Independence Day 2018: Raising good citizens is better than just abusing another nation, says Gautam Gambhir

On the occasion of 72nd Independence Day, cricketer Gautam Gambhir along with his wife Natasha and daughters, Aazeen and Anaiza, pose for an exclusive photoshoot for HT City and talk to us about what freedom means to him.

cricket Updated: Aug 14, 2018 15:25 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Gautam Gambhir,Indian Cricketer,Natasha Gambhir
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir with wife Natasha, and daughters (Photo: Manoj Verma/HT)

Talking about issues that matter and involving himself in patriotic initiatives, cricketer Gautam Gambhir has made his voice heard time and again. Adding another feather to his cap, the cricketer, on the 72nd Independence Day, will launch and turn RJ for his own prime-time show — the Bharat Positive Show, on Fever 104 FM, starting 9am tomorrow. As tricolours sweep across India, Gautam tells us what “being patriotic” means to him, and how he and his wife Natasha instil the same feeling and zeal in their young daughters, Aazeen (four-and-a-half) and Anaiza (one).

It’s not easy to feel patriotic every single day of one’s life. How do you make sure that these sentiments stay strong?

It all depends on the definition of being patriotic. Sometimes, being patriotic is equated to how much you can abuse Pakistan or how many patriotic songs you are listening to on August 15th or January 26th or how much one can shout on a debate on a news channel. I think merely calling names to any country borders on jingoism. You can feel patriotic by saving power, saving water, paying your taxes, not being part of corruption, respecting other communities and religions, being respectful towards women...this too is being patriotic. Me having a tri-colour on my cricket helmet is symbolic but how I raise my children can also encapsulate being patriotic.

Even after 71 years of independence, we still, at a lot of places, feel trapped and not-so-free. What’s that one social evil that you want to banish?

It is tough to eradicate one aspect and hope for a better society. There are a lot of things that need to change. First step is intent. I often joke that we are a “talking nation” and not an “acting nation”. For last 70 years, people have been talking from Red Fort, in Parliament House, in Vidhan Sabhas and now on prime time TV and social media. Enough of talking, now lets walk the talk. We make the system, so let’s not blame the system for everything. Secondly, I’d like to see 100 per cent socially literate India. Please note I am seeking “social literacy” and not a superficial, literate India, which claims to read and write but is not allowed to think. If our lot gets socially evolved, we can surely curb population and select our leaders/representatives judiciously. Unfortunately, at the moment, our leaders can control us through religion, caste, community and even beef! It is embarrassing.

Natasha Gambhir with her older daughter, Aazeen.

Being a young father, how do you teach your daughters, the meaning or patriotism?

It’s very simple. For starters, me and Natasha make sure we respect those who work for us at home, in my dad’s office and also at Gautam Gambhir Foundation. The respect for fellow human beings is utmost important. We stop at red lights whatever time of the day we are driving, keep our surroundings clean, not waste even a grain of food especially when we are with Aazeen and Anaiza, not waste water. I think if both my daughters never use the word “servant”, “driver”, “guard”, I would say they both love their people and hence will love their country too.

Have you and your wife spearheaded any cause together?

Planting and adopting trees is one of the causes that Gautam Gambhir Foundation has undertaken. Pollution is a huge challenge in Delhi and we are trying to counter that through our humble ways and means.

On the family front, how do you celebrate ‘being Indian’?

To be honest, we just do simple things so that we can inspire the little ones. I hope they are watching their daddy and mommy. There are no over the top celebrations or singing nationalistic songs....ah yes, we always stand whenever national anthem is playing and we are not at all embarrassed doing so.

You represent Indian cricket. Is there a patriotic feeling on-field?

Like I said, whenever I call spade a spade I feel patriotic. Being Indian is about doing all the right things, which never harm anyone else. I just follow that mantra.

We see so many patriotic films being made these days. Do you think when celebrities take charge, they can bring about a change in the mind-sets of people?

I am sure film industry and cricket do make an impact. Hence I’d urge more and more of my teammates and stars of the film industry to share their experiences. Especially film industry, as they have immense following. Personally, I would like to see a biopic on the late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Swami Vivekananda, Mother Teresa. I don’t know if it makes commercial sense but it will surely inspire a lot of us.

Tell us a bit about the Bharat Positive show that’s being launched on August 15.

Bharat Positive -- as the name suggests -- talks about the good things that are happening in our country. There is too much negativity, too much disgruntlement, we are always on the edge. The show takes a simplistic and positive view on our surroundings. We don’t claim to reinvent the wheel but we will surely try to bring about optimism in the air.

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 13:23 IST