Why it matters that India lost

For those of you who have no affiliation to either India or Pakistan, today’s significance may only be due to the fact that today is Father’s Day.

But for those of us who originally hail from the Indian subcontinent (don’t forget, it is the Indian subcontinent ;), depending on whether your affiliation lies with Pakistan or India, today was either a day of anticipatory celebration (y’all are supposed to be fasting, okay?) or of much irritation.

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Photo Credit: Indi  Samarajiva

As a child of Indian immigrants, I am not elated by Pakistan’s victory over India in today’s cricket match. It is not the #RamadanMiracle I was praying for, nope. It’s not that I am a huge fan of India’s cricket team – I don’t even follow the sport – and two years ago, I probably would not have cared enough to even write this post. But much like the country my parents left over 40 years ago, I too have witnessed a surge in patriotism (or at least interest, in my case) for the Motherland, or I guess, given today – Fatherland.

Of course, my surge is very different from the one we see in India today.

To put it bluntly: Being an Indian Muslim (Muslim-Indian?) often comes with a lot of justifications and explanations… to those who don’t understand that it is possible to be both Muslim and Indian; and to those who think just because I am Indian, I must therefore love EVERYTHING about the country. It’s difficult to be an Indian Muslim, especially now. A part of me wants to blame the BJP for all of the country’s woes (including its loss today, lol). But the truth of the matter is: much like Trump is not solely to blame for all of America’s woes, neither is the Modi government. Both Trump and Modi do however signify a disturbing geopolitical trend in our time – an upswing in right-wing nationalistic, even violent, partisanship that just so happens to also be very anti-Islam.

Suffice it to say, I am not a fan of either administrations – and that’s putting it nicely.

Still, India’s loss today reminded me of the difficulty I find in navigating what it means to be a Muslim who also happens to be Indian. I’ve been reading a lot about Partition lately (I can has PhD?), so that might explain why today’s match aftermath has had a greater impact on me than just wanting to post a “What would Gandhi have thought?” social media update.

Perhaps, it’s all in my head. I don’t live in India, never have, nor do I ever intend to. But I am undeniably Indian. When people assume I am Pakistani, I always correct them. And even if they don’t, I always manage to insert that I am Indian (and Canadian!). I love Indian food, I love (to hate) Bollywood films, I love all the inside jokes, I love the unique culture resulting from the contributions of different ethnic & religious groups, and its history is quite fascinating (I am particularly beholden to Partition and post-Partition because its effects can still be felt today). And of course, Rajinikanth. He is, for me, Richard Simmons’s counterpart from the East. It’s reductionist to call him the “Brown Richard Simmons”. Maybe Richard Simmons is the “White Rajinikanth”? Perhaps both are equally true. I don’t mind partaking in this debate (with myself).

What are your thoughts, whether you are Pakistani, Indian, or neither? I’m particularly interested in hearing from intra-ethnic (Indian and Pakistani) couples like myself. Am I the only one who grapples with such questions as nationalism and feeling conflicted over its ramifications? Should this be the subject of my doctoral dissertation I may or may not ever write?

P.S. I am well aware that I did not answer the title of this post.

8 thoughts on “Why it matters that India lost”

  1. I have both Indian and Pakistani friends, so I was very aware of the importance of this match. While I’m not into sports, I understand that often sports are the perfect catalyst for patriotism and nationalistic friendly rivalries. Like you, I’m very concerned with the upsurge in right-wing Ultra-nationalist politics across the globe. I’ve been following the situation in India, and the uptake in violence against certain sections of Indian society like the Muslims or the Dalit is not only worrying but also quite disheartening. Thankfully, I’ve also seen Indian civil society mobilizing to reject this brand of dangerous politics and expressing solidarity with all segment of society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there are a lot of Indians that are speaking about this. I’ve taken a sudden interest in Arundhati Roy, especially since I’ve been poring deeper into Partition. Have you read her stuff?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. It is a very interesting story and Arundhati Roy is a great story teller. She tackles many important topics in it. I strongly recommend it, if you haven’t had the chance to read it already.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s on my reading list. My sis actually got it as a gift for my bday. But I want to get through my library checkouts first. Ah, so many books to read! What a problem, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

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