A Nation Goes Berserk

Yes the men in blue (or rather we, as one would believe) did it after 28 years, and perhaps in doing so absolved themselves of all the ills of the past –somewhat like taking a dip in the Ganges, which is said to absolve the Hindus of their sins (despite its high level of pollution). All Indians are indeed proud to be part of this momentous occasion. After coming to a standstill for a day (nay two), the nation paid a standing ovation to the men in blue. The victory of the World Cup belongs to each one of us, but so do the stark problems plaguing our country. Cricket has suddenly become synonymous with patriotism. Gautam Gambhir felt that the win against Pakistan was a win against terrorism and divisive forces. And as I write this piece, the TV channels are drawing a parallel between the winning of the World Cup and the defeat of Ravana at the hands of Sri Ram, centuries ago.

TV channels are going overboard in comparing Sachin Tedulkar to Sri Ram, comparing a cricket tournament to a fight between good and evil, with obviously the Indian team being the good side.

The opium of cricket has lulled our senses to the extent of becoming senseless. One team has been personified as a terrorist outfit and another as the evil offspring of Ravana. Jai Ho! Or maybe my perceptions are not as sensible as the rest of the Bharat Mahan. I thought that the cricketers were paid to play cricket to the best of their ability, just like you or me are paid by our employers to do our respective jobs well. But every time our cricket team wins a so called major match, freebies are showered upon them like confetti. Already announcements have been made by various state governments to load them materially (the Central government has announced a reward of Rs 1 crore to each player), houses and other gifts.

We have indeed come a long way from my student days in a convent school, where we were taught that modesty and humility were the best virtues and that winning/success was its own reward. Our Irish nuns (God bless them!) instilled in us to accept success with grace and failure with aplomb. But, perhaps I am talking of an era gone by. Now from early childhood parents try to develop what is called the killer instinct in their children—be it in the field of sports, studies or performing arts. Each move/step is made with the sole and only purpose of making more money. But a killer instinct can only kill. It has already killed the true spirit of sports, and for that matter, the joy of working. It has forced us to forge official documents/marks-sheets; to plagiarize research papers; to cheat/leak out papers in examinations; even to fake our identities at times; to give and take bribes; to oppress the downtrodden.

So, as Sachin walks on tons of flowers which reportedly have been strewn up to his doorsteps; as he and his team mates are smothered by mounds of currency notes; as the political powers vie with each other to shower monetary benefits on them for doing their job well (which they were paid for doing anyway); let the rest of us go about our business honestly and truthfully. Many of us might not have won an international event, yet we are equally (if not more) patriotic and our mothers too have reasons to be proud of us, as long as we are not inhumanly drunk with power and wealth.

Let us also not forget to pay homage to cardiologist Dr BP Singh of Lucknow, who was riddled with bullets, while on his morning walk, on the same day when India won the Cup, as he was reportedly trying to root out the corruption rampant in the department of Family Planning and Welfare.

I remember the last line of the classic 'Gone with the Wind' - Tomorrow will be another day. I hope it would be a better one, for the millions who do not have a roof over their head and very little inside their stomachs, and also for those who seem to be fighting a losing battle against corruption and nepotism - the World Cup notwithstanding. They are my true heroes.

Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS) and also serves as the Director of CNS Diabetes Media Initiative (CNS-DMI).She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)