This was written quickly as a research proposal in mid-2011. Could be useful for anybody studying the India Pakistan cricket and other relations.
—-Cricket matches between India and Pakistan are war by other means – most people would agree on that. Especially in the recent Cricket World cup this phenomenon has been proved beyond doubt. Cricket nationalism has always possessed Indians – it is just not a sport for the average Indian who may belong to any class – rich, poor or the middle class. Contests between India and Pakistan – particularly in cricket – acquire a meaning and significance that is beyond belief for someone who has not lived in the subcontinent or is unaware of the immense popularity of cricket in India. It would be hard to find such fervour and zeal about cricket or any other sport for that matter in any other part of the world.
If cricket excites the 1.2 billion Indians, then it is the Indo-Pak cricket matches that reveal the true passion of cricket lover Indians. The Indo-Pak matches are of a different class for most Indians – they are cricket contests only in name. To the astute observer, Indo-Pak matches possess a character that is akin to war. Average Indians begin feeling like warriors when there is a match coming up with Pakistan. Our players feel the burden of extra pressure and the media paints an intoxicating picture exploiting the sentiments of the average Indians. The whole country erupts whenever there is a cricket match (read ‘clash’) coming up with Pakistan. Indians expect the team to win every match against Pakistan and losing is a virtual crime, so to speak. Everyone is glued to their TV set on the match day and the whole country comes to a standstill. It is a unique phenomenon – this Indo-Pak cricket match.
That being the situation, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is not just cricket or sport at all. It is actually something else – Indo-Pak matches have metamorphosed into a battlefield where eleven cricketers represent all of India and Indian army which marches against the Pakistanis and their army represented by the eleven Pak players. Bat and ball replaces guns and canons. And people sit in the amphitheatre or witness it on the idiot box.
Consider this popular a la Dabangg SMS message doing the rounds before the Indo-Pak semi-final match in the World Cup recently that India went on to win –
Sachin to Afridi – "Mohali me hum itne chauke-chakke lagayenge, … ke tum confuse ho jaoge, ki BOUNDRY pe khade ho ya BORDER pe..!
This message clearly represents the mindset that the Indians have cultivated over the decades vis-a-vis Indo-Pak matches. Of course you need two hands to clap and the Pakistanis and their media too finds it exciting and plays ball but is not as much crazy as the Indians and the Indian media.
There are a number of factors that need to be studied and analyzed in this connection. This research intends to do a study of a number of variables on the Indo- Pak cricket phenomenon.
Why are Indians (and Pakistanis) moved disproportionately in matters of sports?
Why do people see it as a war by proxy?
Why do the media on both sides lose composure and journalistic ethos while reporting Indo-Pak cricket matches?
Why do people flood online news and stories on news sites with hundreds of angry or hate comments within minutes of their publication?
Why are Indians so forthcoming in making Pakistan look small and the vice versa?
Will the Indo-Pak rivalry always continue to fuel through cricket?
Does this frenzy represent the frustration of Indian public on the inability of Pakistan to control its espousal of terrorism in India resulting in events like the 26/11?
Why do the two countries come to a halt when the two nations meet in the stadium?
Why is there always a war of words before and after the cricket events between the two nations?
Why do match-fixing theories crop up before and after the Indo-Pak matches?
Why does India Inc. and Bollywood comes out in the open on occasions of Indo-Pak matches while its support for others sports is scant?
How come poor countries like India and Pakistan who can not even properly feed all their population forget all else and stand united in matters of Indo-Pak contests?
What is the sociology, psychology, politics and economics of Indo-Pak cricket?
Why do Indians consider beating Pakistan a matter of bigger concern than winning the world cup (and the vice versa)?
Are the two countries being brought up on a dose of mutual hatred by vested interests?
How does the Indian public react to the Kashmiri support to Pakistan cricket team as seen in online comments on social media sites like the mushrooming Facebook groups?
Why do even intellectual campuses like JNU erupt in Indo-Pak matches?
How is the average Indian Muslim treated on occasions of Indo-Pak matches?
What is the role of Hindutva nationalism in fuelling the public rage in Indo-Pak matches?
How much is cricket an instrumental tool in the hands of politicians and the executive to divert attention from nagging issues that occupy public minds and media headlines?
Why do we want Bharat Ratna for Sachin and Dhoni and lavish them with praise and goodies while ignoring other sports and sportspersons?
What is the situation like in Pakistan; is it as bad as in India?
Will this situation continue unabated or is there hope for some normalcy in recent or the distant future?
What the functions and dysfunctions of this frenzy for both countries? Will India-Pak cricket rivalry linger even if the Kashmir issue is solved?
This research intends to study the whole gamut of issues related to the Indo-Pak cricket matches and bring out in open the latent issues behind the veneer of cricket clashes. It is one of the most important cultural phenomenon of contemporary times and presents a very interesting proposition for study and analysis.