India v. Pakistan: Beyond the Hype

Guestblog by Fakir

I’ve been complaining for several weeks regarding the cricket craze and how educated, conscious south asians should be taking this moment of international spotlight on their ancestral or native countries to highlight their higher expectations for their countries much like what occurred around the world and in Beijing during China Olympics 2008 and educate their peers.

It especially angers me when I see Sikhs rooting for either Pakistan or India, when I see Muslims rooting for India (and Pakistan), etc etc, because these are oppressive machines not harmless patriotic identities. India v. Pakistan is going to happen today in Mohali, Punjab, India. Here is something else that happened in Mohali, Punjab, India just yesterday:

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A Sikh commanding official in the Punjab Police orders his Hindu subordinate to remove the pagh of a Sikh veterinary pharmacist as a form of insult to his captive. The captive is a young man (an Indian citizen, if we must) protesting unemployment in Punjab at the Mohali stadium as a desperate resort to draw attention to the less-than-rosy picture India paints of Punjab, other states, as well as the national entity of India to its native and NRI citizens as well as to its international peers.Both the “Sikh” and the Hindu policemen are instruments of the government much like the Egyptian army men and Libya’s civilian secret police, against their own people. How do we as Pakistani or India origin’d people just sit back and only root for the cricket team as if it is completely removed from the national identify or does not represent an entire oppressive structure, as if somehow the cricket team is completely separate from Pakistan condoning the murders of Sikhs and Christians, other minorities, and general citizens… from India conducting state-sponsored pogroms/genocides on various religious and ethnic minorities with intents to completely wipeout any group is the not Hindu or blindly nationalistic?

Imagine if Libya was one of the teams playing in the upcoming cricket match. Do we think critical and socially conscious Libyans would support a national cricket team as Libyan women are being raped by Gadafi’s men (escapes, runs to hotel housing foreign media, tries to tell story, and is jailed again)? How are the acts of Gadafi’s government any different from India’s Punjab Police torturing and murdering Bhai Sohan Singh and then declaring that he committed suicide on March 14, 2011? It is one thing for the poor man of India rally behind his Indian cricket team because it provides him a distraction from the fact that his life as a rickshaw driver probably won’t put food on his family’s table that night, or a temporary happiness.It is entirely another if the Sikh living in North America is going to change his status on facebook to Go Indiaaaaa!!! without the slightest thought to the idea that he/she is now supporting and giving agency. A comfortable nation with positive international PR has no incentive to improve for its people. Vigilance is the key and vigilance never sleeps. As Sikhs, vigilance should be our middle name.

We are now seeing reactions from some on Facebook and the internet against the protest and police incident in Mohali but they are exactly that: reactions. Reactionary action and outrage will continue to handicap us as an ethno-religious community and as citizens of the world if it only bothers us to be the Khalsa that we are physically, mentally, and spiritually mandated to be, when we are slapped in the face with reality. It is time we begin stepping up to the plate before it is handed to us adorned with our paghs and our dignity.

India is too diverse for its pants, with so many problems that it is barely preventing its seams from bursting. Two things (amongst several others) that are preventing a social revolution in India – Bollywood and consumerism. Bollywood is an opium for the masses, and today cricket is comparable in this sense. From the poor it inspires a hope or short-term fantasy that is similar to low- or middle-class Republicans in American who support low income taxes for the rich. For the comfortable middle class, or the rich, it (Bollywood and consumerism) furthers removes them from the atrocities of their government and the plight of their fellow (and now dehumanized) countrymen.

Here’s my point if it hasn’t whalloped us over the head yet: Im not asking that we declare cricket to be anti-panthic, evil, or worse I ask that we remain critical citizens of the world (in this case, citizens of South Asia) and remember the short and long-term consequences of our seemingly harmless (and possibly temporary) patriotism. At least meet me halfway and think about the social, economic, and political issues that Punjab and India and Pakistan are dealing with currently and continuously while we root for Yuvraj or Afridi.


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17 Responses to “India v. Pakistan: Beyond the Hype”

  1. Justsomesikh says:

    What an excellent, thought provoking post.

  2. Harinder says:

    [Please keep your comments relevant – Admin Kaur]

  3. rmohansingh says:

    While Sikhs are busy facing turban-related challenges in western countries (Italy, the TSA procedures in the USA), the most disappointing of all from the video is that several Sikh officers stood there and not only apparently ordered this act, but watched it happen. It's no exaggeration to say that such a disdainful trespass as exhibited in this video is not as likely to happen in North America.

    We can criticize "India", but let us not forget that in most cases where our rights and dignity have been trampled on in the Sikhs' own homeland, we Sikhs are our own worst enemy.

  4. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear Fakir,

    I reply to you, completely in sympathy of the sentiments you put forward and in solidarity of the issues you are raising. I enter a critique in order to push all of us towards greater reflection.

    Quick update as others have noted there has been action taken against the officers (or at least such has been reported in the media, if there are real penalties and implementation, we will have to wait and see) – http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110331/punjab….

    Again, I know this is window-dressing and the issues Fakir raises are structural.

  5. Mewa Singh says:

    My issue is with the usage of analogy in bringing forth relationships involving Sikhs, Muslims, indians, and Libya.

    The problem for the Sikhs or Muslims in India, is whether they feel nationalistic feelings towards the Indian state. You are putting forth that they should feel none and give good examples for why that may be so. Implicit in the argument are the roots for a different sort of patriotism that is different and apart from the Indian nation-state. Thus Sikhs and Muslims of India should be [have been] tepid at best for cheering for the Indian national team in the cricket match against Pakistan.

  6. Mewa Singh says:

    However, for Libyans, I do believe they would have cheered for the Libyan team, not because the team represented the repressive state, but because their nationalisms are tied to the existing state-structures. They are calling for a change of government, but not a redrawing of cartographic lines.

    That was part of the appeal in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. The protestors could claim to be the 'true' patriots of the land. For Sikhs and other non-state actors, their demands are something different and have loyalties placed elsewhere. One cannot perfectly compare those wishing to take the existing state in a different direction through elections and others that are legitimately questioning the basis of the existing state.

    Regardless as mentioned before – I do agree with you with the overall analysis.

  7. Fakir says:

    @Mewa Singh Thank you for the critique. I was unclear in the depth and intention of that analogy. Perhaps its not that the Libyans should or would support their national teams, but rather that a critically-conscious Libyan (sympathetic to his rebel countrymen in Benghazi, lets say) should not and would not support a Gaddafi fueled-and-funded cricket team in the name of "Libyan identity". However, this is obviously getting into specifics that are harder to parallel as you have mentioned. The overarching point to which I was trying to draw attention is that national sports teams represent and inspire national identities, the latter of which we (as Sikhs and other underrepresented minorities) should be wary of, cricket or no cricket.

    BUT, point taken and accepted.

  8. Sarbjit Singh says:

    There is few on this site pretending to be Sikh, They love to talk bout issues are not related Sikhi, This is the Issue related to Sikhi and i don't see even one comment here by them? ooh i guess they busy defending others while cant defend themselves and their identity .

  9. In the current controversy on the Sikh Turban we could have done without at Mohali Chandigarh, I thought it appropriate to revisit my video slideshow posted on the You Tube a couple of years ago in order to help spread awareness about the Sikh identity and educate our fellow citizens in distant lands regarding the turban in general and what it means to the Sikhs in particular. Apart from making presentations in California schools and other public institutions, this moving images slide show was presented live at the San Jose State University, department of the foreign languages at the behest of Dr. Mohinder Singh Madan and the late professor Atamjit Singh who taught Punjabi course to the university students. Here is the link : http://www.pashaurasinghdhillon.com/musicslidesho

  10. JEET SINGH says:

    Whatever these idiot and criminal police officers did to this sikh youth should be punished the best way possible but No matter what u write or do…or waste ur time Mr Fakir people like you are brainwashed to an extent that u will never change…i agree that there will be 10 who will listen to u and don't forget that there are 90 who will ignore your typical divide and rule policies……I am a proud sikh and a proud Indian and I love my INDIAN cricket……….If 84 anti sikh massacre was one of the most henious black spot on India(without doubt) then yesterday was one of the best day when SIKHS HINDUS CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIM PLAYERS got together and won the world cup for India…..ups and down are part of life whether its an individual human being or a country……do u think history of UK USA OR ANY other nation for that matter has been bed of roses…no..its hasen't…….In any case we live in a free enviornment and u have right to say what u feel and i have the right to say what i feel…TU meri soch nai badal sakda tey mein TERI soch nai badal sakda…Rab Rakha

  11. sapna says:

    what makes u think that those who had ‘go ‘india” or ‘go pakistan’ on their status were not aware of the conflicting and complex layers of problematic histories that are behind these cheers? it’s a game, yaar and cricket, more than any other game, ESP when it’s india v pakistan, is POLITICS. u know how important it was that that game allowed a pakistani official visit for a match? that means SO much for indo-pak relations, which hopefully will ease a lot of tensions in the region, even if just minisculey. remember that the main peoples impacted by partition are pubjabis and kashmiris, and any thawing btwn india & pak relations could ease freedom of movement for families that remain separated. what if there were a Yankees or Knicks game? do u not think that NY state has been oppressive to many populations, like LGBT folk for example? does it mean every time somebody is excited about a Yankees ‘win’ that they are celebrating state oppression? all I am trying to say is give cricket fans more credit & don’t try to understand what it means for millions of desis living far away from home to cheer for their teams.

  12. moorakh88 says:

    The World Cup unified people in celebration, regardless of their backgrounds. Everyone is kinder, joyous, and feels like a winner. The only problem is that we should have more of this spirit. I assure you, no one’s turban was taken of that day
    .
    As for the Sikh commanding official, he’s no Sikh. I can understand police officers are stressed; after all, they have to police a billion people. But to dehumanize another, esp insulting another’s religious core belief and identity, is a form of police brutality. I don’t think a suspension is enough. Why aren’t there any trials to excommunicate them from the Sikh Community?

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