There are these promos on TV. Celebrities are telling us to root for India in the Champions Trophy: "Ooh...aah...India...aaya India". Supposed to be major emotional appeal, but ends up sounding like an ad for some pain in unmentionable regions.
It sickens me because some corporate organisations believe they have to tell us to applaud our country. Does it mean they assume we would not? Does it mean that watching some famous people is all there is to nationalism? Is a game a yardstick for how we must feel about India?
I don’t know how many of you recall an old ad where Saif Ali Khan was rooting for our men in blue. I had addressed the issue then…
How did you react when you were told you needed a few lays? You smiled. Yes, SMILED. You thought it was a fun thing. No, you thought it was good for your self-esteem, your…gulp… country. This was irresistible. A few lays and from a mere punk you had been transformed into a patriot. Potato chips that threatened you with cholesterol were now your weapon to make the globalised world into an Indian.
The ad being aired during the World Cup matches was clearly distasteful. Saif crunching on those wafers tells a White man cheering for another team that the munchies are so irresistible that he would not be satisfied with one. The bet is that if he asks for more he would have to wear the India T-shirt. Soon, the whole stadium is in blue screaming for our team -- Whites, Blacks, Browns.
What do I find offensive about it? One, we conveniently want a cohesive whole backing us at a time when we are digging our past and fighting amongst ourselves. Two, does nationalism mean over-riding others’ rights? Do we need the crutches of other countries to be able to say we are one? Do we need SMS messages telling us to wear blue condoms and f… the Pakistanis, as happened at that time? Do we need to offer special prayers to win against an ‘enemy’ when we never do that for droughts, train tragedies, people dying of extreme cold and souls getting burnt because of the intense heat? Do we paint our faces in the colour of the national flag when any of our worthy citizens get awarded for their efforts, when a village gets drinking water, when dignity is restored to displaced people?
I don’t need two-bit advertisers, politicians, bending-over-backwards-to-please Muslim organisations, pretending-to-uphold-the-culture outfits, lighting-candles-holding hands ‘liberals’ to tell me what the nation means to me. I shall continue to ask inconvenient questions, stick my neck out, not allow anyone to accuse me of being an ‘appeased minority’ because I believe I can be true to something only if I am not blind. And yes, I like the colour green and I like the crescent moon. But if anyone dares to tell me that this indicates that my place is across the border, then I shall ask them to go take a walk. For they only want to smile during hollow victory marches, while I weep with my country, and when I watch the rainbow in the sky, I know the true meaning of colours. As the rains merge with my tears, I don’t need to prove to any part-time patriot where I belong.
So go ooh…aah…ouch…