Racism, Cricket and India

If a random trawl of the blogosphere is any indication, Indian players travelling to Australia this winter should expect to cop more than a bit of heat in retaliation for the repeated barracking of Andrew Symonds by Indian crowds. Crowds at the fifth and seventh one-dayers in Vadodara and Mumbai taunted Symonds — Australia’s best performer by far and player of the series — with repeated cries and gestures seen as being racist by the Aussie players and media (Hindustan Times dated 19/10/07)

Gestures made by section of crowd in Wankhede StadiumRacism is not a subject that crops up much in India — when it does, it is usually to comment on how Indians are its victims, rather than its perpetrators. So it is with bemusement that we see Indian cricket fans being accused of racist behaviour against the visiting Australian team, specifically against one of its star players, Andrew Symonds. He has been the victim of jeering and ridicule and on Wednesday, five fans were detained by the police for indulging in such shameful activities at the Mumbai match.
This said, is one sensing a sort of snobbish put-on among both the Indian spectator crowd and some of our players? And, one wonders whether this snobbishness has anything to do with our new found status as a fast growing Asian economy and the richest cricketing country in the world? Are we coming across occasionally as the new upstarts in the block?
Racial abuse is prevalent across the sporting world of Australia, including its cricket grounds, says the report titled ‘ What’s the Score? A survey of cultural diversity and racism in Australian sport’ that was released recently by Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). On Australian cricket, the report points to “racial sledging” of South African cricketers who “were referred to as kaffirs by a small section of spectators” at Perth in December 2005. It says that cricketers from Sri Lanka were “subjected to calls of ‘black c——’ at Adelaide, and adds that an ICC security official was punched by spectators in Melbourne.
But we should not worry about the Australians — we need to set our house in order. The BCCI, which rules Indian cricket, will have to now look at the issue seriously to conform to international regulations. Remember, we owe a lot to Cricket for giving us lots of moments of pleasure when we were not what we were, not very long ago, and it is our duty to see that we do not take the game into disrepute in the country or even internationally. Vadodra and Mumbai, apologize or give up your right to watch cricket on the ground; BCCI take action more for the love of the game than for love of money.

3 thoughts on “Racism, Cricket and India

  1. Ottayan

    It is racists no doubt. I feel our team also contributed to aggravating this by not coming out and asking the fans to respect all players especially Symonds, irrespective of his supposed on field misbehaviour.
    BTW, I am not offering excuses.

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  2. kraken

    Racism is a problem everywhere, including Australia and India. When I was a research student in India my African and Fijian friends copped a lot of racial taunting, much like that directed at Symonds. Colour consciousness is rife in the Indian psyche, with light skinned favoured over dark (just look at your Bollywood industry or take a stroll through your matrimonial adds). Get off the grass chaps and face up to this universal blight, no less an issue in Mumbai than it is in down town Perth. By the way, the source of the ‘kafir’ taunts directed at South African players was white migrants who felt more comfortable in South Africa under Apartheid. It is a pity there predilictions on race were’nt looked at more closely as part of the migration assessment, but, then, that would also have excluded many of the white population over the dacades (and a good many other besides). We need to take a universal approach to the application of human rights on the basis of race, religion & ethnicity, and avoid making cheap points about the relative superiority of the attitudes of different cultures, isn’t it!

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