A Utopian Bio-bubble in Dystopian Time

A Utopian Bio-bubble in Dystopian Time

A Utopian Bio-bubble in Dystopian Time

Vedant Vashist
May 10, 2021

Everyone who endured the torrid times of 2020 desired 2021 to be a better year. People living in their utopian notion of ‘that as the date changes from 31st December to 1st January 2021’ all the problems will be put to hold & they will be back to being their ‘responsible self’ & that suddenly the virus will be gone for good. Alas, too naive, but unsurprising.

Amid all these ideas, the Indian cricketing team struggling to put a fit eleven was hurting themselves, hurting the opposition, winning sessions & eventually breaching the Gabbatoir after a long wait of 28 years. But wait, where was the pandemic? Where were the patients? Where were vaccines? and the most dreaded one amongst all, when will the second wave hit us?

All these questions had taken a backseat between September of last year and February this year. Our Prime Minister went on to deliver this speech at the World Economic Forum, Davos “Friends, I have brought the message of confidence, positivity, and hope from 1.3 billion Indians amid these times of apprehension… It was predicted that India would be the most affected country from corona all over the world. It was said that there would be a tsunami of corona infections in India, somebody said 700-800 million Indians would get infected while others said 2 million Indians would die.”

All of it appeared too good to be true. As it had not been a year when we were under lockdown and the only things that were shifting were the migrants towards their hometown, air quality index towards the double-figure, and the number of cases in the upward direction. People were able to see the Himalayas from Jalandhar, but the government was not able to see the second wave. Perhaps Myopia was one of the reasons or perhaps maintaining that brittle PR image of the supreme leader. We will never know but we all know, don’t we?

With everything shut during lockdown i.e., protests, cinema & sports. The only thing that was running was the ticker about the controversy surrounding the death of Sushant Singh Rajput & one news ‘journo’ shouting. Amidst all of this, we heard rumors of IPL being taken out of India to the land of the Sheikhs & skyscrapers, UAE, and people in India heard, for the very first time, of Bio-bubbles. It was agreed that BCCI would ensure a bio bubble is being maintained by every franchise for their players while the IPL was going on.

With IPL being organized in the UAE, an average cricket enthusiast delighted over the fact that they will finally be able to watch live sport after watching endless marathons of India’s campaigns of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. It was time for something fresh, something which in some months to come will be on the nerves of everyone.

IPL 2020 came as a surprise since no one expected it to happen. But that is the USP of our nation, we do things which no one anticipates us to do, elect a fascist government in 2014, re-electing them again in 2019, making sure we don’t wear masks properly even after witnessing the consequences, making sure we violate the lockdown and go out. We as a nation are rebellious. 

With players under strict quarantine, no fans allowed in the first half of the tournament & players realizing the dynamics of prolonged stay in the bio-bubble and its fatigue. IPL was played in a ‘Dystopian bio-bubble in a Utopian (not literally, figuratively) country’. With players for the first time in a decade being dictated terms and not the other way around. The 2020 edition brought a sense of relief to the cricket enthusiasts around the globe, it allowed them to rejuvenate, and no one questioned, why are we appreciating it.

Even though players, as well as support staff, were tested positive for COVID. But nobody seemed to care about the efficacy of ‘secure bio-bubble’. IPL 2020 was held far away from the mainland & it did not let us for a minute ponder over what was ensuing in the country. We were certainly lucky that we never witnessed what Italy or the USA did. We were let off easy, maybe India, the land of gods, had its ways with god or maybe we did defeat the virus.

IPL 2020 was interestingly dedicated to ‘Covid Warriors’. We saw players applauding them for their invaluable contribution & also donning Jersey’s with covid warriors’ names on them. The 2020 edition was at least empathetic even if it was only for the sake of PR. But, this year with IPL being held at 6 venues (Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru), with no spectators or media personnel allowed, it felt as if the country had returned to normalcy. We were prepared, we had vaccines, ‘infrastructure’ & a ‘reliable’ government.

The second wave & the IPL started hand in hand as if lovers were united post lockdown. It would be prudent to say that the second wave had more spectators as compared to IPL. For once in fourteen years somebody had questioned the hegemony of IPL. Of the 6 venues, Mumbai and Delhi were the worst hit by the second wave. In no time, the second wave had more prey to it than the total dismissals in the tournament. 

We can say, the idea for this edition was it would be played in a ‘Utopian Bio-bubble in a Dystopian world’. Alas, after 4 weeks & 29 matches finally came to terms with the dystopian world & soon enough IPL was suspended. What might have come as a shock was well appreciated by pundits & the fans. 

In truth, IPL for some was their happy place with all the travesty that was unwinding in the world, they were aloof to it for those 3 hours, or maybe for some, it was a travesty taking place along with all that was happening in the country. Sadly, this edition if not for cricket, should be remembered as it gave someone hope, some light, or maybe some respite & to some, it was despair, darkness, and anxiety. This edition was a mixed bag of emotions for people across the country.

Finally, it was suspended indefinitely for good or bad but the images of people running in the hospital for oxygen or players gasping for air while fielding in hot & humid Chennai, to shortage of essential medicines to making sure that players will be vaccinated during the IPL to images of bodies at Nigambodh Ghat in New Delhi or floodlights burning the ground during the match does draw a poignant image & raises a serious question ‘whether it was really necessary to host this year’s IPL in India?’

Author Vedant Vashist Final Year law student, Law Centre I, University of Delhi.
(The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author/s. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Policy Observer or our members.)

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