguments.

It seems that even if there is a considerable amount of publicity given to the alleged loss of revenue of ~ 100 crores on the Timing-Scoring deal the actual deal for which the CBI seems to have found evidence for is that " AM Films in London was hired in September 2009 to provide services like taxis and public-display television screens for the Queen's Baton Relay which kickstarted the Commonwealth Games."

Kalmadi had written earlier that the relay "... was approved by the executive board including a budget of Rs. 13.13 crore. OC has incurred an expense of Rs. 5.75 crore only." The actual eventual loss as estimated by the most honest would have been about 1.5 crore!

Kalmadi was arrested for theft of all things! The amount involved in the corruption would have been less than the price of the Audi in which he drove down to the CBI office. The actual swindling discrepancy in the relay deal was probably less than the annual salary of a middle rank IT office man and the monthly salary of a middle level CEO.

The amount of theft Kalmadi has been charged with must have been the most humiliating aspect of this case for Kalmadi. Its like being charged with the theft of a candy from my grand-daughter's lunch box, even if my grand-daughter is a lovely dog.

There has been a concerted effort to discredit Kalmadi. Compared to the 100,000 crore rupes scam it started with, it has finally boiled down to less than 0.005% of that amount. Who is behind this effort is not clear.

On the other hand, every body knows that Olympic Games are run for the image of the country even if it incurs a considerable loss. The Chinese spent more than 50 billion dollars at a huge financial loss and considerable national prestige. The Greece made equally impressive losses and squandered their prestige later.

The Commonwealth Games would have added to the national prestige. To do this one could have well understood if some corners were cut given the fact that two successive sports ministers were as as keen as any saboteur to sabotage the games or its organizers.

The national TV channels seemed to be hell bent in destroying any chance at getting any prestige and did not bother to conceal their happiness at every withdrawal of evry important athlete. Wasn't this sabotage a grossly corrupt practice that lowered the nation's prestige just so that it would hit Kalmadi?

The enthusiasm with which Ajay Maken is getting rid of Suresh Kalmadi without aiming for any verdict of guilt from a court immediately suggests, after a little research, that the bigwigs of Delhi --- probably Shiela Dixit herself --- would like to use Kalmadi as a scapegoat (see my blog : The CWG Syndrome in the Bt Brinjal: Part I. Commonwealth Games of 22 sept 2010).

In my (outsider) opinion, this anti-Kalmadi effort must have been orchestrated by those, among others, who think Kalmadi does not belong to their community. Maybe it is the Rahul Gandhi camp which has taken note of the Sanjay Gandhi connection of Kalmadi and would like to rid Pune of this influence. Maybe Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, who have been so manytimes denied control of Pune municipality because of Kalmadi, that they seized this opportunity to damage Kalmadi.

Who knows?!

Kalmadi would know. He had stopped belonging.

The Kalmadis from Tulunad are a highly respected and ancient scholarly family from Mangalore (see http://www.daijiworld.com/chan/exclusive_arch.asp?ex_id=1421&ex_title=Kalmadi+Footprints+in+Mangalore). Shamarao Kalmadi, father of Suresh Kalmadi, located to Pune via Bombay. The Karnatka High School of Pune is now named after Kalmadi's father and is one of the better schools of Pune. Suresh Kalmadi must have been a lively young man when he joined the airforce, earned his medals, set up a fast food shop in Deccan, met Sanjay Gandhi and became a Congressman, although I am not sure of the sequence.

The sorry point emerging from all this is that Kalmadi has been given a bad name and is being hanged because he does not belong.

Since the time I came to Pune, I have seen Kalmadi in various public functions on TV and even in Public in the Deccan Queen or some train travelling a little boisterously but merrily with his normal middle class family. Kalmadi came across as a jolly man. His phsique dteriorated with time and he wobbled and panted quite a bit when he ran, say, with the torch for the commonwealth games. I noticed that he had shaped up considerably for the better for the opening of the commonwealth games' opening ceremony. He actually made an effort to run up the steps.

We focus on corruption in the same way as we focus on god. We dont know what we exactly mean by corruption just as we dont know exactly what we mean by god, except that we think, without any evidence, that god cannot be corrupt.

The face-book well endowed protestors who think they are the ones who brought justice to Kalmadi maybe, by their ignorance of real motives, be doing a disservice to those from the aam aadmi who "... do some of the hardest work ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars ... who did not attend Harvard, Princeton or Yale don't drink lattes, have colonics, "do lunch," pay someone to walk our dog, or frighten our children with "green" ... environmental propaganda." This is from an article in praise of Sarah Palin with reference to the "Silent Majority" of America. I am no supporter of Palin but I am definitely a supporter of the notion that the dangerous people are the °self-appointed brainy and cerebral" followers of the moral brigade who pose the biggest threat when they act beyond their awareness.

Youth who protest a lot on a common platform should be aware of Nitezsche's warning:
"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.