New Delhi: Why do Indians love Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi? Or Brazil’s Pele for that matter? It’s not just their game, claimed an article published in RSS mouthpiece Organiser this week, but also the values of “Hindu Indian society” that they apparently represent, like Messi’s “fierce” nationalism.
The Organiser article, written by sports journalist Abhishek Dubey, also countered various stories in the Western media that apparently linked Indians’ leftist leanings, particularly in Bengal and Kerala, with their fondness for Argentinian and Brazilian footballers. Instead, Dubey credited the “inclusive values” of Hindutva.
“Indians’ love for Pele, Maradona and now Messi highlights (a) major ethos of the greatness of the society and the country. The base of Indian society is the inclusive values of Hindutva. Hindu religion worships hundreds of gods and deities over the centuries and so is adaptive and dynamic. Despite having many gods and deities, followers coexist peacefully. Indian history is replete with the admiration and adaptation of what is best in the world and which mirrors the values of the Hindu Indian Society,” stated the article.
Argentina won the 2022 World Cup earlier this month, defeating France in the final, and Messi’s performance in the tournament may have enthralled fans, but Dubey argued that there’s another reason why so many Indians cheered for him. “In Messi, Indians see a global citizen who is a fierce nationalist,” he wrote.
He added that even though Messi has dual citizenship of Spain and Argentina, his loyalties were never divided. The article cited a “famous” interview in which Messi had reportedly explained why he refused to represent Spain. “I would have never played for Spain. I am Argentinian and no one and nothing can change what I feel for the Argentinian colours,” Messi is quoted as having said.
Dubey also tried to debunk claims that an affinity for Communism is tied to India’s football fever.
“From Malabar in Kerala to Goa and Bengal, if decoded the football strip of India, the fan base primarily originated around the teams of the oppressed against the oppressor. The oppressor were the colonial masters whom the local population fancied and then started loving to defeat. In a way, football became the medium for them to vent out their pent-up anger,” Dubey wrote.
He added: “When they saw Maradona’s talent and the magic of his left foot visually and in real-time, half of India’s Brazilian fan base switched their loyalties to the blue and white stripes. After this, the romance of the die-hard Indian football fans with Brazil and Argentina continues till date. It has nothing to do with Communist history, as argued by some.”
Morocco footballers & ‘Islamisation of Europe’
To buttress his case about the “Islamisation of Europe”, India-based French journalist Francois Gautier, also writing in Organiser this week, gave the example of the Morocco-France match in the FIFA Football World Cup.
France played Morocco in the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup earlier this month and emerged winner. Where sections of the liberal western press have praised Moroccan players’ assertion of their religious identity, Gautier offered a contrasting viewpoint.
“[T]he Morocco-France match gave us many clues about the radicalisation of Islam,” he asserted.
“Firstly, the Moroccan players were brutal, using tackles, to hurt and maim; while, even if they were barely touched, they would scream and writhe on the ground as if mortally wounded. They were bad losers also: to Croatia for third place, nearly beating up the referee at the final whistle. But even in victory (over Spain), what did they do? They urged on TV people to join Islam, saying: “come to the wind, come to the truth”. Is that football, is that how it is supposed to bring people together beyond religion and race?” Gautier wrote.
He added: “We know that their (French) children will be brought into Islam, with Muslim names and read the Koran . No love jihad, here it’s just happening naturally. Karma is a vicious circle: France and other countries who colonised Arabs, are paying theirs right now — once it’s paid, it’s burnt & gone; Islam is reaping the good karma of having been exploited, by coming-up in many areas, whether sports, or other fields.”
VHP wants separate ministry for Hindu pilgrimage sites
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has come up with a demand for a separate ministry for Hindu pilgrimage sites, arguing that they cannot be treated like other tourist destinations.
“Religious pilgrimage sites cannot be developed like tourist destinations because they are way different from each other in their nature. Hence, it is our demand that a separate ministry should be created for the development of religious pilgrimage sites,” VHP working president Alok Kumar was quoted as saying in the Organiser this week.
The VHP has also taken exception to many temples coming under government control and is seeking to “liberate” them.
“As per the data given to us by Acharya Sabha (a Hindu organisation), over two lakh temples across India are under government control. These temples give Rs 1,80,000 crore to the governments per year. When the governments don’t run mosques, churches and gurudwaras, why do they take control over Hindu temples?” the VHP working president was quoted as saying.
RSS-linked farm union’s grievances
In an interview with Organiser this week, Mohini Mohan Mishra, general-secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-linked famers’ union Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) aired some grievances with the BJP-led central government.
The BKS had organised its own protest rally this month in Delhi, and in the interview, Mishra outlined the reasons for it.
“First, farmers are not getting their prices at par with the cost of farming, which has increased over the years. These were the farmers, who fed the country during the period of Covid crisis without earning any profit. Therefore, the government should consider extending reasonable prices to farmers on the basis of their input costs,” he said.
The second issue, he added, was the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, which gives farmers Rs 6,000 per annum as income support.
Mishra argued that though the BKS “appreciated” the scheme, the amount had not kept up with increasing costs and should be hiked. “Then only it would be beneficial to the farmers,” he noted.
Mishra also said that the BKS wanted the government to exempt farmers from the 18 per cent GST applied on fertilisers, tractors and small technologies used in farming. “It is because farmers don’t get input credit,” he explained.
“Fourth, the environment ministry recently gave permission for Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard, which is very dangerous,” Mishra said.
However, Mishra disassociated the BKS from the protests that had led to three controversial farm laws being repealed last year. Those protests, he claimed, were politically motivated.
“It was a political protest for political gains… We were not in favour of repealing the farm laws as they were beneficial for farmers. Unfortunately, the government had to repeal those due to their pressure. We had done a detailed survey in twenty thousand villages and asked the government to implement it after three amendments”, Mishra said in the interview.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)