“In India, cricket is religion, and Sachin is a God”
Just as Mahendra Singh Dhoni permanently fixed India’s name in the annuls of cricketing history on the eventful night of April 2, 2011, a huge, overwhelmingly euphoric and uncontrolably exuberant outburst took over the nation. Thousands of people, who sat in front of the television sets biting their nails for the ultimate moment suddenly jumped up, shouted, screamed and hugged each other. They came out on the streets, with or without the tricolour, enthusiastic and absolutely crazy about the national team’s success. As the team lifted the Cup, the BCCI announced huge rewards for all the players, and the President of the country invited the players and the family for a dinner. In simple words, in every nook and corner of the country people went mad. Absolutely mad. At this time of pomp, certain questions come to the mind.
My first question is, what is the reason or rather the origin of such madness regarding cricket? What incites this unprecedented burst of nationalism, which is rare in any other sector of society? Why don’t we see cent percent polling in the country? Why don’t we see constructive initiatives in a large scale on occasions such as Republic Day, Independence Day, or any other significant occasion? And even talking about sports, why didn’t the country cheer like this when Abhinav Bindra secured a Gold medal in Olympics? Were his efforts less nationalistic? Why doesn’t the government take drastic undertakings to uplift football in the country?
Secondly, is the creation of this mass hysteria concerning cricket, completely devoid of any market forces, the brain-children of several strong multinationals, which make abnormally large profits by sponsoring the matches, putting umpteen numbers of ads in between the live telecast of matches, and of course making you drink coloured carbonated water! I mean to ask if somehow our nationalistic feelings regarding cricket are merely a planned outburst of the commercial viability of our feelings. And again bringing in sports, why do we Indians, even though we don’t have a national team playing in FIFA world cup go mad about the cup and buy Adidas and Nike t-shirts officially made for this occasion. Is it because, it is somehow “fed” into our brains by the media that getting involved in the FIFA world cup is the next best thing in the world than attaining Nirvana! It simply emphasises once again the profit making hub that our country is in the hands of the big powerful corporate companies, in this world of corporate monopoly. On one side of the fence are the average Indian people, poor, middle class, who come home early from offices, ladies who complete their household tasks beforehand and prepare to watch the matches, children who bunk schools and colleges, unemployed youth who have nothing better than to follow match analysis, and old men who are too tired do anything other than sit on the bed and watch a match. On the other side of this fence you have greedy corporate crocodiles who make full use of these sentiments and lap up their profits from this fertile market.
And thirdly, why on earth was Poonam Pandey, a model who promised to strip for the Indian team if it wins the World Cup finals against Sri Lanka, dragged to court on the grounds of “showing Brahmins in poor light”? Do the people who registered the FIR, mean to say that keeping all other circumstances same, a strip tease is justified if performed by a girl of lower caste? And yes, does this lady want to say that our cricketers are lusty dogs who will fight and win the match to see her skin? Shouldn’t someone question her on this?
Perhaps the trouble with us is that we lack a definition of the good and the bad. We are a nation lost and torn in between certain identities and decisions. We have developed as a nation where people who don’t know anything about the nation’s freedom struggle will comment on the differences between Gandhiji and Bhagat Singh, compare Nehru and Jinnah, where a novel is only judged by its “lightness” and of course the rank in the best sellers list and a movie by the box office rates, where the study of arts has taken a back seat and a historically and artistically blank generation is coming to the fore and of course where you find people who don’t know the full terms and condition of the Lok Janpal screaming out their ignorant support for Anna Hazare. The common man has suddenly become so busy in materialistic pursuits to make ends meet, that ethics, morality, values and the thinking nature have taken a back seat.
Perhaps what we need is a social awakening. Perhaps we need to start thinking. Perhaps we need to start taking a stand, and Stand Up, for ourselves.