Monthly Archives: April 2011

what ‘the world cup’ meant to india

My Guest Column at The Viewspaper

05 – A reason to hug strangers

When was the last time you saw frenzied crowd on the road, completely lost under the spirit of being an Indian (some even draped under the  Indian National Flag) hugging each other irrespective of caste, creed, economic status and (let me put in capital letters) RELIGION. Well not many events can bring the entire nation on the street and most of them that have in recent history, have been events of national sorrow (the 26/11 attack on Mumbai) or events of national anger (the Jessica Lal murder case).

So a moment of national joy was long in coming and when it finally did, the whole nation erupted in a jubilation that was neither limited by narrow mindedness nor curtailed by self proclaimed moral police. As high fives were exchanged, bike rallies were organized, the Tricolor was carried in ceremonial processions throughout the city the nationalism that has long been subdued for the want of a suitable occasion, engulfed all the barriers and the differences that petty politics have drawn in the last 62 years. The spirit of being an Indian had finally arrived.

04 – ‘Unity in Diversity’ beyond textbooks

Ever since they were kids, they had read “Unity in Diversity” is India’s greatest strength but everything that they observed around them was completely in contrast thereafter. From religion and caste based politics to regionalism, an average Indian had seen it all to the extent that he had started believing that the whole concept of teaching “Unity in Diversity” at school and murdering the same all throughout adulthood was actually a practical way of elucidating irony!

And then, they met fifteen guys, who had put their religion, their region and their reservations aside and came out on the field with the Tricolor on their heart. They mouthed the National Anthem before the beginning of every match with pride and together they played with that pride on their sleeves. And they, in their group huddle, belief and respect on each other, defeated the propaganda of many who had divided and re divided India for personal benefits.

A popular Facebook quote read “A Chandigarh lad and a Delhi guy playing under a Jharkhand Captain won the world cup for us and dedicated it to a Marathi legend. Dear Raj Thackery, your idea of regionalism has failed. Jai ho” Make no mistake. ‘Raj Thackery’ here is just a metaphor. It represents a thought, not a person.

03 – Hope

All that I had to say in this section has been beautifully portrayed by this ad:

I am sure you will agree that Pepsi was not trying to be prophetic when they created this ad way back in 2007 when we crashed out of the world cup. What they knew, however, is that Indians can never ever hope enough for the cricket world cup. No matter whether we are the favorites or not, no matter whether we have our best team or not, no matter whether the odds are stacked in favor or against, every Indian has welcomed the cricket world cup in the last 28 years with a single hope – Victory. Like a trapeze artist who leaps with an unending faith on his/her partner, he has taken the leap of faith in every world cup with an unending faith on his playing eleven. No matter how bad we crash out, his power to hope has not taken the slightest of the dent, for he has been back for the next edition with a new playing eleven to cheer for and a new hope to nurse.

And when a hope of that magnitude (1 billion people, 28 years) comes true, boy, what a feeling!

02 – A true leader

It has been some time since we had a leader who was bold enough to follow his heart (dropping Ashwin from the attack after two successful outings) and yet humble enough to accept his mistakes (“We read the pitch wrong” – Mohali 2011), a leader who understands his strength and his weakness, a leader who keeps his cool when things aren’t going as you would expect them to, a leader who inspires (in the most crucial of the games, in the most critical of a situation he decides to face the situation head on rather than sit in the dressing room), a leader who accepts the responsibility of a hundred billion eyes pinned at him with hope and delivers.

This world cup gave India and many of its self-proclaimed leaders a true leader to emulate. This nation, which has so long suffered under the spineless politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and aged reformers, needed a role model badly and with this world cup win and the fashion in which it was won; MS Dhoni just provided them with one.

Below is one of the best World Cup ads that I came across (Please notice the usage of the phrase ‘Dhoni Ki India’). What I loved about the ad, among the many others that were aired during that time, was the folksong type music. That set it refreshingly apart. Glad that it was Doordarshan after a really long time!

01 – A bridge between the two India’s

More than anything else, this win was a bridge between the ‘Potential India’ and the ‘Able India’. My whole generation has grown up hearing that India is a potential super power. And we have waited patiently for that day to come. Note the word ‘patiently’ in the previous line – the sole reason why that day has not arrived yet! In our patience, we have let out newspapers to be dominated by news of corruption, poverty and unending misery. We have let ourselves to be fooled by various political and non political antics that promise us of golden days ahead but give us nothing in return (except for a few freebies during the state and national elections). We have forgotten that we have the right to dream.

And then we saw a man who has toiled for 21 years and 5 world cups uncork a champagne bottle in jubilation, taking generous gulps from the same as he ran around like a child. And his smile reassured a hundred billion people that you cannot have a dream that is impossible enough to tire you. In the realization of his dream, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar ignited many a people who had long forgotten the power of dreams.

The next day all the newspapers were dominated by a success story – a success story that was strong enough to push all other stories of corruption, poverty, violence and misery out of the headlines into the smaller labyrinths of the newspaper. And that was symbolic of the times to come.

The bridge between the ‘Potential India’ (India were the favorites to start with) and the ‘Able India’ (World Cup Cricket Champions 2011) for once was bridged and I am sure it will continue to inspire many others to create fresh uncharted paths between these two Indias.

And hence, I disagree to believe that this was just a win. This win, in fact, was symbolic of a whole generation awakening to the fact that we have finally arrived!