Will The Indian Cricket Team Wear Saffron Jerseys Now?
With this surge of the so-called ‘Modi Wave’, a post-2014 India has seen a lot of unexpected and unprecedented events happen, one after the other. We, as the public, as the mitron of the PM, have gracefully (sometimes otherwise) accepted and have been receptive to all of these.
This phenomenon, easily categorized as the propaganda of this government, pervades all political as well as non-political talks in the country, having many names: while some vent their opposing beliefs calling it ‘saffron terror’, while some compare Modi to Nehru with a notional political attempt to unite India, while some term it the right-wing overhaul and some slip it off as majoritarian tyranny, while some give it various religious names - commonly naming it communal politics or Hindutva-related names, some call it the need of the hour or game-changer, some call it bold politics by calling PM Modi a lion, and amidst all these names and tags, the commonality remains that the State has successfully managed to find its way into each genre of conversation. Perhaps, the propaganda is working well?
For years now, we have grown up hearing stories of the emergency, its declaration and the horrors that followed. Indira Gandhi, for all the critics and the pundits, has been an exemplary figure that has redefined the extremism in Indian political scenario. Most of us have believed that perhaps this had been the boldest step a PM would take. However, to the contrary, the last two years have surprised us, not once or twice, but enough for surprises to be unsurprising anymore.
To begin with, the BJP attaining sweeping majority by itself in the Lok Sabha elections and Modi’s eloquent speeches provoked people’s expectations and speculated that this is the start of something special, if not unusual. The cabinet mix with Smriti Irani, the DU courses issue that followed, and those unforgettable numerous foreign tours (perpetual rather) raised eyebrows calling it unusual, unexpected or baffling. The masses questioned the government’s actions and intentions. Who knew, that was just the trailer, or rather only the teaser, for a blockbuster movie to follow over the years, with twists and turns when you least expect them.
A post-Diwali present by PM Modi in the form of demonetizing currency notes worth 500 and 1000 was a shocker. It managed to impact people across societies, class, religion and region. Interestingly, the unexpected bomb drop seems to have its after-effects even today, and as speculated, will continue to do so. The nation was shocked, and stumped in long lines at ATMs and Banks, as they literally went cashless in the pursuit of eventually going cashless. Too harsh? Maybe, maybe not.
It was following a surgical strike at the national border, secretly executed and one that secretly touched each nerve and united the entire nation against the terrorism it was fighting, with a new sense of patriotism. The immense praise for this daring move, in conjunction with the criticism of the possibility of this being a false set up, and the accusation that it overshadowed all the other ongoing issues at once: and the public was in awe of the government, their initiative and their courage, rather surprised, some pleasantly and some otherwise. The patriotism didn’t end there, as the cinema halls became a place where standing for the anthem before a movie was made a compulsion. It was surprising, only to few, that the same government that arose the sense of patriotism, was now enforcing it, rather forcing it, in a different way. For the others, this was just another one of the government’s way of being (over)paternalistic.
This air of nationalism was a product of the trending JNU protests, and the trend that initiated the buzz words of ‘anti-national’ and ‘sedition’. The central government clamped down hard upon this issue. Their approach was evidently aggressive, opening a plethora of debates. Perhaps, the most instigative of the lot of measures that the Sarkar has taken.
Recently, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the CM of Uttar Pradesh has attracted applause, whilst also raising eyebrows for a step so bold. The stunning sweeping victory in the elections itself was another talking point, which hauled praises for such a unique performance, alongside getting analysts to decimate the political strategy. Were any of these recent events as surprising, or are we immune to the idea of surprises?
With the constant overarching state structure and the excessively surprising actions of the central government over the last 2 years, some intrusive and some excessive, some surprising and some indiscreet, we have normalised our outlook to any form of extremism. Time and again, the government has set a precedence for itself that it can take certain actions, as the state, which we have learnt to accept. We, as the public, have internalized the idea of anything happening, so much so, that the nothing big happening at Modi’s New-Year’s eve address, was a surprise in itself. For years now, the masses have complained that the government doesn’t do enough, and now the tables have turned. There is a new redefinition to “too much” or “to little”, which we can only speculate and wait to discover.
As we are gradually getting so comfortable with the Lotus and the orange/saffron colour, how far away are we from easily accepting the Indian Cricket team having an Orange Jersey? Since coloured clothing took over One-Day cricket and since India united itself with the religion of cricket, we are known to associate the game with the blue jersey, as the nation claims to bleed-in-blue. Are we going to bleed orange soon? Is this prospect of an orange jersey too bold a step; too much to think of? Can anything at all be considered too bold a step anymore? Or are we already blindfolded by the propaganda that an Orange Jersey, or another bomb-drop, will just be another regular day? The concrete answer to this lies in what comes next, and show shocked or prepared we are. Until then, all we can do is associate the clichés like ‘expect the unexpected’ or ‘predict the unpredictable’ with the government, and its actions.
(The writer is a student at Jindal Global Law School)