Off late, I had been writing a bit more than usual on subject matters related to Cricket. I hope there is room in the readers’ mind-space for one more thought.
Some days ago it was reported in the newspapers that some young Indian cricketers had expressed their desire to win the 2011 World cup for Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar has not been a part of a world cup winning Indian team (he has played in 5 world cup editions since 1992). The approach of those young players was widely criticized by many former international cricketers. Many of them said that motivation to win a world cup should be bigger than ‘doing it for Tendulkar’. Many said that international cricketers play for their country and the feeling that they are representing a nation should be the main motivation. They may have a point there. However, I don’t see any problem with players motivating themselves to win a world stage tournament for a person (in this case, Tendulkar) rather than a nation (in this case, India).
It is probably the way Indians usually approach any problem/challenge. India is a country of countries. Citizens of other civilizations express their patriotism by wearing their hearts on their sleeves. There is a section of Indians who are jingoistic about Indian nationhood and ‘Indianism’ (if such a thing exists). I believe that they form a minority.
Many of us respect India as a nation, however are not motivated by nationalistic ideas. We are motivated more by ‘what others perceive to be right’ than by ‘what we inherently recognize as right’. We say things that are pleasing on the ears, however we may not mean what we say. This happens because situations in India demand more diplomacy than in many other places. Diplomacy is the fundamental binding glue for a country of countries. I think the remark of those young cricketers that they wished to win the 2011 World cup for Tendulkar is a rare exception to our usually diplomatic ready-made answers. We should celebrate such honesty.
Winning the World cup for India may invoke passion in those players. However they remember the contribution of Tendulkar to World cricket and recognize that it is more important to win it for him than anything else. It probably is an Indian approach (I may be wrong) and for most Indians it works when they say they are doing it for personal reasons. Relating oneself to an artificial (yet useful) structure does not come naturally to human beings no matter how romantic and poetic that may sound. India as a nation is a beautiful concept. However, the citizens of India have not evolved to the level where they can genuinely be happy if a cricket team wins a world cup for the sake of their country. At this stage they are satisfied if their favourite players do well. We should be honest enough to admit that.
We do complain about ‘selfish players’ in a team. We do say sometimes that a particular cricketer did not do justice to the situation in a particular game. It is a team game after all. However, the Indian thought process is individual centric and most Indians are at their personal best when they perform their tasks as individuals. Some of the management gurus emphasize the need to recognize team players. I am afraid, in India we normally get a bunch of individuals. They perform their tasks and some time they recognize others as individuals (in the discussed case of Tendulkar). Playing for the team is a diplomatic mask that Indians have to wear to survive in a country of countries.
Indians in general have a privately public life where everyone is interested in everyone else. The level of publicity for a common person may not be as high as or as glamorous as that for a celebrity (or should I say pseudo celebrities). However both types of ‘interest’ end at mere curiosity and by and large do not become factors of ‘motivation’ to influence any decision/process (with a few psychologically abnormal exceptions). The day we grow from ‘curiosity in others’ to a ‘strong world view’, we will realize that the world (cup) will not be enough. It will not be enough to win it for Tendulkar. It will not be enough to win it for India. It will not be enough to win. It will not be enough…