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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 46, New Delhi, October 30, 2021

Letter to the readers, Mainstream, Oct 30, 2021

Friday 29 October 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, October 30, 2021

Nationalism, religion, and identity politics continue to divide people. Last week as the T20 cricket world cup tournament began, its managers imposed a well-meaning symbolic gesture on all participating teams ‘to take a knee’ in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US that has challenged discrimination based on race. But within hours of such a gesture being televised at the start of the important Pakistan-India match, we witnessed reactions in India totally contrary and antithetical to the intended spirit of promoting amity & equality across peoples. India lost the game as can happen in any sport. But that loss in a sports match to the ‘rival’ Pakistan team didn’t go down well. The new India is a special place where if you happen to cheer for another country in a sportive competition, you can face mob violence by self-proclaimed defenders of national interest. But most incredible of all is that you can attract charges of sedition [1], anti-terror laws, and land in prison... In the past days, there were multiple instances of arrests or harassment in India of people for apparently celebrating after the Indian team lost a cricket match to the Pakistan team at the T20 world cup. [2] Some were hauled up for allegedly sharing social media posts or ‘status’ suggesting celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India and the police have charged these people under anti-terror legislation ‘Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act’ [3] A school teacher (in the opposition ruled State of Rajasthan —seemingly competing on ’more nationalist than thou’ space) was on arrested soon after she was fired by the school management for celebrating Pakistan’s victory. The lone ‘Muslim’ cricketer in the Indian team faced angry hoards on social media for supposedly betraying India after India lost the T20 World Cup cricket match against Pakistan. Ugly, heavy-handed, majoritarian, and parochial instincts are overwhelming India. Public memory is often short-lived, so we would like to remind all that in 1999, the visiting Pakistan team defeated India in a spectacular Cricket test match in Chennai. After the victory, the whole Pakistan team took a victory lap by going a full circle in the packed Chepauk stadium and waving to the crowd of thousands which stood up and clapped. Please note that in today’s India, an entire such audience of spectators could be charged with sedition. In a democratic society, citizens ought to be free to support whomever they wish in sports matches or any other sphere of life, but we are now living in an authoritarian society. Time to wake up before they come for you!

Tributes:

Minoo Mumtaz, an Indian actress and dancer of the 1950s and 1960s who played parts in well known films Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam passed away on October 23. Many may not know that Minoo Mumtaz was also the sister of Mehmood, the celebrated India comedian.

SN Subba Rao a well-known figure in the official Gandhian circuits in India passed away on October 27 in Jaipur due to cardiac arrest. He was 92

Letieres Leite, the well-known Brazilian composer and conductor of the Orkestra Rumpilezz passed away on October 27.

We pay our tributes to the above figures

October 30, 2021 – HK

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