Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cricket, Bangladesh and Uri


Strikingly, Modi is proving to be a far more responsible person in office than he appeared to be while campaigning during the 2014 general elections. All-out war is not his priority. Jingoism too is missing in his utterances. But we do expect him to take the battle into the Paki camp. The nation wants action. Too many of our soldiers have died while defending the nation’s borders. It is time to make Paki soldiers die for their country. Only then can we win the war. How to achieve this? Over to you, Mr. Prime Minister.

WHAT’s common between Cricket, Bangladesh, and Uri? No, I am not on any brain-addling drug binge, nor have I finally tipped over into the bonkerland. The thought occurred to me while watching the media talk-shows discussing the terror attack on Uri. War drums were sounded and bugles were blown. Short of rolling howitzers into the studios the media warriors yodeled war cries with the assiduity of true armchair patriots. Those sane, hesitant voices counseling cooler minds remained hesitant for fear of being dubbed anti-national. Actually, India is one place where you can easily be labeled a traitor and anti-national whether you aspire for the sobriquets or not. Hence the collective baying for the enemy’s blood.

Before you start wagging your finger at me let me admit that the Uri outrage was as outrageous, if not more, as the Pathankot attack, the 26/11, or the Parliament attack, or… well, I must have made the point by now. Of course, when the Congress was in power, the BJP and its sister outfits had gone into patriotic overdrive. 56” chests were thumped, bangles were offered, and generally the ‘inaction’ was berated. Now it is the turn of the Congress to pay back in the same coin, but they do not have the necessary histrionic talent. Not that they aren’t expressing outrage over the Modi Government’s inaction. They are! But the language is not as colorful. The histrionics a bit too underwhelming.

Now, the moot question is whether the Modi Government has erred in not sending in the army to Islamabad and spanking sense into the rogue Pak Army Generals there? Isn’t Mr. Modi incensed over thumbing of the nose by that rat across the border, which we let out of our clutches during Mr. Vajpayee’s regime, which should have been squashed and thrown into the nearest trash-bin by now? I am sure, he must be truly incensed. But, perhaps, he is learning hands-on that you cannot spank Paki Generals, no matter how roguish they are, by casually sauntering across the border. Because you just cannot saunter across the border just like that. They too have guys with broad chests and armed to the teeth too.

This is where Indian Cricket’s history comes in handy. There was a time when we were the punching bags for just about any test playing nation. But, it was Pakistan that held us in utter contempt. More than once their top players had described our cricketers as timid. Match after match we played like losers or, at best, confirmed underdogs. Then arrived Kapil Dev on the Indian cricketing firmament. Aggressive and full of self-belief, he began talking to the Pakis in the language they understood – bouncer for bouncer and sixer for sixer. The attitude in the Indian team too began changing. Saurav Ganguly took it to an entirely different level, and not just because he waved his shirt like a pennant. If Kapil depended upon aggressive play on the field to hit back, Ganguly combined his aggressive play with a verbal assault that would make even the likes of Javed Miandad blush and fumble for an appropriate response. More importantly, Ganguly focused on picking the best cricketing talent available in the country, without fear and favor. For the first time, young cricketers from small towns and the ‘hinterland’ got into the team in a big way. Ganguly hammered them into the most potent war machine Indian Cricket had acquired until then. The underdog tag was tossed into history’s trash-bin for good. This war machine became truly lethal during Dhoni’s time, and India became natural topdogs in the shorter forms of cricket as well as a powerhouse in test cricket.

This journey from being confirmed underdogs to becoming topdogs, from the earlier perception that Indians were timid to that of now that Indians are aggressive has a lot to do with several factors. First and foremost, anger at the being global underdogs. Then the positive urge to get rid of this label and prove your mettle, and finally the vision and patience to reach that stage.

India has come a long way from being Asia’s ‘basket case’ to its present status as a respectable power with economic and military muscle. This journey began during Lal Bahadur Shastri’s time who, like Kapil Dev in cricket, believed in hitting back strong and hard at the enemy. The nation, nay the world, sat up and took notice of this diminutive giant. Indira Gandhi took it to the next level. When the Bangladesh crisis began to hurt India’s interests, she showed immense patience and vision in building global consensus against the depredations of Yahya Khan’s hordes. Simultaneously, she gave the Indian military the time and latitude they required to prepare for the inevitable. Thus, when the time was ripe, it took a mere fortnight to facilitate Bangladesh’s birth through caesarean operation, that left the world stunned, and Nixon and Co. mouthing obscenities in frustration. So, like Ganguly, Indira Gandhi instilled a new sense of self-belief in the nation.

The trouble with Pakistan is that civilization has passed them by. Their medieval culture, combined with a street bully’s mindset, impels them to do things that are patently suicidal and, collaterally, dangerous to the rest of the world. Time and again, they have tested the Indian nation’s patience. Time and again, we have shown unprecedented forbearance and fortitude. Encouraged by India’s perceived ‘timidity’ and armed with Chinese and American weaponry, Pakis now are ratcheting up terror activities on a global scale, with India remaining the prime focus. Of course, the Saudi Arab support, too, is boosting its thug instincts.


Strikingly, Modi is proving to be a far more responsible person in office than he appeared to be while campaigning during the 2014 general elections. All-out war is not his priority. Jingoism too is missing in his utterances. But we do expect him to take the battle into the Paki camp. Will it be through Baluchistan, Baltistan or Sind as he appeared to indicate in his I-Day speech? Perhaps a Dhoni-style ‘helicopter shot’ that will demolish the enemy comprehensively and forever, will be more welcome. The nation does not want staid promises. It wants action. Too many of our soldiers have died while defending the nation’s borders against infiltration by Paki terrorists. It is time to make the Paki soldiers die for their country. Only then can we win the war. How to achieve this? Over to you, Mr. Prime Minister.
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