Who are TP Sudhindra, Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav, Shalabh Shrivastava, and Abhinav Bali?
Till yesterday, many of us probably didn’t know who they were until a TV channel showed us a sting operation.
They were cricketers and play for IPL teams. But we haven’t seen them or heard them much because they are the cattle-class of luxury-cricket who are paid some pittance to sit on a bench.
When the TV channel that is distinctively identifiable for the taste of programmes it airs, said spot-fixing and IPL, one thought it won’t disappoint this time.
But it was the same story yet again: some small town unsuspecting guys talking big on stealth camera (and a bit of cricket). One cannot make out if the guys, perhaps disgruntled by sitting on the bench for too long, are bragging, or, what they are saying is real.
The sting didn’t lead us anywhere.
If it is real, then there is something wrong — the names one of the sting-victims drops are big including an IPL owner.
So one would expect the BCCI to investigate. Instead, they do what we have seen for the nth time. Sack the small-towners. Predictably, the poor guys say they are innocent.
The channel doesn’t have any more material to take the story forward.
End of story!
The targets do not seem to know what exactly happened because a small-towner joining the big league and big icons usually bring home a lot of fibs, gossip and loud talk. This is small-town heroism.
One has seen this a lot among people working in the movies. If one stings those talking heads, one can get a channel-full of salacious material.
Even Murdoch wouldn’t say that sting operations and wire-tapping are done for public service than for selling more issues. But then, it is such a pity that it comes at the cost of the under-privileged and the minions and not the big guys.
Whether it happens in London with a villager called Mohammed Amir or in Lucknow with an uncapped IPL 15th man, these operations are essentially exploitative of the underclass — the vulnerable ones who are effectively induced into a money or honey-trap.
Perhaps to match up to the inducements, the poor chaps talk big and drop names to look big so that they get a little more money.
Will we see a sting operation that traps real big people doing real big things? Say an IPL-owner flying in a private jet and handing over money under the table?
Nah, no chance.
Weaklings are the favourites of the opportunistic stings in other spheres of public life as well. For instance, in 2005, 11 backbench MPs were caught on camera taking money to ask questions in Parliament. All obscure guys. Congress lost just one MP while all the others were from the Opposition.
And what about the Tehelka operation that trapped Bangaru Laxman? Same story. A Dalit leader heading the BJP, he lost his political life and landed himself a jail term.
In films, it was a TV actor and a low-weight Shakti Kapoor who appeared to have fallen for the honey-trap without suspecting the presence of a camera. Similar stories get frequently repeated in countless local channels.
The trend in Indian stings, which have become as common as the Chinese pen-mounted cameras, seems to be to target the easy meat. Whether it is India TV, Cobrapost or Tehelka, the bulk of the victims seem to be small-town, possibly semi-literate, and vulnerable types.
But there are no big fish ever caught in the net.
How are these sting operations any different from the “scandal videos” that one shoots with unsuspecting sex-partners? Do they achieve any purpose other than creating an aimless sensation and spoiling the lives of weak, small-town fellows?