Mumbai, and Lords in 1983

  • Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times, London
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  • Updated: Apr 04, 2011 23:19 IST

It's in the fitness of things that the British foreign minister has been employing a cricketing phrase in the context of that other breaking news story - Libya. "I'm not prepared to give you a ball-by-ball running commentary," William Hague has been telling reporters dying to know what the Libyan ex-spy chief Moussa Koussa has been saying to his handlers in a safe house.

The resurrection of teasing Cold War images last week could have been serendipitous but that supreme conjurer of spy tales, John Le Carre, spoilt it all by rejecting his Booker award nomination. His action was geopolitically prescient, however, at the close of the era of bipolar dystopia.

Happily, two BRICS nations play cricket and Chinese Communists bosses are trying to market the sport. So it's hardly a surprise that papers in England are reporting India's World Cup win in terms of national resurgence.

'India wakes with a sense of a nation's destiny fulfilled,' declared 'The Guardian'. Ed Smith, an English Test cricketer-turned-author with a double first in history from Cambridge, said in 'The Times', "I wonder if we will look back on this weekend in Mumbai as the beginning of the age of India - and not just on the cricket pitch."

But as 5,000 Indians celebrated publicly in Southall on Sunday (forcing the closure of the main road running through the world's best-known Indian Diaspora neighbourhood), the local MP reminded me of what the 1983 World Cup win meant for Indians in England.

"You can imagine what it was like in those days - we Indians were not at the economic, social and political stage that we occupy today, so it meant a lot to us," said Virendra Sharma. "There were far fewer Indians then and the local administration was hostile towards us. That hostility towards minorities has changed. People are really positive towards us now."

Historians chronicling India's rise will do well to acquaint themselves with Lords on a summer's day in 1983: a sea of tricolour covered the Mecca of cricket in London.


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