How would you react if I said that I don’t back Team India as the strongest contender for this year’s World Cup trophy? Will you treat me as a traitor or question my patriotism if I say teams like Australia, Sri Lanka and arch-rivals Pakistan deserve to be the world champions more than us?
Is it essential to root for our national side to prove my loyalty to the nation I am born and brought up in? Why can’t I simply cheer for any team, which is superior to others in its performance?
It’s not that I have a dislike for our national side. Like millions, I am also a big fan of MSD and his warriors and I hope that they would bring back World Cup glory as India did under the captaincy of our legendry all rounder Kapil Dev in 1983. The pressure on Team India and, especially Sachin, is quite understandable since this will surely be the last World Cup in which this God of cricket will be seen live in action.
After a spectacular opening ceremony in Bangladesh, Team India’s World Cup tour has got off to a flier as it registered an emphatic win over the co-host nation by 87 runs, setting the tone and raised expectations that our national side will do much better.
Thanks to the larger than life coverage of this mega cricketing event, the on-going Cricket World Cup has undoubtedly become the talk of the town. The enormous support which Dhoni’s men have been getting, does not stem-out of the fact that they have beaten Bangladesh – a comparatively weak team which toppled our national side in the first match of the previous World Cup - but because of the fact that we have the strongest batting line up in the world.
Sachin’s performance in the match against England was commendable and shows what makes him great. But the Bell decision will remain controversial and may have cost us one point.
So, it’s no big deal if everyone from the country’s remote villages to those monitoring the ups and downs of our national economy at the Dalal Street is rooting for Team India. It is for this reason that India is every bookie’s favourite bet. With sponsorship deals and brand endorsements, big corporate houses have showered enough praise on our cricketers and further set the fervour of the game.
The madness in this cricket crazy nation is quite understandable because of the money, glamour and stardom attached with this sport. Even before the start of the World Cup, Team India was being tipped as one of strongest contenders to win the prestigious trophy. However, these are not the sole reasons why I should go gaga about our national side’s prospect in this tournament.
Like our team, there are many others like South Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia and England which too have pace bowlers and dependable batsmen having the potential to upset any equation in crucial matches. So, why do I have to cheer for our own team even if it shatters our hopes for winning a World Cup?
See, this is not a question of putting patriotism up your sleeves. I think, I have the full freedom to cheer for any team or any side participating not only in this World Cup but in any other sporting event.
Sports bring nations closer and spread peace and tranquillity. It must be looked upon from the sole angle of entertainment and it should not be used as a tool for gauging a person’s love for the nation. For showing gratitude to the nation, it’s not important to turn up with coloured faces, wave your national flag and cheer for your side.
And do you think your duty towards your motherland ends by doing all these things?
There are many other ways to express your gratitude to the nation and we can do great service to our country by doing little things that will actually make a difference.
We all know that corruption is at its peak now and this virus of the land has slowly spread its roots into our political and bureaucratic system. Those in power have freely plundered taxpayers’ money. And the sad part is that we as a nation have come to live with it, live with the fact that corruption is so pervasive in India that it is now impossible to detach this stigma from our country’s psyche.
So, is it not time to raise our voice against the evils of our society? Is it not the time to use our intelligence and resources available to us for changing the lives of millions of our brethren who struggle every day for arranging two square meals a day?
For me a real patriot would be one who dies for the nation like Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Constable Tukaram Omble, ATS chief Hemant Karkare etc who made supreme sacrifices for the nation. For me a real patriot would be like Satyendra Dubey, the young NHAI engineer and whistleblower, who was murdered after he exposed corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway project in Bihar.
In the true sense a real patriot would be one, who takes pain in filing a RTI application, while being fully aware of the consequences of his actions. The usually unsung and unknown ordinary people, who are often by mistreated by the high and mighty for daring to challenge them, are the real heroes. Those who, despite their foreign degrees, chose to stay in India and contribute to the country’s progress, and people like the abducted young District Collector of Orissa, who risked his life by deciding to work in the Naxal-infested region, are the real sons of mother India.
Several NGOs, which work with the sole aim of protecting our endangered wildlife, run educational institutions in remote villages to empower people, spread awareness and make them responsible citizens deserve more than us the tag of being real Indians.
Rather than doing anything constructive, we have developed a habit of cursing the system for all that ails it. Those who mean business go about taking care of stray animals, street children or impoverished older citizens without fuss or fanfare. They do not either wait for government agencies to come and take stock of the situation or to recognise their work, instead they become the pioneers. It is not that they always win in their pursuit for the lost causes, but even if they lose, they fulfil their duties with courage and conviction and a strong sense of contentment that they have repaid, to some extent, the debt they owe to their motherland.
So, I base my cheering for the World Cup on the above said stream of thought, hoping that if we don’t win, maybe we’d open our eyes to some bigger challenges than hunting for cricket or movie tickets.