The talk of the town in India (and by ‘in India’, I basically mean Twitter and Facebook) over recent weeks has been more or less surrounding homosexuality and wayward uttering in relation to that by the Ministry of Home Affairs (later withdrawn, may have been unsaid, let’s leave it to speculation) and the Supreme Court. That is if, unlike me, you choose to discount Kapil Sibal’s literally-hefty presence at the 2012 World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.
Following the Delhi High Court’s move towards decriminalization of homosexuality, most spoken words not toeing the line of the High Court are (rightly) demolished and thrown to street dogs. However, I must draw India’s attention to a more urgent decriminalization that needs to be paid heed to, in retrospect. It is something that has gone unnoticed for years, and it is already threatening communal harmony.
People who don’t support one of Manchester United/Chelsea/Arsenal/Liverpool, the England national football team and the English Premier League.
Apart from pervasive poverty, widespread hunger, eye-reddening/lung-wrenching pollution, disastrously poor and blindingly un-improving standard of living, faltering infrastructure, limited edition Mountain Dew neon packs which Salman Khan puts to use during power cuts in Bombay, Poonam Pandey in a saree and other indicatively obnoxious things life can offer us, India suffers from the malaise of a fanatical fanbase of people that strictly, as if part of a secret code, supports one of the four ‘top’ English football clubs only, especially Manchester United, despite knowing microscopically little about the game of football or holding an interest as passionate as browbeating in an expensive sports bar just because your Dad or your friend with a wealthy Dad or your girlfriend with a wealthy Dad can pay for your drink. And mind you, this fanbase is multiplying faster than right-wingers can crack yet one more poorly-constituted “RSS is responsible, hehehaha” joke and laugh amongst themselves and retweet it between their Twitter accounts.
If there’s one thing India is excelling in producing more than engineers without girlfriends and MBA graduates with Arindam Chaudhuri’s blessings, it is fans of these four football clubs. It is imperative that somebody from the UPA Government steps up (except Suresh Kalmadi, because he’ll just make lakhs out of it all) and decriminalizes people who don’t support an English football club and the England national team and give them a chance at living like a proud-free-democratic-BharatMata-worshipping (but not necessarily Juan Mata) Indian. In fact, a popular joke goes like this – A guy who knows nothing about football enters a sports bar on a matchday, orders a drink, sits in a corner and observes quietly for 10-15 minutes. “Dude, which club do you support?” “Manchester United, bro”. Okay, this joke is yet to gain popularity. But you get my point, no?
Like all fundamentalists who leave clues, it is not too difficult to sense a pattern here. It’s got to be a Top Four English club, logically followed by the world’s greatest national team, the England national team and all-round gaga-googoo-ing over the world’s greatest football league, the English Premier League. Like monstrous Indian trucks that consistently honk ringtones of old Hindi film music, with ‘Horn OK Please’ and ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’ written behind them. Of course because, the rest of the world is just foreign. England, English and everything related is home. Or at least gives a feeling of ‘home’. Except, not really. Say a word against this pattern and expect a reaction that oversized Mayawati statues and die-hard Bahujan Samaj Party-themed-inner-garments-wearing fans would give you if you were giving an anti-Mayawati speech in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh.
India must call for a special post-Winter-pre-Summer Parliament session that decriminalizes people who don’t support English football clubs, before power groups endorsing the cause, call for a clause to be inserted directly into the Constitution of India. Given how the ‘reasonable restrictions‘ clause on freedom of speech is the most ambiguous thing to happen to India since Kalyan Singh’s politics, a pressure group may be just what it takes to make supporting a non-English football club illegal on Indian territory (for now, this doesn’t include Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, sorry). While this requirement may not be as old as the archaic Section 377 clause, it still calls for urgent implementation before all the streets in India are painted either red, red-and-white or blue (89% complete, according to unconfirmed statistics). Before it becomes necessary that to be an Indian, one must support a top-four English team, the England national team and the English Premier League in that particular order, the Government has to make a move.
Just like how living in Gujarat comes with a pre-condition to go numb in admiration of the state’s uber-popular and cannot-do-any-wrong Chief Minister (and lesser Gujaratis like myself have to go on a trip to Daman or Diu to breathe fresh air), living in India comes with an absolutely streamlined pre-condition of supporting one of these top four English clubs. Because c’mon, can you afford to not be a part of the ‘crowd’? Obviously not. Like this guy who once said “Dude, supporting Arsenal suddenly made the anti-social in me disappear. People found me so much more acceptable!”. “If we as a herd end up in a Manchester United sports bar, then that is our democratic right!!”, screamed a guy outside a Manchester United sports bar, who was so drenched in red color that it appeared as if he was a walking advertisement for Asian Paints.
And this is true from my personal experiences too because I’ve had fanatics hold me at gunpoint, threatening to drag me to the nearest Passport Office since I made the mistake of revealing to them that I do not support an English club. They let me go after saying “You are a very strange Indian!”, after I fooled them into believing that I’ll have to stay alive as I’m the guy responsible for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Twitter account, which as we speak is busy solving the nation’s umpteen problems. Go ahead then, India. And do what is required. Or at least, care to give the rest of your people a minority quota in an IIM or something. If the UPA just sits back and watches the action unfold as has been happening for the past two decades or so, then they might just have a new rival the Indian people might prefer over Rahul Gandhi.
England for Prime Minister!