Friday, November 28, 2008

The colour of conscience

Apartheid. We read about it in school. Grew up and learnt about it more through books and the media. We stood up for what was wrong. We supported the fight to end it. We even celebrated the end of Apartheid as we knew it.

In 1974, India came very close to wining the Davis Cup. As a nation, we decided to boycott the finals as South Africa was the other finalist. Why? Because that was our way of showing our support to the thousands of people who, in the words of Vijay Amritraj, “struggle of the non-white people of that country for what the rest of the world takes for granted”. They were people in another continent. They were struggling so far away. It could have been a different planet for all we cared. But there were Indians there (regardless of why they landed up there in the first place) and that made some difference. And even if there weren’t any Indians, we may still have supported the cause of people who were being discriminated against. Could it be that we had a collective conscience?

What has changed since? Nothing has changed really. Today, we are happy that Obama has become the president of the United States. We have followed American history quite well. We know the struggle of that nation’s people and share their happiness. We know that "Rosa sat so Martin could walk...Martin walked, so Obama could run...Obama is running so our children can fly!"

We are more concerned about what happens in some corner of the world. And we’re totally indifferent to our immediate surroundings. Is that it? We boycotted the Davis Cup final because we didn’t want to play South Africa. But we play cricket, every other day it seems, with our dear neighbours. Are we so indifferent to our own people? Or is it that cricket rules over all else? I hear people say, ‘I can’t miss an India Pakistan match ever.” So, we can choose not to play against a country that practiced whatever it did within its four walls, so to say, but we cannot choose not to play against a country that has robbed us of our peace of mind, has made our nights sleepless, has left many of us homeless, and has snatched away so many loved ones. Why don't we take a stand?

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