Just two days ago, I was caught in a mad traffic jam. The men in blue had arrived after a glorious victory, with the 20-20 world cup. They were driven from the airport to the Wankhede stadium in an open van. Fans thronged the streets. Cricket fever gripped the city and jammed the roads.
Stuck there with nothing to do, I indulged in daydreaming. What if the equation changed? Imagine cricket no more being the symbol of patriotism. The symbol of patriotism would be, well, patriotism. All that passion and hero-worship would actually help transform the country.
Rather than comparing how many players have made centuries, imagine if there were world records on how many cases have been solved, or how many lives saved, or how many people employed.
Imagine, instead of Shahrukh Khan and Yuvraj, girls would go crazy about the doctor who did the first liver transplant in India or the cop who caught the beer-killer. A social activist would be made brand ambassador, and feature in ads. Awards would be given to the country with the lowest female infanticide rate.
This patriotism fever would spread. People would urge neighbours and friends to prevent aids because we gotta set a record. And every drunken driver would be attacked with the same fury reserved for any Indian who cheers Pakistan.
Magazines and news channels would feature the best teachers in the country. Or the best station masters. Etiquette would become a mandate. People would fear to litter or spit because – log kya kahenge!
The whole country would come together on the streets to plant trees, as a result of this passion. And everyone would ask – score kya huva – and mean the number of trees planted in a day!
There would be gully-cleaning. International festivals to showcase the number of new developments by each country. Money from international awards would again be put into building more roads, getting electricity and safe drinking water.
Scientists, engineers and economists would walk the red carpet, surrounded by the paparazzi. And everyone all over would want to improve his or her social and community skills. Being cultured would be the fad. Being honest would mean riches. And doing the right thing would hurl you into the arms of glamour.
Glamour. Cheering. Applause. Honk. I’m snapped back into reality. The traffic had started flowing again. The cricket team had moved on.
3 days ago