Last week, a brilliant scientist who was the lead guidance navigation and control subsystem engineer for the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars made waves. It was Dr Swati Mohan, born in Bengaluru and now a proud American working at NASA, who broke the news of the landing to the watching world. She now jokes that she had a flowchart taped to her monitor of what to say in case things had not gone ‘right’ during the touchdown. Well, mercifully it’s one speech she didn’t have to deliver at the press conference that followed the successful landing. All eyes and ears were on Mohan that day. And what drew the maximum attention when she was on screen for the dramatic announcement was a tiny detail on her forehead — the bindi! Everyone was most intrigued by that little ‘dot’ between Mohan’s brows. But for Mohan, the bindi is a part of her identity. “I am Indian as much as I am American,’’ she said, adding quickly that she is not the only Indian on the team at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) where “everyone is respectful of each other.” The big deal surrounding her bindi, was casually put into context, when she stated, “The bindi is a part of who I am…I wasn’t making a special statement.” Dr Swati Mohan has been sporting the bindi since she was a little girl and she clearly places a great deal of value on the way her parents raised her.
One tiny little dot that says so much!
So, does size matter? Well, clearly it does to those who believe it is important to dazzle the world with something gargantuan like the world’s biggest cricket stadium. President R N Kovind inaugurated the humongous revamped Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad earlier this week, and surprise! surprise! it was promptly renamed after our beloved Prime Minister. Most appropriate, don’t you think? PM Modi is larger than life. He understands scale and upgrades. He loves all things grand and imposing like the Central Vista project. His personal taste may be humble and simple, but his vision is big. Why settle for modest when grandiose is possible, huh?
The cost of the newly christened stadium is approximately Rs 800 crore, it is spread over 63 acres, with a total area of 2.4 lakh square metres. That, according to experts, works out to 32 Olympic-size football fields put together. Not bad, huh? And yes, our wonderful president also performed a bhoomi pujan for the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Sports Enclave. Taalis! We are so fortunate to have leaders who refuse to compromise when it comes to grandeur. It’s a question of India’s image — hai, na? People will feel so impressed when they know what a sports-loving nation we are and how much we care about cricket. Yes, bhai, cricket! Not hockey, which is officially our national sport. Good, good, good. Big projects, big dreams, big ambition — all things big-big that make a nation’s chest expand and exceed fifty-six inches. No harm in allocating funds for vanity projects — please, don’t ask stupid questions like ‘whose vanity?’ It’s the nation’s vanity, baba. Not the personal vanity of any individual. You want India to be seen as a market leader or not? We must get India’s branding and positioning right, if we want to show China. Does Beijing have such a huge cricket stadium? No, na? Why spoil everything by pointing out chhota-mota stuff like the Chinese don’t play cricket. If they decide to play cricket in the future, we have to be ready to beat them, right? That too, in our stadium. See, our PM has great foresight that way. We can all sing, “Yeh hum hai, yeh hamara stadium hai, yeh hamari pawri ho rahi hai.”
Currently, our PM seems focused on being the biggest in several departments. India is wowing the world with its vaccination drive (biggest in the world). Now we have this huge cricket stadium. It’s bound to generate jealousy. Especially amongst our neighbours, and Pakistan in particular. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who once sported the captain’s cap for his country, must be burning with envy that he doesn’t have such
a magnificent cricket stadium named after him in Lahore!
Sigh, in the battle of the tiny little bindi making a gigantic global impact, versus a monstrously large stadium leaving desi citizens bewildered, it’s okay, I guess. Whichever way you look at both, one thing cannot be denied : #pawrihoraihai, mitron! Ek NASA mein, aur ek Ahmedabad mein.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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