When the Indian national cricket team took to the field for its third ODI against Australia in Ranchi on March 8, 2019, they wore military caps to show support for the Indian military against Pakistan. This was an unprecedented act of politicization of international sports on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's watch in India. Pakistan born Usman T. Khawaja, Australia's opening batsman, responded to it with a maiden century that helped his team win by 32 runs after losing first two ODIs. Khawaja then proceeded to score the series highest total score of 383 to help Australia win the remaining two ODIs and the series 3-2.
Pakistan Born Usman Khawaja Batting for Australia Against India at Ranchi
Usman Tariq Khawaja:
Usman Tariq Khawaja, born in Islamabad, Pakistan, is the first Muslim member of the Australian national cricket team. He currently represents Australia and Queensland. Khawaja made his first-class cricket debut for New South Wales in 2008 and played his first international match for Australia in January 2011.
Pakistan born Usman T. Khawaja, Australia's opening batsman, responded to Indian team's jingoism with a maiden century that helped his team win the 3rd of 5 ODIs by 32 runs after losing first two ODIs. Khawaja then proceeded to score the series highest total score of 383 to help Australia win the remaining the remaining two ODIs and the series 3-2. Khawaja was named player of the match for 3rd and 5th ODIs.
India's Sports Jingoism:
In an Op Ed for Huffpost, Indian journalist Binoo John summed up what happened in Ranchi in the following words: "No team in the history of modern cricket has worn military camouflage caps or symbols during an international match to make a statement".
What happened in Ranchi is part of a pattern of Modi-led Indian hostile actions that include an almost total boycott of all cultural and sports exchanges that have historically helped lower tensions between the two South Asian neighbors. Pakistani artists are no welcome in India's entertainment industry. Pakistan players are banned from Indian cricket leagues.
Politicization of Culture and Sports:
Modi government has completely ignored Indian parliament's foreign affairs committee report that recommended: “Taking a holistic picture, the committee are of the considered opinion that cultural, sporting and humanitarian exchanges need to be approached from a broader perspective as this could emerge as one potential area of creating peace constituencies in both the countries.”
In February 2019, the International Olympic Committee decided to suspend all Indian applications to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistanis were denied visas to compete in New Delhi.
Hindu Nationalists, led by RSS Karsevak Modi and aided by the jingoistic Indian media, are radicalizing India's population by promoting hatred against minorities. Attacking Pakistan fits in well with the Hindu Nationalist Islamophobic narrative. Madhav Golwalkar, considered the founder of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".
In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."
Indian Think Tanks:
Hindu Nationalists are aided by what Indian journalist Pankaj Mishra calls "New Delhi’s burgeoning military-intellectual complex is exacerbating rather than moderating the country’s warlike mood". Mishra is referring to India's large and rapidly growing think tank industry with many "armchair generals..marching India into trouble". Here's the relevant excerpt of Mishra's Bloomberg Op Ed about India's think tanks:
"Perched in privately funded think tanks, many of these connoisseurs of “surgical strikes” did not seem in the least shocked or disturbed that an Indian leader who has, as the Economist put it last week, “made a career of playing with fire” was now playing with Armageddon by launching airstrikes into Pakistan. Rather, they echoed the Hindu nationalist consensus that India was now finally dictating the terms of engagement with its rival — a triumphalism shattered the very next day when Pakistan raised its own threshold for conflict with India by striking within Indian territory and bringing down an Indian warplane. Eisenhower’s fear in 1961 of vested interests acquiring “unwarranted influence” is freshly pertinent in today’s New Delhi. With hopes rising that India would soon be a superpower closely allied to the U.S., as well as a strategic counterweight to China, much Indian and foreign money has gone into creating a luxurious ecosystem for strategic experts and foreign-policy analysts".
Here's an Australian 60 Minutes video about Islamabad Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja: