Remember the 90s? Yes, the same era when Colour TVs had started replacing the humble black and whites, Dish antennas started dotting the skylines of Indian towns, when economic liberalization by PV Narasimha Rao suddenly made us ‘brand conscious’. We started winning beauty pageants and new age industrialists started challenging the might of the established ones. But without remembering the Indian cricket team of the 90s, it’s impossible to remember what I call the most resilient decade for the country.
The Indian Cricket Team of the 90s had some stars, some average performers and some outright burdens. Sachin Tendulkar outshone the rest, it was often his performance that steered the team through, even managed to win some championship trophies. Once Sachin was gone, the long tail of the Indian team got exposed. You would recall a lone Robin Singh bravely fighting till the last ball to either win the match by a whisker or lose it by a mile. What was wrong with our cricket team back then? In one word, I’d say – the team had their basics all messed up.
It was an unfit team, an undisciplined squad and a highly factionalized unit. It was a loose coalition of warring camps. Mohammad Azharuddin, the stylish wristy batsman was more of a politician than a cricketer. He broke the team into factions, there was no team spirit left after that. And that’s precisely what is wrong with the Hindus of Today.
What Azharuddin did to the team is exactly what congress and secular parties have done to the Hindus. They factionalized us. The vote bank politics unleashed by Congress and other secular parties that political pundits like to call social engineering, turned us into a loose coalition of warring units. Take the tussles between Jats and Meenas, Brahmins and Kshatriyas, Patels and non-Patels, Lingayats and Vokkaligas, Yadavs and Non-Yadavs, Kammas and Kapus, Dalits and Upper Castes for example. All of these caste groups worship the same god, celebrate the same festivals and have the same ideology but they have been pitted against each other by the anti-Hindu forces. The ordinary Hindu of today identifies more with his caste or regional faction than with the united cause of Hindutva. An attack on a perceived antagonistic caste group is either ignored or downplayed by the other. This is exactly what the other teams used to do in the 90s, attack the individual factions and beat the whole team.
The match fixing episode of 2000 was a blot on the Indian cricket team. With high profile names like Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia and former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin being a part of the fixing gate, Indian cricket was slowly becoming a lost cause. The fans had lost faith in the team and every century or missed chance or boundary or wicket started to be looked at with suspicion. Then came Sourav Ganguly, he brought discipline, unity and a killer spirit in the broken and dilapidated team. And he started doing it by dissolving the factions.
The team suddenly stopped depending on individual performances. This is something PM Modi did in 2014 when Hindus merged all the factions to elect him as the prime minister. Suddenly caste faultlines began to diminish. But Ganguly had to take care of just 11 men and PM Modi has to take care of over a billion. Needless to say PM Modi’s job is tougher and the team needs to fix their basics first, give up factionalism and start playing like a unit.
The only solution that I think is viable is being culturally right, every other right is merely a subset of it. The culture of a country decides its politics, the politics of the country decides its defence and economy. Fix culture and everything else gets fixed automatically. Hindus don’t have a Sunday Mass or a Friday prayer which is both its beauty and its weakness. Hindus have more atheists as compared to any other religion. In fact, no other faith, so much as allows atheism. It is not cool to be an atheist in times when religion has become the central theme. When they come for you, only your surname will decide your identity. Every Hindu needs to wear their religion on their sleeves, they need to visit temples, they need to work on their Sanskrit, they need to share pics of their poojas and they need to be with their coreligionists.
Mobs fear mobs. And you can’t be a mob unless you identify yourself with your teammates. You can call it mob mentality; I’d call it Shakti Pradarshan. When Shiv Sainiks walked on Mumbai roads in early 90s, even the D company cowered with fear.
So, our team is all broken, its basics are all fuzzy, Azharuddins of politics have left us factionalised. The Ganguly of politics is working but we need to help ourselves and unite under one banner, and that banner is saffron in colour and it’s called Hindutva.