To bring in all Indians the feeling of togetherness is good practice.
When our team was playing to catapult India into the ICC World Cup final, it was a spectacular moment. Millions of Indians were glued emotionally to the match, wishing that the country wins. They were oblivious of the back story of the players, their caste or religion. This tension was spell-binding. Bringing about a spectacular feeling of oneness towards a common objective for all Indians.
Bound together in this exhilarating feeling, the spectators at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium were holding their breath, while Shami was at his best in the run up to knock out the Kiwis. Crores of people were watching the match on TV and mobile screens.
The Indian batting score was respectable at 397/4 after 50 overs, but in the backdrop of the 2019 World Cup experience, with the Kiwis anything was possible. The Kiwis did well with the bat and showed their fighting spirit, with the match looking difficult for India at one point.
The unwavering faith that skipper Rohit Sharma reposed on Shami must have been a challenge for the latter to perform for both his skipper and the country. The bowler did not disappoint, in fact he set the bar so high that it surprised even the best of world cricketers. He looked so confident on the field.
He shone again that day as he had been doing throughout the tournament and clinched 7 wickets to derail New Zealand’s batting and broke some crucial partnerships. Obviously, it was the team effort of Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill and the able captainship of Rohit Sharma, which ensured India’s win. Shami couldn’t have pulled it off alone.
India needs many more such exciting moments. Even if it is a game, to bring in all Indians the feeling of togetherness is good practice. Moments where the Indian identity is defined by common national interests and nothing else matters.
India is a vast country with immense diversity of culture. Ever since Indian Independence and Partition we have not had many such Shami moments, where all Indians were riding on a common wave of high feelings. We got our Constitution in 1950 and voted for the first time in 1951.
The States Reorganizations Act of 1962 brought all Indians belonging to diverse backgrounds into a strong thread of Indianness. We have stood together whenever Pakistan or China have tried to act smart with us.
We reached the stars in 1973 when Aryabhata, our first satellite to space was launched. We have also had “Sare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Hamara” moments when Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma in 1984 reached space. More recently we celebrated the success of Chandrayaan-3 together.
Another milestone in the history of our nation was 2009, when we got a common Aadhar identity. Collectively we have fought wars against superstition, poverty and illiteracy and we continue to fight them even today.
In between artists have also given their amazing contribution in making us realise the feeling of Indianness. They have made us realise how great our country is. In 1983, Amitabh Bachchan as an angry young man and a Muslim coolie in the Bollywood film Coolie made us conscious of our shared problems as Indians. In 1975, Sholay a beautifully told story, relived the moments of challenges in an Indian rural life.
“Miley Sur Mera Tumhara” was the mellifluous rendition of a song by stalwarts in the Indian musical industry of national integration and unity in diversity. In 1988, developed by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad and promoted by Doordarshan, it became a very successful and effective tool for bringing about the feeling of Indianness.
Every nation, no matter if it is a nation-state or not, bound by strong civilizational and common values must from time to time make efforts to celebrate nationalism and not just limit it to days of national importance such as Independence Day and Republic Day. European countries celebrate their oneness through supporting their football teams.
In India, cricket has been the most popular sport. In the past we have seen how Sunil Gavaskar, Roger Binny, Syed Kirmani and Bishan Singh Bedi together have woven us together in the feeling of oneness as they took on some of the most challenging times in the world. In 1983, under the captaincy of Kapil Dev we won the Cricket World Cup; recently a movie was made which recreated the emotions on this historical event.
The Shami moment has rekindled those feelings which need to be fostered on our way of becoming a superpower in 2047. Let’s see how we performs in the final. All the best!
Atir Khan is a senior journalist.