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Team India’s new colours and how Hindu nationalism got mixed up with the nationalism of colonial oppressors

'Liberals' seem to have a problem with Virat Kohli in particular. Why? Kohli’s ruthlessness and his unending success reminds them of Modi.

This is the new jersey of Team India.

Team India’s ‘Away’ jersey.

I wouldn’t even have cared to comment on it, unless the gaggle of liberal commentators, journalists and intellectuals decided to see ‘red.’ As they always do. Pun intended.

They could have chosen to ignore it. Just like I don’t think twice about the green colour of the traffic signal.

But they couldn’t. They are still raw and itching all over from the hammering they got on May 23. They say when you have a hammer in your hand, everything begins to look like a nail. When you are a liberal and you can’t get the horror of 303-52 out of your head, I guess everything begins to look like it was planted by Modi’s agents.

In turn, I could have chosen to ignore the liberal gaggle as well. But now it is too much fun not to step in. And there is a chance to make some serious points.

Congress, SP MLAs upset over Team India’s orange jersey

What is going on here? The allergy to the saffron colour goes well with the rising Hinduphobia and the gaumutra jokes. In this case, it is not even the saffron colour. It’s orange. But they would say … close enough.. to spark another round of paranoia and Hinduphobia. Like this:

BCCI is now ‘headless’

There are many layers to how the liberals are reacting to our cricket team in recent times. Only a few days ago, the Guardian gave coverage to an absurd sentiment during the India – Pakistan cricket game; to an alleged India fan who was unhappy that the Indian team had turned into “cold-hearted winners.”

Indian fan ‘upset’ that India won against Pakistan

Instead, this alleged India fan was longing for the days when India’s gameplan would fall apart and players would make a fool of themselves, one by one.

Now this person might have been particularly foolish and unsophisticated in choosing their words, but if you scratch the surface, you will find a basket of emotions that Indian liberals mostly share today. A longing for the “inefficiencies” of the past … a hint at the old Nehruvian India, perhaps? That old Nehruvian India was great if you were in the circle of courtiers at Lutyens Delhi. If you were not in that circle, you waited in long lines for a few litres of kerosene.

Those are the days that the Indian liberal wishes would come back.

The thing is that the Indian cricket team over the years has become a proxy for India’s success. In fact, India’s rise in cricket is seen as a foretelling of the future, a precursor to India’s inevitable rise on the global stage as a superpower. As such, India’s dominance in world cricket … and the inevitability of that dominance, bothers them no end.

For liberals, this is a foretelling of the fact that Achche Din (for them) are never coming back.

I have no idea what are Virat Kohli’s political beliefs. I suspect most liberals don’t know either. But have you noticed how liberals seem to have a problem with Virat Kohli in particular?

Why? Because Kohli has become a symbol of unabashed excellence, of single-minded pursuit of a goal and the inevitable achievement of it. Kohli’s ruthlessness and his unending success reminds them of Modi. And it reminds them of the inadequacies of their main man Rahul Gandhi.. the one who cannot do anything right.

While I am mocking them for their paranoia, I will freely admit that the parallels are there. Kohli represents a new India. The entire attitude of the cricket team resembles that of a new India.

And liberals even know the moment it all began.


That moment in that Lord’s balcony when Saurav Ganguly took his shirt off! Every kid of my generation remembers it. I always get a lump in my throat when I hear Harsha Bhogle recount that great moment.

We’ve always harbored thoughts of telling people listen get stuffed yourself, but we never did it. We were a great talking nation, we weren’t a great doing nation. And they found that when Saurav came along and he actually took that shirt off, people said : Ah! Someone’s actually done it. Someone’s done what we wanted to do and there wasn’t a scriptwriter who wrote it for him. He just did it.” (see from 3:00)

And then a different guest takes over: “He was a generation of Indians, born almost 30 years after independence, who had no colonial baggage. This was a man who said: I’m an Indian. So what? I am as good as anybody else. It doesn’t matter what happened a hundred years ago.

You hear that?  I couldn’t have put it better.

Cricket is a sphere in which India learned to throw off its “baggage”. And that is what bothers those who feel more connected to the Mughals, the British and the Nehru Gandhis than to the new India.

That’s what they see in Modi. And that’s why they hate him.

As ‘secular’ journalist, Binoo John writes, what he saw in that moment on the Lord’s balcony was the “embarrassment” of the Hindu symbols that Saurav Ganguly was wearing under his shirt.

Think about a game like cricket which is overridden with ridiculous old British imperial traditions. But that does not “embarrass” anybody. Only a Hindu symbol does. Why? Because Hinduphobia.

The other point that I wanted to make here was about “nationalism,” the ghost of which is tormenting every Indian liberal these days.

How did ‘nationalism’ become a dirty word? We the Hindus didn’t do it. It was the Europeans who did it. They went out there and brutalized everyone else. Don’t you forget the religious edge to the colonial project. And inside Europe, “nationalism” surfaced as a form of hatred against Jews and culminated in the horror of the Holocaust. Don’t you forget how cozy the Catholic Church was with Mussolini’s Fascist Party? Vatican City? A gift from Mussolini to the Pope in return for political support in Italy.

That’s the belt worn by the “Wehrmacht” or the Nazi military in WW2.

The belt worn by the “Wehrmacht” or the Nazi military in WW2.

It says “Gott mit uns” or “God with us.” Even though every single Nazi soldier wore this on his belt, notice how the invocation to the Christian god is mostly forgotten by history. Instead, the peaceful Hindu swastika, which Hitler adopted, became widely publicized. Till today, innocent Hindus and Buddhists using the swastika have to explain to people that they have literally nothing to do with Nazism. Did the Catholic Church ever have to explain itself? No!

Oh and notice how the Wehrmacht used a cross as its emblem.

Emblem of Wehrmacht

So it is Europe that did horrible things in the name of “nationalism.” It is in Europe that six million innocent Jews perished in the holocaust.

But the taint of European nationalism is laid on us!!!

Why is the taint of European nationalism laid on the poor Hindu, whose only “nationalism” has been a struggle for existence?

Just think about that. Some poor Hindu, whose ancestors have paid Jaziya tax for a thousand years, goes out with a saffron flag and calls himself a Hindu nationalist. And suddenly this poor person finds himself on the receiving end of blame for the crimes of nationalism in Europe!

How ridiculous is that?

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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