06 September 2012

We are waiting for you Mahendra Singh Dhoni!

On March 3, 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team went through something that no other national cricket team had to suffer. The only other comparison, which of course surpassed this in terms of the horrific and tragic, was the attack on the Israel Olympic team in Munich in 1972.  On March 3, 2009, a group of gunmen opened fire on the bus carrying the cricketers.  This was in Lahore, Pakistan.  Some were injured and put out of action for a long time.  Thilan Samaraweera sustained shrapnel wounds to this thigh and Tharanga Paranavithana to his chest.  

Sri Lanka did not cut off diplomatic ties with Pakistan.  For two reasons: first, the need to have a sense of proportion, i.e. to maintain sanity and err on the side of reason as opposed to emotion, and secondly, because Pakistan is a friendly country, in word and deed.  The actions of a few do not indicate unanimous approval and coaxing by the collective.  Pakistan and Pakistanis are not to be blamed for the actions of a few deranged individuals.

Two days ago, on September 4, 2012, five buses were attacked by mobs using sticks and stones, this time in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  These buses were carrying Sri Lankan pilgrims to the Trichy Airport.  These same pilgrims had been harassed and threatened earlier in the day by mobs of the same insane political persuasion, according to reports.

Cricketers are not pilgrims, strictly speaking.  Sticks are not guns and stones are not bullets.  The name of the weapon and the tag of the victim, however, are but of academic concerns when considering context.  Fear is fear. Wound in wound.  Objection is objection. 

Sri Lanka Cricket did not cancel all cricket fixtures with Pakistan following the 2009 attack.  Now had it been a bus carrying the Indian team that was attacked in Lahore and had Sachin Tendulkar and not Thilan Samaraweera, let us say, who was injured, it might have been a different story.  But India is India and Sri Lanka is Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka is not India. 

The point is that sanity demands the separation of villainy from ethnic or religious identity.  The assailants were of the Islamic faith in Lahore, but what they did was neither expression of Islamic religious or philosophical tenet nor sanctioned by the same.  Similarly, the attack in Tamil Nadu, although instigated and carried out by Tamil persons, cannot and should not be read as some kind of cultural trait ingrained in the Tamil psyche.  To extend the argument further, Tamils should not be seen as a monolithic ethnicity.  Neither should Tamil Nadu be seen as a political monolith.  Nor India, for that matter. 

Sri Lanka is not India and for all its errors of the past, Sri Lanka has refused to go the Gujarat way of extracting eye for extracted eye.  Whatever reservations Sri Lankans may have about the bona fides of the Indian Government (and many of them amenable to easy substantiation too, one might add), the rulers of India should not be confused with the people of India.  India is a massive country and those dimensions (size, population etc) naturally make for unimaginable differentiation across region, religious faith, ethnicity, caste, class and philosophical bent.  This should be appreciated. 

No, what is being suggested is not the under-the-carpet-shoving that lip-service to ‘long standing historical, cultural and friendly relations’ mouthed by leaders in times like this amount to.  It is about making the effort to recognize commonalities, the shared human fear of death and the shared will to live.  What is being suggested is to see self in one’s Indian counterpart, whether or not the Indian returns the favor. 

Less than two weeks from today, the Indian cricket team will arrive in Sri Lanka for the T-20 Cricket World Cup.  Sri Lanka is cricket mad, but not to the point of stoning the houses of heroes who turned into zeroes in the course of a single game or series.  Sri Lankans are enthusiastic about politics but not to the point that they confuse politics with sport.  In any event it is advisable to resist the baser urges that all humankind is endowed with to a greater or lesser degree. 

Not a single Indian who happens to be in Sri Lanka or who has for whatever reason visited or intends to visit Sri Lanka should be treated to anything less than the highest hospitality that Sri Lankans are known to extend to strangers.  Not because any of us owe India or Indians a favor (we do not), but because we are Sri Lankans and we are all capable (again on account of our humanity) to rise above those baser instincts.  That is the best answer to the thugs, their approvers and their apologists.  Anything less would be a disservice done to ourselves, not to India.   

Dhoni does not belong to India.  He belongs to the entire cricketing world.   The random, unnamed Indian you encounter is not Indian, he is a human being.  That’s all that needs to be remembered.



Shaik Ahamath said...

Thank God for your sanity. Sadly though, there are political elements in our country poised to make capital out of situations like this. We are not alone. Muslims from around the world, pay a heavy price in America, for the actions of a deranged few who happened to be Muslims. Equally deranged are the broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh etc. who stoke up the hatred for their own agenda.

Anonymous said...

Other newsmedia please copy!!

Anonymous said...

Tamils everywhere are being 'let down' by this type of behaviour in Tamilnadu.