Breathing Together: Cricket's Unifying Spirit in India's World Cup Journey
There are few moments when the blood pressure and heart rate of 1.4 billion people are regulated by one phenomenon, and at 2:00 p.m., India will start breathing together! It's a rare phenomenon; three times earlier, we have played in the World Cup final. On two occasions, we emerged victorious, and once we lost. But here is the opportunity today to undo what we did in 2003.
One can no longer diminish the importance of the game of Cricket just because only a couple of countries play it. Its significance is measured by the fact that the world's largest country worships it. It's not about the country; it's about the people. While in the international circle, the World Cup Football may seem like a bigger event because more countries participate, the number of people who tune in to watch and feel this game surpasses any other sporting event in the world.
The unbeatable journey of India in this World Cup is a story of its robust presence on the world map. Scholars have already predicted that the coming decades belong to India, and this sporting event adds to such assumptions. India's dominance in international cricket marks a departure from its colonial roots and establishes it as a superpower.
The idea of cricket nationalism is very true; it is the single biggest phenomenon that unites India across its diversity. Based on this understanding, in 2005, NCERT introduced a chapter in class 9th emphasizing the development of cricket and its crucial role in uniting the country as a nation. I do not think there is any other phenomenon to which children in their teenage years relate more than cricket . Unfortunately, this chapter has been dropped from the NCERT book, which does not appear to be a wise decision. We do not include chapters in our curriculum just to facilitate easy learning or help children pass examinations but to prepare the citizens of a nation. The chapter on cricket, I feel, is the best way to foster that sense of belonging.
The erstwhile chapter on cricket traces the history of the sport and demonstrates how the game has evolved from religious and caste divides, contributing to welding a society that reflects the true spirit of a nation. Today, it has become a fulcrum for giving wings to middle-class aspirations. In every nook and corner of the country, we find young boys and girls playing the game of cricket with the hope that one day they will contribute to the glory of the nation, and in return, they will also have a career.
The team facing Australia today demonstrates the most beautiful example of a cohesive society, where the bowling is led by Mohammed Shami and the batting is dominated by Virat Kohli. Yes! That's the finest strength of our nation! The choice is ours — whether we want to trace the line of division between communities or the line of unity that binds us together. Shami and Virat are examples for me!
Let's get ready to breathe together; let's get ready to witness one of the finest phenomena in the history of our nation — a phenomenon that truly transforms us as citizens of the nation.