Hardik Pandya, an all-rounder for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, created quite the flutter on social media and across mainstream media after he took to the knees during his brilliant innings on Sunday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Following his debacle at Koffee With Karan, the cricketer finally appears to have discovered the trick to find favour in elite circles.
To be fair to Hardik Pandya, he is probably not very political a person and does not spend too much time studying the antecedents of political movements, as is natural. Taking to his knees for the Black Lives Matter movement is for him, most likely, a fashion statement. He has made it abundantly clear through his past conduct in public life that he does not think too much before giving voice to his thoughts.
Some individuals on social media expressed their dissatisfaction with his actions on account of prior conduct of cricketing authorities which they consider hypocritical. During the ICC World Cup in 2019, MS Dhoni was asked by ICC to remove the paratrooper insignia on his wicket-keeping gloves as it was a demonstration of political expression that was apparently against their rules and regulations. Subsequently, however, a Black Lives Matter logo was worn during an ICC tournament by the West Indies team despite being contrary to the same.
It is important to understand here that the Black Lives Matter is entirely farcical in the Indian context. Slavery was never practiced by Monarchs of the Hindu Civilization, the legacy of which is India. Furthermore, India was itself colonised by the British and other European countries. Quite clearly, the actions of Hardik Pandya was geared towards appealing to White-dominated countries despite the fact that IPL’s primary audience is in the subcontinent.
It is pertinent to mention the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement. It did not originate in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death as so many would like to believe. It originated much earlier and the first time it managed to make headlines was in 2015-16 when BLM activists were caught on video raising incendiary slogans against the Police.
More recently, a significant section of BLM activists were found rampaging across cities in the United States of America, engaging in looting and arson and bringing down statues and disfiguring monuments. While it has become fashionable to take to the knees in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on occasions where it does not make any sense, the Democrat party with their friends in the media have managed a swift propaganda coup whereby all such criminal activities have been brushed under the carpet.
There is good evidence, of course, that Hardik Pandya does not really care that much about racism. If he did, he would have raised his voice against the extensive racism that certain Indians are facing in their own country. In Meghalaya, a mainstream Khasi students union put up posters that said “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis”. In recent times, Bengali youths in the state have also ben attacked by racists in the state in suspected hate-crimes.
The institutional racism that Bengalis and other non-tribals face in north-eastern states is well documented. However, how many cricketers or sportsmen or other celebrities have used their significant influence to speak for them? But Hardik Pandya did find the time to speak in favour of the Black Lives Matter movement, something that is entirely irrelevant to the Indian context.
The real objective, of course, is not actual concern about racism but garnering favourable coverage in the press. Beleaguered and harangued by the media over his distasteful remarks in the talk show with Karan Johar, his actions on Sunday were undoubtedly a remarkable PR success story. All his sins have been forgiven. A man that was until yesterday a vile person who embodied toxic masculinity is now suddenly a paragon of virtue society ought to emulate. Who said miracles don’t happen?
There is certainly a level of disgust that such patronising attitude by celebrities tends to excite. The average citizen might not be as rich or influential as them but they are not so braindead that they do not realise Black Lives Matter. That is, of course, how activists make their money; by pretending that something almost everyone agrees with is a morally contentious issue.
And under the garb of a slogan that everyone agrees with, they seek to implement a radical transformation of society. Subsequently, when individuals disagree with the reforms proposed, activists claim that critics disagree with the slogan itself. For instance, unless someone is on board with abolishing the Police, activists would have us believe that the individual does not believe Black Lives Matter.
Hardik Pandya, of course, is not aware of all these intricacies. He is a cricketer. Political theories and activism are not his forte and is not supposed to be. However, as a celebrity, he does care about his public image a lot and he felt the acute necessity of repairing the damage that his appearance on the talk-show had done. If he indeed cared about racism, he would have spoken out against the racism non-tribals face in North-East India rather than BLM which has no relevance in India.