When Raj Thackeray tried to come to Bala Saheb Thackeray’s defence a few days back, the latter replied the next day saying, “Raj should not try to grab cheap publicity by taking up for me”.
Shilpa Shetty also said the same recently when she saw some people getting publicity using her name.
It seems Sachin Tendulkar is made of different material. Adam Gilchrist, a retired cricketer questioned his bonafides in his book, got media mileage first and then apologized to him and Sachin took it in his stride.
To defend himself he did say later that he can’t believe that someone who knows him can call him unsportsmanly and that he is the first to shake hands… But he did not directly attack Gilchrist. By not reacting sharply to what Gilchrist did Sachin has shown once again that he is the greater sportsman.
Adam Gilchrist is not as well known as Sachin in the world. Mind you, Adam is also retired. Then India is a big market for books. Especially books on Cricket. Western Cricketers well know that they don’t get the kind of attention that they get in India any where else in the world. So it was a clever move on Gilchrist’s part to include this passage on “Monkeygate” in his book.
I will present my take on whether Sachin lied or told the truth, whether he did the right thing, later.
Let us first go to the root of the issue and examine why Indians are susceptible to racial slurs more than others.
The fault lies with our society. We over respect the Western Cricketer(Westerner). Respect is an almost alien concept in the West. The Westerner is not used to it. First he looks askance at our respectful behaviour and then starts liking it and gets used to it. Simultaneously he perhaps also slowly starts thinking that if we so respect him we must be less than him.
When our leaders (eg. Cricketers) interact one to one with them on the field the Western cricketer gets rattled. He thinks, “ your whole society respects me so and you are trying to come on an equal footing with me?” He misbehaves to retain his position of assumed advantage- a fight breaks out.
World over a guest is seen as a pest. Only in India do we proclaim, “Atithi Devo Bhava”. Is there any greatness really when India proclaims that Guest is God? Some can think that we coined this clever slogan because historically we could not stop the invading armies at our doors. It hides our weakness and tries to portray it as a greatness. Not that I am against the warmth and the hospitality of this great race. I am proud if it. But I want the unseasoned Westerner to understand Atithi Devo Bhava means Well Behaved Atithi Devobhava.( The seasoned, liberal Westerner already understands this. I have known some of them openly showing deep gratitude for the respect they get in this country and admitting that they have never received such a treatment.)
If the unseasoned Westerner hasn’t understood this still, our public through its strident reactions to any accusations hurled by the West is making it clear once again. The media’s role also in this regard is laudable.
Finally Wisdom demands that we as a society also need to show a little restraint especially when we are interacting with cultures who don’t understand us. It should not be that we fawn first and then go to the other end and insult them later. Striking a balance is required. Where we retain our warmth but don’t go so overboard with it that the guest starts taking us for granted.