We finally won the world up after a gap of 23 years. It was an amazing feeling watching Dhoni hit the last six, almost imperiously to seal the win. With it came the usual fawning over the team. And the realization that had we lost, the whole country would have been ready to kill these poor guys – whose average age is 26 – if you count out Tendulkar.
Cricket has always been a big unifier in this big and diverse country of ours. It brings together people together across the class, socio-economic, regional, cultural and religious hierarchies. And the celebration was a microcosm of that. The picture you see above says it all – a Sikh, a Muslim, a Hindu lifting the idol of India on their shoulders.
World Cup championship aside, India continues to be a mind-bafflingly complicated country. Two weeks after national celebrations after India won the world cup, Anna Hazare, that venerable Gandhian that, those of us who grew up in India, have heard about peripherally in the context of different social movements, went on a hunger strike to death to protest against the all-pervasive corruption in our country. The government (all all governments are, now a days), fearful of a fierce public backlash relented to let non-politicians lead the committee for finally institutionalizing the anti-corruption Lokpal bill.
It amazes me how India works sometimes. There are moments of pure idealism, symbolized by the nation-wide euphoric celebrations on India winning the World Cup and the extreme cynicism that predated the agrement between Anna Hazare and the government comprised of mostly corrupt career politicians.
But the diversity of reactions exemplifies the diversity of this grand country of ours. It is really a circus, like Times of India says in its latest commercial. But its beautiful in its chaos. Eventually, like it always has, it works. And its infinitely more desirable than a contrived order of a country like China.
You cant really look and judge India through the logical western prism. ( Churchill, that racist and condescending Brit – who is now looked as some kind of saint for being anti-Nazi – as if he had a choice – tried. And he was unbelievably wrong.). India, really is an idea. A beautiful idea. A billion people of all stripes, cultures and religions. Living (mostly) peacefully in the largely democratic circus the world has ever seen. (my favorite quote: The difference between the Indian and American democracies – In India, the poor actually vote). India is a beautiful idea – because its been invaded over and over again throughout its existence. Yet, it remains, a country that is hugely diverse and tolerant. It is surrounded by countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh – and yet, India remains like it always has been.
Cricket (and the celebrations) are just a manifestation. India, remains, magical.