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Hiding behind ‘Indian Values’

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At a time when the #MeToo movement has contributed a new vocabulary to the women’s movement across the globe in general and in India in particular, Boria Majumdar’s article “The Dark Underbelly of Stardom: Hardik Pandya in Koffee with Karan” (EPW, 26 January 2019) is not only disappointing, but rather misleading in different ways. The article lacks the nuances and complexities required for dealing with the issue of toxic masculinity exhibited by Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul. It is not merely a case of a cricketer in his early 20s, having failed to handle the stardom, unravelling the private in the public domain, nor is it an instance of immorality that goes against “Indian values.” It is the inherent patriarchy that the term “gentlemen’s game” itself propagates. The article’s fetish for Indian morality certainly does the same.

While Rohit Sharma’s sense of missing his wife and daughter during international cricket trips may overwhelm the Indian audience with subtle emotional hyperbole, the compulsion for his wife to stay back for taking care of their daughter uncovers the inner rules of a long-celebrated patriarchal game. Another example is that of Sachin Tendulkar instructing his wife to give their son a certain amount of money for buying shoes, thereby reasserting his authority over the political economy of the family. Majumdar celebrates this as “Indian values.” The use of these incidents to showcase what Indian cricket is, only reaffirms the game’s pretentions of gentlemanliness, its close bonds with the ideals of Hindutva nationalism, and consequently patriarchy.

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Updated On : 1st Feb, 2019

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