When Mary Kom Throws Her Hat into the Ring

I have been so great in boxing they had to create an image like Rocky, a white image on the screen, to counteract my image in the ring. America has to have its white images, no matter where it gets them. Jesus, Wonder Woman, Tarzan and Rocky.
- Muhammad Ali

So far Mary Kom’s politics is faintly noticeable from those on animal rights and nowhere else
Image courtesy: Peta India

It is a matter of joy and pride when someone from our own folk achieves a certain level of success. A few pun lovers note that success is relative: the more success you have, the more relatives you get! The case of Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom is becoming no different for many people. Not many people knew her even after winning the World Amateur Boxing champion five times. All’s history though; and today, she is one of the most recognised celebrities in India and her popularity is still on an exponential rise that ascended five to six years ago.

These days she is also donning newer hats; the latest of which is becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha / Council of States or the upper house of the Indian Parliament. After her nomination by the Indian president, she took the oath yesterday (26 April). So far her politics has been only on animal issues with her association for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animal India; albeit nobody knows her public-life agenda. For the last forty-eight hours, people are overjoyed more for her new designation than what she can do or generally what the upper house can do or cannot.

Rajya Sabha might explain the institutional legitimacy and power, with reference to the Indian parliamentary system at the union level. The concept of institution is utterly miserable in our hometown. Still, anywhere, it is far from perfect and in fact, for us, it accentuates the marginalisation process, which in another way can be expressed as further subjugation as another house of the bicameral system—the Lok Sabha has been allowing so for the last many decades with extreme injustice of misrepresentation. Nevertheless, we have been overexcited that a boxer has been nominated to the Council. Truth be told, the condition is hardly different from chickens revelling with no awareness in a cage as they are transported from a farm to rear entrances of restaurants.

In the name of democracy, it is a quite a habit for the Indian polity to make celebrities from sports and entertainment members of the Council. It is also a house to the smartest people, who artlessly take advantage of the legal loopholes to realise their selfish goals. And in other circumstances, the house is quite an asylum for those election losers.

Flamboyant looters like Vijay Mallya has broken the sanctity or whatever the Rajya Sabha is known for as a federal structure of the Constitution. On the other hand, celebrities such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha had drawn flak in the recent past for their lack of attendance in the house. For that matter, their class is notorious for absenteeism. This is regarding a statement made by Mary Kom, who said that her current commitment is just to qualify for the Rio Olympics that is scheduled to begin from August 5 later this year. Boxing comes before the Parliament.

So, we can be 100% sure that she will be definitely keeping up the legacy of her compatriots, whom the establishment believes their inclusion will add more flavours to the talking shop of democracy.  It would be great if they spend at least half of the amount they receive annually in terms of crores for their membership in the house.

Preaching and practice are two opposite things. On paper, the entire treatment of diseases—from prognosis and diagnosis to therapy and surgery—can be written with such meticulous detail but that does not mean everybody will be getting access to the healthcare system, leave alone the treatment. On paper, again, we could be living in the largest democracy but we could as well be fighting for the most basic right to live a life of dignity. That’s one of the problems wrt the Indian polity and our lives in the peripheral regions.

The Council of State promises to safeguard the state’s interest but with the nomination of celebrities to carry out its functions, ideals such as those of responsible leaders, altruism and accountability have gone down the drain. Alternatively, there is nothing to do with the Council of States as much as its keepers are supposed to be. And we have Mary Kom now. We know her allegiance to the establishment so it will be practical to expect very little from her, and the least, considering her belonging to a fancy class of people. Success is most of the time not relative but very individualistic. Good for you, Miss Magnificent Mary!

- Concluded.

PS: A disc shelf without a Nina Simone’s CD is like an underwear without elastic. A few days ago, Nina (2016), a biopic on her was released, in which Zoe Saldana plays the role of the legendary musician/activist. To put it bluntly, Saldana is brown but has a comparatively fairer skin. So, people were outraged with the selection of Saldana, who has a little lighter shade of skin colour, to play Nina. Cut it back to our condition, a Bollywood actress, Priyanka Chopra—who is ‘diametrically’ different from Mary Kom in every possible ways—played the latter’s role in a biopic, Mary Kom (2014) and nobody bats an eyelid. 



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