At the age of 24, a well-built, long haired boy, with the looks of a warrior, stood tall against Pakistan in only his fifth One day match to play an unforgettable knock of 148…..The young lad from Ranchi redefines how cricket was played in this country as he took the strong Pakistani bowling line up for some serious hammering around the park.
Ten years down the line, he is one of the biggest sporting icons in the world, has tasted all the success one could have wished to, and, more importantly, has taken Indian cricket to new heights, which no one would have ever thought off. Getting India its second ODI World Cup after 28 years to winning the first T20 World Cup or putting his country to the number one position in the ICC Test Rankings, he has been a true soldier for India.
Yes, we are talking about our very own and India’s favorite son, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who exclusively caught up with Drcricket7.com expert Sunandan Lele for an independence day special chat to share his extremely personal side about his patriotic feelings and what his country means to him…Excerpts from the EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF INDIAN CRICKET TEAM CAPTAIN MS DHONI
MS Dhoni talking to Drcricket7 on Independence Day Special
Sunandan Lele: Mahi, today is 15th Aug – a very special day for all of us and we happen to be in England…share your feelings with us ?
MS Dhoni: Well, there are two special days for us that come every year – one is the Republic day and the other one being the Independence Day, the day when we got our freedom. Right from your school, you are taught the importance of these days have it in your life and the constitutional rights that you get due to them to express yourself freely. These are very special occasions for us and have been remembered for generations and will have an equal importance in the lives of coming generations as well. Yes, we are in England but that doesn’t matter. We are someone who like to share our happiness with others and don’t like to have any kind of bitterness towards others. It is a very important day for us as we remember the sacrifices of those who gave their life to get us the freedom, but at times not many realize how many of them lost their lives to get us this independence.
S.Lele – Mahi, it has been so many years since we got our independence and we have heard so many stories about our freedom struggle…Tell us your favorite story which touches your heart the most?
MS Dhoni: Our freedom struggle was very long and to pick any one incident will be difficult for me as each incident contributed in its own way in getting us the independence and all are memorable to me. But I feel the spark came from the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Though the entire nation was not able to come together at the same time to be a part of that movement…I guess the biggest issue in those days would have been the lack of ways to communicate as there wasn’t any technology and it was hard to spread the message to the whole nation. Had there been any ways to communicate we might have got independence a bit early as our soldiers were well-equipped and were raring to fight. Without it you can imagine how they would have struggled in collaborating the plan of actions. However, I feel the 1857 movement was a crucial one as it provided a spark to the start of a very long struggle which later involved important contributions from common people as well.
S.Lele – We not only want to talk about our independence but would also like to know which are those patriotic songs that give you goose bumps and your heart starts pumping after listening to them?
MS Dhoni : I think we are the only nation which has so many patriotic songs and all of them are very heart-touching and meaningful… so it is difficult to pick one but I feel Vande Matram from “Anand Math” movie is quite unique as it is a very soft song, has its own pace and is very different. I just love it !
S.Lele – Mahi, which is that one incident from our freedom struggle that makes you think that a lot of injustice was done and one wishes he was there during that period so that he could have done something for the country?
MS Dhoni : I think the Jallianwala Bagh incident is a quite unfortunate one…so many people who were peacefully demonstrating at one place were gunned down so callously without giving them a chance to stop the demonstration nor were they asked to leave. More than 1500 demonstrators lost their lives in it. After this unfortunate incident it strengthened the non-cooperation movement which later had an impact on the ruling country as they had to face a lot of problems. After this ill-fated incident, our entire country united and therefore the non-cooperation movement gained more strength.
S.Lele– Mahi, we still get tears remembering the Jallianwala Bagh incident…Which song would you like to dedicate for that heart wrenching incident?
MS Dhoni : Ae Mere Watan ke Logon is something that I would like to dedicate as it is a very heart touching song and describes that ill-fated incident. I have heard that you get very emotional when you visit that place and you can actually imagine the picture of incidents that would have happened there at that time and how difficult it would have been for people to escape from that place.
S.Lele- This song was sung by Lata ji and we hear that this song brought tears in the eyes of our first Prime Minister Sh Jawahar Lal Nehru too…..Mahi, as you mentioned that communication would have been a big problem in those times and many people lost their lives in our fight to get us freedom…Which movement do you recall that got the whole nation together in its freedom struggle??
MS Dhoni : I think, the spark or the trigger for the freedom struggle came from the 1857 movement and gained more strength with the Dandi yatra or the Satyagraha movement…This was the first time that we came together and went against the ruling party peacefully to express ourselves. It was a very simple way of putting our things across by showing tax resistance on salt. I think that yatra of approx. 390-400 kms was a demonstration that a lot of things that were happening were wrong and we would slowly get up against these things. It started in a very positive way which slowly enrolled the entire nation together in it and as a result the movement got stronger and stronger.
S.Lele : You said it correctly Mahi …When Mahatma Gandhi ji left Sabarmati only 5 people were with him but by the time he reached Dandi, the whole nation was behind him. At this moment which song would you like to dedicate for that movement?
MS Dhoni : There are many patriotic songs which highlight the sacrifices of our people and at the same time there are also few songs which shows the positive side of those incidents and defines the character of our nation. Once such song is Ye Desh hai Veer Jawano Ka……It is a beautiful song which is fast paced and is a very meaningful song to me. I think the songs before 70s and early 80s used to have lot of meaning and essence, especially patriotic songs.
S.Lele: Mahatma Gandhi ji played such a crucial role in our freedom fight with his principle of non-violence but there were also many legendary freedom fighters who were very revolutionary in their thoughts and contributed immensely…what do you have to say about them?
MS Dhoni : Every person has a different opinion and belief. Mahatma Gandhi ji believed in non-violence and he had a different approach in taking the Independence movement forward, but at the same time we had people like Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and others who had the beliefs of tit for tat and wanted to be more aggressive in their actions. They carried forward and completed some very difficult tasks in the most dangerous of situations. I think they played an equally important role in providing us the independence. If we recall one particular incident, Lala Lajpat Rai was hit by a baton during a demonstration due to which he passed away later on. That incident prompted Bhagat Singh to plan a revenge with his friends, which he later took it. This revenge in itself was a big event in the Indian history. Then, the incident of parliament happened, and finally when Bhagat Singh went to jail he protested against the treatment meted out to the Indian prisoners by the jail authorities by continuously fasting for 116 days…the jail authorities tried everything to break his fast but were unable to do so …so we saw different sides of a same individual but the motive was only one and that is our independence.
S.Lele – The memories of our freedom fighters, martyrs makes us so proud…which song would you like to dedicate to our martyrs?
MS Dhoni : I would go with – Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle ugle heere moti…..
S.Lele – If we talk about today, you’ve been to many countries and have experienced different cultures ….what you think about our own country. What are the special aspects of our country?
MS Dhoni : For me, everything is special about my country. Of course, there are many things which we all do not want to have but despite that we are still doing so well, after considering ours is such a diverse country with different cultures. Even after this diversity we all have some specialty and whenever you go outside and interact with other people and then compare it to our culture, then I think there will be very few cultures which can come close to us. The way we accept things, the way we respect our elders, many people are in fact surprised when we tell them that we stay with our parents. On the other hand, we can’t even think of staying without our parents or leaving them.
These are few little things which makes us special. For an example, even though it is a normal thing, if we you compare the hospitality of our hotels with abroad, you can’t even think of them coming close to us. Right from our housekeeping staff to restaurant guys, the kind of hospitality they provide to us is simply incomparable. We are a very developing nation and there are many things which we are really proud of. Yes, we are behind in few things from other developed countries but I believe we would soon catch up with them in growth.
S.Lele – Isn’t the Indian team also a perfect example of unity in diversity. Do you feel proud of it ?
MS Dhoni : Yes, of course.. Indian Army, Indian Cricket Team as well as our other sports teams too have the unity in diversity factor as we all come from different places, speak different regional languages. However, once we are on the ground, all these things doesn’t matter to us and our only motto is to perform well as a team and win matches. Same is applied to the Indian army where you could see a Sardar ji as a commanding officer of a Tamil regiment and speak their local language by heart. So, there is a lot of similarity and these two are good examples of it.
S.Lele – You’re very right that Indian team and Indian army have no mention of caste or religion in it and indeed it is such a great thing. Share your feelings which you get when you represent your country, how proud do you feel?
MS Dhoni: For me there is not anything bigger than representing my country. There are not many people who have the privilege of representing their country. No matter how much money you earn in your life but the feeling of representing your country can not be compared with it.
S.Lele- We are an independent nation and we don’t have to struggle now…however we must not forget our brave soldiers who are keeping us safe all the time…
MS Dhoni : Yeah, definitely….whenever we talk about war or see it on TV, it is shown in an altered or glorified manner but the reality is that it is different and there are lot of sufferings and is very tough on those who are facing it and defending their country. We are not someone who initiate a war but definitely when there is a problem on us then our jawans are fully capable of protecting us. Whenever you meet them and whatever circumstances they are in, they would always greet you with a big smile even though they are under so much of stress.
S.Lele: Have you been to Siachen?.
MS Dhoni : I’ve not been to Siachen but have been to J&K border areas where the conditions are extremely tough as after September it gets terribly cold and living there is full of difficulties. However, our soldiers are more than willing and happy to do their jobs there. They too have their families like us but still they are serving our nation. It is because of them that we live in a safe environment and are relieved by the fact that there is someone at the border who will keep us safe from any outside danger.
S.Lele: How do you feel looking at the TRICOLOR….the colors of the flag, the Ashoka Chakra..What sort of thoughts cross your mind just looking at it?
MS Dhoni : It is a very proud feeling and cannot be compared with anything especially when you are representing your country and you see your flag and hear the national anthem during matches, it completely fills you up. Looking at your flag, the color white immediately reminds me of peace as we are a peaceful nation . Then you have the green color which represents prosperity and greenery in our country. But at the same time it also reminds us for the need of a green and healthy environment today considering there is so much of a global warming and development happening. We need to give a clean and healthy environment to our coming generations. Saffron describes to me courage, energy and passion to do things whereas Ashok Chakra symbolizes time and progress in life as without any motion or movement, there is no life.