ricketer Yuvraj Singh has retired from all forms of international cricket, ending his 19-year-long sparkling career. Yuvraj, who embodied indomitable spirit on and off the cricketing field, has been an inspiration right through his career. He gave India several memorable moments as a cricketer, and was part of many a fightback that saw the Indian team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Elsewhere, thespian Girish Karnad, another inspiring personality, has retired from life itself, leaving a void not just in acting and literature but also in the collective voice against injustice. Karnad had been vocal about many issues, including the likes of the action taken against activists termed as ‘Urban Naxals’. Right before the recently held Lok Sabha elections, the Jnanpith awardee was among the 600 theatre personalities who signed a plea asking people not to vote the BJP and its allies. He was also among the personalities who led protests that followed the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. The contributions of late Karnad and youngster Yuvraj are both vital to nurturing the spirit of endeavour and democracy in their own spheres of excellence.
Yuvraj’s contribution to Indian cricket has been immense. He was a member of the team that won the title in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 as well as the side that emerged triumphant in the 50 overs World Cup four years later. Yuvraj’s six sixes in an over from Stuart Broad from England is still one of the most discussed topics in cricket. He scored 58 in just 16 balls and followed up with a 30-ball 70 against Australia to seal India’s place in the final. In the 2011 World Cup he emerged ‘man of the tournament’. He scored 362 runs in nine games and took 15 wickets as India won the title after 28 years. He was ‘man of the match in four games’ – the only player to have achieved such a distinction in the history of the World Cup.
It is, however, Yuvraj’s stirring battle against cancer that won the hearts of the people. He was diagnosed with cancer in his left lung immediately after the World Cup. Everybody thought that his career was as good as over. But the player not only beat cancer, but after being out of international cricket for 16 months he made a comeback to the Indian team.
Karnad, in turn, has produced works that will remain in people’s minds for as long as there are movies. He brought positive vibes to the screen. The characters he has portrayed, such as the one in ‘Manthan’ made by Shyam Benegal, typify Karnad. The messaging is subtle but effective. The positive development that the character in ‘Manthan’ brings about is the kind that Karnad espoused. His was not the violent way. He raised his voice against what he perceived as injustice in a dignified manner. The country will definitely miss people such as Karnad and Yuvraj in action. But the spark they have lit is bound to inspire future generations. The politics of hatred that is spreading across the country, thanks to widening inequalities, needs fighters such as Yuvraj and Karnad to quell. The fight is both physical and intellectual. It will take endurance of the highest order to defeat the negative forces that have been unleashed. Positive examples such as Yuvraj and Karnad are the need of the hour to keep the fighting spirit alive. Seemingly insurmountable odds are out there. It will take the Yuvrajs and Karnads of tomorrow to see through the façade and counter negativity.