Why is saffron put in the dock? How can one be allergic to colour saffron? The colour symbolises the ultimate sacrifice and represents the historicity, the civilization values and the intrinsic nature of our great nation? Amidst this backdrop, colour saffron in the team India jersey competing in the world cup 2019 would have been taken as the natural corollary. Unfortunately, it’s being made an issue by some of our political parties. Is this just a sporadic outburst? Or it’s a sinister design to paint India wrongly in the global fraternity? After all, it’s world cup- where the top cricketing nations are competing on the grounds of England and Wales. Before we try to decode the obvious, the entire reference to the context needs to be understood.
Before the beginning of the ongoing World Cup in England, the ICC had introduced a new rule asking team to sport home and away jersey in the tournament. The relevant portion of ICC rule reads:-‘For televised ICC events all participating team will be required to provide for two different coloured kits, except for the host country who has a preference in the choice of colour and may, if it chooses to do so, provide only one coloured kit to be worn in all matches throughout the event. In advance of the event, the teams will be notified which coloured kit will be worn in each match.” The idea behind the orange jersey was to have one for the Indian cricket team which was different from blue, the colour which England team players also sport. Colour options were given to BCCI and they chose the colour combination that looked the best to them. The whole idea is to be different from blue as England also wears the same shade of blue as India. The design (orange) is taken from India’s old T20 jersey, which had orange in it. This jersey was designed from something that already existed and not something completely new that fans don’t identify with. From where did the manufactured controversy originated?
The political spin to the entire matter was unfortunately given by the mainstream political parties like Congress and Samajwadi Party. The grand old party said that Narendra Modi government was trying to saffronise the country. Maharashtra
Congress MLA MA Khan said:-‘This government has been trying to see everything from different angle and colour for the past five years. This government is trying to lead this country towards saffronisation’. The matter is the clear pointer as to how the grand old Indian party which ruled the country for years has started abhorring everything Indian and has come to its present state of party in existential crisis. Indian tricolor with the colour saffron right on the top was designed by Pingali Venkayya- a freedom fighter and congressman. Various so-called national flags had been used by members of the Indian independence movement prior to the independence being achieved in 1947. Venkayya’s version was first designed for the Indian national congress and subsequently modified in 1947. As per the national newspaper The Hindu-‘Pingali Venkayya was an authority in geology, agriculture and also an educationist who set up educational institutions in Machilipatnam. He, however, died in poverty in 1963 and was largely forgotten by the society and by his own party, the Congress’. This is not surprising in the ecosystem evolved by the party for the years, where everything is credited to one family and the contribution of all others are given royal ignorance. It was only 46 years after his death that a postage stamp was issued to commemorate him in 2009.
Apart from Congress, another party which thrives on pseudo-secularism- Samajwadi Party also echoed similar views. The party leader Abu Azmi said that the BJP, which has saffron-coloured flag, was trying to paint the country saffron. Modi wants to paint the country saffron’. The allergy to the colour saffron is palpable. The force oneself to ask a million dollar question- to what extent the party can go whose elected representatives refuse to sing Vande Matram, develop cold feet on the national anthem and finds prettiest of excuse to get allergic to colour saffron?
There is a discernable pattern in all this. The underlying subtext of the pattern is unwillingness to accept the verdict and find every reason to show the emerging order as the consequence of the verdict in poor light. The fact that international forum are also not spared shows the restlessness of those with the vested interest. This gets palpably clear when one considers that the change in the colour of the jersey is purely technical issue and choice of the colour of the jersey is an independent right of the concerned board and the team. There is the overwhelming subtext to the overall pattern. This can be seen as the outcome of the struggle between the orders of two India. The ‘Old India’ fed and fattened with those having vested interest and having abhorrence and disdain for its culture, legacy, values and identity over the centuries. The ‘New India’ which takes pride in its culture, legacy, values and identities over the ages. No country could call itself great unless its takes pride in its intrinsic identity. Issue made out of the team India saffron jersey needs to be seen in this overall light. Saffron may be put in the dock by the falling old order, but the emerging new order sees the colour with pride.