"Nope. Who is that?"
"He is the captain of our national hockey team."
"How about Jonah Lomu or Kieran Read?"
"No idea sirji. "
"They are amongst the all-time legends of rugby."
"Cool.. So what?"
A few days back a Russian tennis star responded similarly to a question, "Do you know Sachin Tendulkar?"
Big deal, one would think. But, alas! All hell broke loose online. Irked SRT fans ransacked the internet, defaming and cursing the unsuspecting Maria Sharapova. Innumerable trolls were created within minutes and flooded facebook timelines. Tweet after tweet were posted mocking the young sportswoman-cum-model. The term 'atheist' suddenly found a new definition. #WhoIsMariaSharapova began trending worldwide.. Some 'loyalists' went to the extent of smearing Sharapova's official FB page with pro-Sachin chants.
This is what the 'new' India has grown to become, sadly. One would expect a more educated population on the web. But this episode was just one of the many instances of how volatile and jobless 'apun ki public" is. People just wait for an opportunity to channel then long pent-up frustration on a nought issue.
I do agree that being in the field that she is, she ought to be in the know about colleagues in other sports - at least the legends at that. After all she knew Bekham and Jordan (thankfully!). But would the British have reacted similarly had she refused to recognize a personality like Bekham?
Indeed, SRT is an irreplaceable legend and a 'God' for Indian cricket. Fans should have sneered at the comment; instead their feeling of insecurity and inferiority (something which we, Indians, develop naturally) came to the fore. Both these personalities are stalwarts in their own right. The little master would surely not endorse the hullabaloo, being the person that he is.
Thankfully, another online faction rose almost immediately to show that sense still prevailed - at least in a small percentage of webizens. Many articles and blogs came up in defense.
The issue was, of course, put to rest peacefully but it did serve as some food for thought (and also gave hungry surfers a dose of humour!).