Harsha Bhogle is one of India's most loved sports broadcasters but of late, he has also found himself involved in controversies. In 2016, he was criticised by Amitabh Bachchan and was later, in what could be an unconnected event, was discarded by BCCI's official broadcasters from the commentary team.
A few days ago, he also got engaged in an apparently ill-tempered exchange with Sanjay Manjrekar when the latter suggested that Bhogle's questions about the pink ball not being easy to spot by the batsmen is due to him not having played international cricket. At that time, the popular commentator received the support of the ordinary people.
But now, Bhogle is facing the ire of fans himself for apparently 'disrespecting' Ravindra Jadeja. This relates to the post-match interaction he had with the two batsmen who took India to victory in the final ODI in Cuttack.
Jadeja and Shardul Thakur presented themselves for the interview. The commentator decided to start the interview by talking to Thakur. The medium he chose to ask questions to the pacer was the English language. But then, when the time came for talking to Jadeja, Bhogle shifted to Hindi. The left-handed all-rounder also obliged by speaking in Hindi but then, shifted to English mid-way.
Bhogle then shifted to English for the rest of the questions. But fans noticed the sequence of events and severely criticised the commentator for thinking that Jadeja would be unable to answer questions in English. Troubled by this, the veteran broadcaster took to Twitter to offer an explanation.
"Okay, since I have been flooded with responses on this .... In a post-match presentation, you always go in the language the player is most comfortable in. I've known Jadeja for 10 years now and so began in his language. The moment he indicated he was good to go in English, I shifted," Bhogle wrote on his timeline.
However, this explanation isn't fully convincing. Jadeja is not new to the circuit and has spoken in English several times before, both to Indian and foreign interviewers. On top of that, his English seems to be better than many other players in the team. What made the 'offence' of Bhogle more serious is the fact that he chose to speak to Thakur in English and then shifted to Hindi for Jadeja.
What's wrong with Hindi?
However, there is a larger philosophical question that needs to be asked and is being asked by many. Why is speaking in Hindi, an Indian language, an 'insult'? Is Hindi inferior to English? Does someone not being able to speak in English suggest they are a lesser person? Certainly not!
So, why is there all this kerfuffle? The fact is that while no one will openly accept this, people do consider those who can't speak English as less sophisticated. It is one of the terrible hangovers of 200 years of English colonial rule. Hopefully, as the country becomes stronger, this inferiority complex related to the language will also disappear.