World Cup 2019: 'Saffron is the colour of India'

KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, INDIA - 2019/05/29: A crafts man busy printing an Indian jersey at a workshop in kolkata as Cricket World Cup 2019 is round the corner. (Photo by Avijit Ghosh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

An unseemly controversy has broken out over the rumoured colour of the Indian cricket team's 'away kit' in the ongoing cricket World Cup.

In this tournament, the ICC has come up with, á la FIFA, 'home' and 'away' outfits for each tea. The different colours, it is usually explained, add an extra zing of interest to the viewers who sometimes may be bored of seeing their teams in the same colours always. As with most things in sports, this was done with an eye on TV audience.

As per this, the Indian team has reportedly opted for an outfit that has some orange shade to it. Though the outfit has not been officially released to the public, social media platforms have a couple of designs that are rumoured to be India's 'away' uniform.

One looks totally orange while the other has an orange border to it.

Now opposition leaders are outraged, because of course the choice of orange shade is yet another attempt at 'saffronisation' by the ruling dispensation at the Centre. Samajwadi Party leader and MLA Abu Azmi has made this allegation.

Of course, it wasn’t the government that chose the colour, but the BCCI. But who’s reading the fine print?

As per ANI, which quoted an ICC source, "Colour options were given to BCCI and they chose the colour combination that looked the best to them."

Also, India has previously worn outfits that had swathes of orange at the borders. So any conspiracy theory of 'saffronisation' is dead on arrival.

But the bigger issue also needs to be thrashed out one and for all. Saffron is not the colour of the BJP. It is the hue of its centuries-old culture and heritage. It is not something to be shunned because one political party uses in its flag.

"Just because the Congress party flag, in its colour scheme and pattern, is similar to the national flag, we have not stopped using the latter," says Madhu Khare, a professor of political science. "Saffron is the colour of India. It is steeped in its history. You can't change that fact."

Almost every country is partial to certain colours due to reasons of tradition and culture. Yellow and green is Australia. Red is China. So is saffron to India.

"The opposition to the BJP make some people speak against orange (saffron), forgetting the fact that the colour is hardwired into the DNA of this country," says Mridula Pandey, a sociologist.

“Disowning its history is never going to help any country,” she adds.