Apparently, it is a crime of not knowing someone like Sachin Tendulkar. You will incur the wrath of over a billion people, even if you are a five-time grand slam champion. It has been almost 4 years, but I am still breaking my head to understand what mobilized the whole sub-continent of India to wage a social media war outrage over Maria Sharapova.
Okay the backstory: In 2014, Maria Sharapova exited Wimbledon with a fourth round defeat to Angelique Kerber. In the post-match presentation, she was asked about the sportsmen who were watching her play from the Royal Box at Center Court. She immediately recognized David Beckham, the former English professional footballer but could not recognize Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian professional cricketer, whose name is synonymous with almost all cricketing records. Cricket fanatics took it to the Twitter and Facebook to express her ignorance.
So was the incident with British Airways, when Sachin himself took it to the Twitter to complain about British Airways carelessness in losing his baggage. That is fair, expressing the discomfort and sharing it with others are the perks of being in a social world. However, when the airline’s social network response team inquired about the passenger’s full name and address so they could transfer his bag to his destination, it outraged Indians who again took it to the Twitter.
What was Sharapova’s mistake in not knowing a cricket player? Being from a non-cricket playing country (which is, although seem a smaller group of countries, is actually the majority of our world) and very less of exposure to the cricketing sport, it is quite unlikely that she would know much about cricket, let alone the star batsman. Above all, and this is most important, she does not have the moral obligation to know. Do we really know all the Indian sportsmen and women? If you are not from Charkhi Dadri district of Haryana, you might not have heard about Lila Ram who gave us the first gold medal in the same 1958 Commonwealth Games where Milkha Singh ran the 440 yards to bring us the gold. Moreover, if you are not an avid squash enthusiast, Dipika Pallikal might not remind you as an Indian sportsperson but as cricketer Dinesh Karthik’s wife. What about Joginder Sharma who bowled the infamous last over in the inaugural T20 World Cup against Pakistan in 2007. You probably get reminded of him every year on September 24 by Facebook posts highlighting MS Dhoni’s brilliant decision but not the courage of the young pacer. Oh by the way, he has not played a single international game of cricket after that final match. He is one among the hundreds of cricketer and sports-persons who do not get their fair share of farewell or treatment that we reserve for the elites and the infamous people.
And for the British Airways incident, here are some statistics. Every single day, the airlines and airports transfer more than 10 million bags across the six continents. Among the 10 million bags, less than 0.6% of the bags are being misplaced. In addition, from the 0.6% of the bags, only 0.1% of them are permanently lost. This has reduced from 2% in 2007 to the current 0.6% and is virtually projected to reach zero bag lost in the very near future. The airlines and aircraft industries are trying working over their toes to make this happen.
From the country, which did not believe in violence for its independence, I do not know how such hatred and social violence is dominating our day-to-day life. I have nothing against Sachin Tendulkar, cricket or the Indian enthusiasts. I did spend my homework nights watching the ‘Desert storm’ of Sachin Tendulkar in the Coca Cola Cup of 1998. It is just the importance of having equality across the sports and people in general. Sometimes all we need is to think twice before reacting.
Anyone who is sharing posts in social media are journalists. Be it the simple review of your least favorite restaurant or the ones on racism, every single one matters and have an impact on someone else’s life. I totally believe in the freedom of speech and journalism. If there is no check and balance of power, the world will never be a leveled playground. However, one needs to strike the right balance between freedom of speech and interfering in someone’s personal life. The same journalism that brought Vietnam War and Nixon’s presidency to an end, literally killed Princess Diana.
Which side are we in?