Kolkata: It is ironic that on the eve of the ninth anniversary of India’s much-celebrated 2011 World Cup win, Yuvraj Singh, the tournament’s MVP, had to actually tweet his patriotism.
Such is today’s world where social media can cause havoc. Irrespective of the credentials you possess and the achievements credited against your name.
But why did Yuvraj, who retired last June after a frustrating 23-month wait for an India recall, have to basically declare that he was a desh bhakt?
Because an initiative taken by Harbhajan Singh, a teammate in the 2011 World Cup, found Yuvraj putting out a video appreciating the “bahut achha kaam” being done by former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi’s Foundation (SA Foundation), and appealing for donations to help it fight Covid-19.
Despite being such heavyweight performers for India, Yuvraj and Harbhajan got trolled as there’s a section in India which abhors anything to do with Pakistan.
Also, Afridi has hardline views on Kashmir, and his stand is not much different from that of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Both are rigid on that front.
However, when it is emphasised that despite the on-field rivalry, relations off the field between the Indian and Pakistani cricketers have been excellent down the generations, why crucify Yuvraj (and Harbhajan)?
Indeed, why politicise?
The points Yuvraj made
Yuvraj’s message/appeal, in fact, was as far removed from politics as chalk and cheese. He made three points: (A) This is a time to stick together and every government is doing its best to fight the pandemic; (B) The SA Foundation is engaged in plenty of good in the rural areas and is bringing succour to the needy; (C) Donations may be given to the SA Foundation as well as YouWeCan, which comes under the Yuvraj Singh Foundation’s umbrella. YouWeCan and its partners have already raised a handsome amount.
Surely, there could not have been any logical reason for Yuvraj to be hauled over the coals by the troll army.
Some even went to the extent of wondering if Yuvraj (and Harbhajan) had become ISI agents! For absurdity, if not anything else, such tweets took the cake.
Perhaps, Afridi’s tweet thanking Yuvraj and Harbhajan is what probably infuriated those with an agenda. His tweet included: “…Both yourself (Yuvraj) and my brother @harbhajan_singh are huge pillars of support; this bond shows love and peace transgresses borders when it comes to humanity…”
‘I didn’t set out to offend anybody’
Clearly taken aback by the trolling, Yuvraj took to social media Wednesday. His response: “I really don’t understand how a message to help the most vulnerable gets blown out of proportion! All I tried to achieve via that msg was to help ppl in our respective countries by providing healthcare…
“My intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am an Indian and will always bleed blue and always stand for humanity. Jai Hind.”
Bottom line is that Yuvraj reiterated he would “always stand for humanity”.
Contacted by ThePrint on Friday, an initially reluctant Yuvraj said: “To be honest, I don’t wish to drag the issue. I didn’t set out to offend anybody. Rather, if any NGO is doing commendable work, let it carry on with the good things.”
A Yuvraj confidant was more forthcoming: “It’s sad that Yuvi got trolled… He has, however, learnt to move on from such things. Life is about going forward.”
Yuvraj’s own initiative
Yuvraj added: “Please do mention that YouWeCan, Paytm and Lifebuoy have together raised around Rs 1.78 crore. We intend providing masks, sanitisers and soap to the frontline health workers…
“Right now, my focus is not on what has happened (needless controversy), but on the combined initiative of the partners. We are committed to doing our bit in defeating Covid-19.”
Yuvraj defeated cancer in early 2012, so he knows what a big fight is all about. Knows what it takes to come out on top.
Details are being finalised, but the partnership between YouWeCan, Paytm and Lifebuoy should benefit health facilities in 10 cities to start with — in all probability, the ones most affected by the pandemic.
While procuring masks and soap has been easy, getting sanitisers is turning out to be difficult. At least till now, one understands.
Cut to Afridi, who looks set to have a career in politics sooner rather than later after a somewhat mixed innings in cricket…
With so much attention on the SA Foundation, just what is it all about?
Driven by the ‘Hope Not Out’ motto, the SA Foundation has done unusual work. For example, facilitating the repatriation of Pakistanis imprisoned in the UAE, extending support to “hardworking and deserving policemen”, and distributing rations in the Tirah Valley, bordering Afghanistan.
Besides schools in Sindh, the SA Foundation has started a hospital in Kohat, which has been applauded, among others, by Prime Minister Khan, who is familiar with setting up hospitals.
Kohat is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Prime Minister Khan’s party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, first came to power many summers ago. Afridi is based in Karachi, but his roots are in the province.