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Piers Morgan needs a culture lesson: Indians love to celebrate, even if they have an 'embarrassing' medal tally

India's medal tally at the 2016 Rio Olympics might be embarrassing but Piers Morgan has no right to question us celebrating Sindhu's medal.

Feature 24 Aug 2016, 19:09 IST
Piers Morgan
Piers Morgan should know a little more about Indians before commenting

British journalist and social media commentator Piers Morgan worked up a storm when he ridiculed Indians for their wild celebration on winning two medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Maybe Morgan was getting bored and desperately needed to offend someone and he found nothing better than irking a section of the people belonging to the second most populated country in the world.

However, the man who got punched by Jeremy Clarkson, and who belongs to the country that ruled India for centuries, should certainly have a better understanding of the land’s culture before jumping to conclusions.

For starters, PV Sindhu’s silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics was a matter of great pride for the entire nation, for several reasons. She became the first woman in history to win a silver medal at the Olympics, while Sakshi Malik became the first female wrestler to win any kind of medal. For a country that does not rank high on the gender equality platform, two females winning medals is a big thing, and should be celebrated as vociferously as possible. 

Another thing that needs to be pointed out here is that it is none of Morgan’s business to question how another country decides to “celebrate,” especially when he belongs to a nation that despite being one of the most advanced, came to a standstill when Kate Middleton and Prince William got married. So if a powerful democracy like England can obsess over everything related to one woman (Kate Middleton), right from her feet to the clothes she wears during her pregnancy, India certainly has the right to celebrate a rare achievement in a way as crazy as possible.

Morgan is apparently an expert on cricket (or so he says), and he knows quite well the status of a certain Sachin Tendulkar in India. If a great batsman and legend of a game being worshipped like God is not madness, then how can celebrating Olympic medals even come close? He could have said that India’s medal tally is embarrassing (the absolute truth) and no one would have said anything. But questioning the celebrations is downright unnecessary and stupid.

However, the biggest point Morgan missed out on was the fact that we are an expressive nation that does not need big reasons to celebrate. We are a country of over 1.2 billion people, and we deal with a lot of issues – right from potholes in roads to farmer suicide. This is the reason why we wait for moments, days and occasions to forget all our problems and just let our hair down. We do not need reasons to celebrate to come to us; we run to them.

Just for Morgan’s knowledge, we have a man in India by the name of Rajnikanth, popularly known to his fans as “Thalaivar,” and though everyone might know this, he is an actor by profession. When a Rajnikanth movie releases in India, particularly in the Southern region, it is a combination of Christmas, New Year, Super Bowl, the Queen’s birthday, a Beatles concert and any conceivable event in the West that draws people together.

Usually people in India are asleep at around 3 AM in the morning, but Rajnikanth’s films have a show at 4:20 AM and the festivities around it begin much earlier. It is quite a sight to behold and for anyone who thinks we celebrate too much, try telling that to a Rajnikanth fan on the day of his movie being released. Words might not be enough to illustrate this larger than life moment, so here is a little video for Morgan to watch how Indians “celebrate.”

While the self-confesssed Arsenal fan might not be able to understand what the reporter is saying in this clip, he will surely get the message and see how people celebrate something as small as a movie release. Being a Briton, it could be hard for Morgan to understand these kind of emotions, but they do exist in India and we have no qualms in embracing and parading them – on the road, in a stadium or inside a dark movie theatre.

Celebrity worship is an acceptable notion in the West as well, so Morgan might argue that star idolising is different from sporting celebrations. Hang on, the examples have not finished yet. The biggest Indian festival is not Diwali, Onam, Pongal, Christmas, Eid, Bihu or Ganesh Chathurthi, it is a wedding. Should Morgan see how people dance in certain parts of India during a wedding custom called a “Baraat,” the celebrations for PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik might seem mild to him.

There are plenty of videos on the Internet for Sir Piers to go and look in order to educate himself about how Indians celebrate something as personal and private as a wedding. So before he ridicules us the next time for our madness in celebrations, Morgan should get a detailed insight into the psyche of Indians and how much we love expressing ourselves, whenever and however possible.

India’s tally at the 2016 Rio Olympics was embarrassing; there are no two ways about that. If Morgan would have questioned India’s abilities to win medals and how sports are doing badly in the country, he would have been right. However, he barked up the wrong tree by questioning the way we celebrated Sindhu’s and Sakshi’s medals. While we are embarrassed about winning only two medals in Rio, there is no reason why we should be subdued in hailing the ones who saved the day.

Maybe if publications in the United Kingdom can stop putting out articles that body-shame women and describe how Kate Middleton’s feet have suffered due to her wearing heels, Morgan can rightfully sit on the moral highchair and call Indians ridiculous for dancing when we won medals. Till then, can we get back to dancing please, Sir Morgan?

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