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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Patriotism games

India lost to Pakistan on the cricket field. But that’s not all

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: June 22, 2017 12:15:21 am
India vs Pakistan, Virat Kohli, Black Bands, Pakistan Captain Virat Kohli stands on the pitch after his team lost to Pakistan by 180 runs the ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval in London, Sunday, June 18, 2017. (AP Photo)

When a team like India, the favourite to win, finds a way to “snatch defeat from the jaws of (predicted) victory”, they have to swallow their pride and digest the fact that on the day, they lost to the better team. Cricket captain Virat Kohli did that graciously on Sunday after Pakistan thrashed India in the Champions Trophy final (Star Sports).

Want to learn how to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and turn a narrative on its head — a perfect shirshasana like wrestler Sushil Kumar performed with Baba Ramdev at his side on India Today? Watch TV news channels.

In a “masterstroke” that almost rivals PM Modi and Amit Shah’s choice of Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA’s presidential candidate, the news anchors on Sunday went from wearing Team India blue T-shirts and chanting “Invincible India” before the finals to turning blue in the face with barely contained outrage at “India’s Ornamental Patriots” (Times Now).

Here’s the masterstroke: The Indian cricketers were being criticised not for losing to Pakistan but for not wearing black bands for the Indian security forces in Kashmir — as the Indian hockey team did against Pakistan in a Sunday match which saw India thrash Pakistan 7-1. Zee News and Times Now were furious: “A billion let down by millionaires”, “Cricketers forget the braves”, anchor Anand Narasimhan raved and ranted (Times Now). Note, our hockey players were applauded for their win but much more for their patriotic gesture.

The other turnaround in the story of India’s defeat to Pakistan was more in line with the current TV discourse. Channels like India TV, Aaj Tak, India Today and Zee News raged against a video of firecrackers being burst and men dancing allegedly in celebration of Pakistan’s victory, in Kashmir — one more black mark against the Valley — to say nothing of Mirwaiz Omar Farooq’s tweet congratulating Pakistan. People interviewed on Zee News and Aaj Tak criticised the “traitors”, “back stabbers” — send them to Pakistan, act against them, etcetera.

This is perhaps an opportune moment to gently remind ourselves of the thousands of NRIs who turn out wherever India plays in England to wildly support the team — even when it plays England. The Tebbit test, remember? Are they patriots?

Even as this video played out, ABP gave us a salutary and sobering lesson in not believing everything you see. Viral Sach, a daily evening show, investigates whether video clips doing the rounds on social media are genuine or false.

On Tuesday, it examined a clip of men in white caps, kurta and pyjama watching Pakistan beat India and jump with joy when the last ball was bowled — apparently at a masjid on Meera Road, Mumbai. Reporter Rajesh Tripathi visited Meera road masjids and discovered that TVs and films screens are not permitted in masjids. Subsequently, the logo on the telecast was discovered to be PTV’s — the scene was from somewhere in Pakistan.

Ah, these videos: Watch them but watch out for them too.

While Zee News sulked after it decided to boycott Pakistan’s matches at the tourney, it was forced to change its mind on Sunday and broadcast the news of the final game. DD National meanwhile, telecast all matches involving India and the semi finals, finals where Pakistan figured — wonder which channel is more patriotic.

DD National even ran a Hindi commentary in which Rajinder Amarnath began with reluctant praise of Pakistan’s effort — “abhi kismet Pakistan batsmen ke saath” to lavish it on them as the game progressed. Which is just as it ought to be, right? After all, we must snatch sports out of the jaws of politics, mustn’t we? CNN News 18 deserves all praise for being the only major news channels to debate and discuss Anil Kumble’s resignation as coach of the Indian cricket team on Tuesday evening, soon after the news broke. All the others stuck to their scheduled debates. How can news channels not respond to immediate developments — and in cricket this was a cracker (oops bad choice of word!), a bouncer.

Did you watch the PM perform yoga in Lucknow early Wednesday morn or were you too busy posing yourself? Well, you couldn’t miss seeing Baba Ramdev — he was on almost news channels spread out like a yoga mat. He had a few kind words for Rahul Gandhi too: “A very decent man, very innocent but that doesn’t help in politics”; and one piece of advice — he ought to practice “anulom vilom” to sharpen his brain (India Today).

Everybody now.

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