Tawdry ex­port

The Washington Times Weekly - - Off The Tracks -

When you’re try­ing to dumb­down a defin­ing as­pect of your tra­di­tional cul­ture, what bet­ter men­tor to turn to than Un­cle Sam?

The Wash­ing­ton Red­skins cheer­lead­ers were brought in to show In­dia's cricket fans how to shake their pom­poms — but not ev­ery­one was im­pressed.

The New Delhi team said [April 30] it was switch­ing its cheer­lead­ers for a band of drum­mers. Mumbai politi­cians have forced theirs to cover up, say­ing their per­for­mances were lewd and not ap­pro­pri­ate for In­dia's tra­di­tional cul­ture.

The cheer­lead­ers were flown in to give a touch of glamor to the In­dian Pre­mier League — a newly launched cricket tour­na­ment that brings to­gether the sport's big­gest in­ter­na­tional stars, mil­lion-dol­lar (euro) con­tracts, big busi­ness and celebri­ties.

Cricket in its purest form is a serene game that lasts five days and is played by men in white who take breaks for tea.

But the In­dian Pre­mier League presents a flashy, rapid-fire ver­sion that is played in just five hours un­der flood­lights with play­ers in color­ful uni­forms.

The league has been posited as a cel­e­bra­tion of the new In­dia: brash, con­fi­dent, cos­mopoli­tan and rolling in money from a decade­long eco­nomic boom.

[Na­tional sport as a sign of cul­tural change. Guess that ex­plains the mon­ster truck rally at­mos­phere seen at pro games in the U.S. th­ese days.]

In­dian liquor baron Vi­jay Mallya flew in the Red­skins cheer­lead­ers to boost his team, which he named af­ter one of his whiskeys — the Ban­ga­lore Royal Chal­lengers. Other team own­ers flew in troops of danc­ing beau­ties from East­ern Europe.

For a brief mo­ment all was good. They whirled and bounced and cheered. Miniskirts flared and pom­poms shook as cricket play­ers bat­ted balls out of the park.

[Un­for­tu­nately for the cheer- lead­ers and whiskey sales­men, the coun­try isn’t com­pletely “cos­mopoli­tan” yet]:

The back­lash be­gan in Mumbai [two weeks ago] when law­mak­ers from the Hindu na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party pressed to get cheer­lead­ers banned from the home games of the lo­cal team, the Mumbai In­di­ans.

“See the pic­tures of th­ese girls in the news­pa­pers? This is not some­thing you can al­low inside your house, or some­thing that you can look at in the pres­ence of your sis­ter or daugh­ter,” said Nitin Gad­kari, the Bharatiya Janata Party's pres­i­dent for the state of Ma­ha­rash­tra. Mumbai is its cap­i­tal.

“It may be a good thing for Amer­ica, for the U.S.A., it's not a good thing for In­dia, for our kind of cul­ture,” Gad­kari said.

— “At cricket event, U.S. cheer­lead­ers shake In­dia's con­ser­va­tive val­ues,” As­so­ci­ated Press ar­ti­cle posted April 30 at sport­sil­lus­trated.com

Cul­tural im­pe­ri­al­ism’s new uni­form. Amer­i­can cheer­lead­ers in In­dia

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