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Racism- An Issue To Contemplate October 20, 2007

Posted by Karan in General.
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The recent incidents in the cricket grounds of India have provided enough food for thought. Racism- An issue which has often plagued world sport, but cricket has largely remained untouched. What Andrew Symonds faced – was it a case of racism? Let’s first look at the dictionary meaning of racism – “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.” Now- were the crowds at Mumbai, Nagpur or Baroda trying to assert that the Indian race was superior to the Australian? Or that blacks (Symonds happens to be one) are to be looked down upon? I suppose no, especially considering the fact that Indians themselves are coloured, and players like Brian Lara, Viv Richards etc have found amazing receptions in India. Besides, a land which has seen the struggles for Independence against the British can hardly be termed ‘racist’. That Andrew Symonds is a black Australian was a mere coincidence- the reason why he’s been targeted by the crowds are his unbridled aggression and in-your-face attitude. As a fan, I know what feelings an average Indian harbors for the not-so-polite Symonds, who’s been the face of Aussie aggression for some time now. His statements and on field behavior have hardly helped matters. I remember the sixth ODI. The match was at a terse position, and when Irfan Pathan hit him for a boundary over mid wicket, Symonds immediately walked down and confronted the batsman. Now this was ridiculous, and uncalled for behaviour, especially in a series which had already seen a lot of bad blood. Besides Pathan is one of the soft spoken guys in the Indian dressing room. This is not unusual on the part of Symonds and Hayden (a white player who luckily or unluckily did not play at Nagpur and Mumbai). That’s how they play their cricket, and unfortunately go scot free most of the times. Now you cannot expect the crowds to ‘encourage’ such players. I remember, even in the Hyderabad ODI, there were chants of “Hayden sucks”. On the other side of the hedge, players like Brett Lee have always been loved an adored by the crowd. Their gentlemanly attitude has always helped matters. Hence, the chants against Symonds cannot be termed ‘racist’. Agreed that the crowd could have been more sensitive, but raising such a hue and cry over this issue is baseless.

Coming to the larger issue of racism in the Indian society, it depends on how you define racism. Going by the conventional definition, probably there is hardly any racism over here; but looking carefully, in a sense, Indians are among the biggest “racists” (if we can call them so) in the world. The higher ups in the so called social ladder always look treat the lower downs with contempt. Servant maids, beggars etc have been treated shabbily for a long time now. There are still bad vibes between some sections of North, East and South India. East Indians are always suspicious of the others. The recent massacre of Biharis in Assam was a blot. Chak De India highlighted the difference between South Indians and North Indians wonderfully well in a particular scene. Go look at any matrimonial section of a newspaper- and you’ll see it. “Fair girl required for bridegroom- education no bar!” It’s unfortunate, but true that such differences do exist- even 60 years after Independence. However, one must note that the inequalities and differences have reduces, especially with education and prosperity. The best example would be states like Gujarat and Maharastra, where I have personally seen maids being treated very well. Cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore are also testaments of the same, with people from different regions and sects working hand-in-hand. Probably, with increasing levels of education, we’ll do better.

Comments»

1. Anshul Bansal - October 20, 2007

I personally agree with you on this. Indians know how to play a sport with all the fair spirits and respect a game. The reason why Symonds being targeted by the crowd demands no reason, thanks to his behaviour on field. Australians are well-known for sledging and mind-games, that form a part of their strategy.
Coming to the social racism, yeah it do exist in India and its a long way and requires efforts on the part of the people to get away with it.

A good post…. requires a sensible treatment!! [:)]

2. mythalez - October 20, 2007

racism will eventually disappear when the populations become quite mixed and you find ppl of all races everywhere .. and even better when it would be tough to distinguish who belongs to which race 😛

3. Manish Arora - October 20, 2007

Well, I do agree that this was all because of his on-field behaviour ……. Otherwise, no such incident has ever been reported in the history of matches played in India … but yeah, people should refrain from doing this now as this is giving a wrong message to the world.

4. abbulu - October 21, 2007

Nope increasing levels of education wont make a difference ..lots of educated people actually support racism with out-of-the-blue logistics 😐

Why apart from u and a few others , folks from our own IIIT subconsciously exhibit some form racism everyday of their lives ……… 😦

5. Aniket - October 21, 2007

It doesn’t make too much of a sense to me. Tomorrow if Sreesanth plays retard in England (which he most likely would), and the English spectators call him a ‘Black Indian’, would you still say that he got what he got because of his on-field behaviour? Aussies may not be gentlemen on the field, but that doesn’t authenticate anyone to make fun of certain features which are specific to their race.

“East Indians are always suspicious of the others.” I think it’s wrong to use universal quantifiers for any community. It gives all the wrong signals. I’m sure even you will agree.

6. Karan - October 21, 2007

@Anshul, Thanx!
@mythalez Thats true to an extend, but can you say that for London? In spite of a mixed race living over there, we still have racism I suppose, thanx to the recent terrorist attack.
@abbulu, yeah and thats unfortunate. However, I still think that education will help in eradicating the same, at least to an extend. At least, thats how you can explain its waning effects at various places.
@Aniket. Do you think anyone, forget the players will stay quite if someone calls them “black Indian” . THAT would be racism, as you’ll be explicitly discriminating on the basis of race. Indian spectators never called Symonds “black” or”inferior” or whatever. If England spectators jeer Sreesanth without calling him “black” or whatever, I don’t think we’ll term it as ‘racism’. Nobody in India made fun of “features of Aussies” as you’r saying so. Better verify your facts.
As for the “east India comment”, the wordings, as you say are probably wrong. But unfortunately, the situation, which is of everyone’s making is that people at various other places are viewed suspiciously.

7. Aniket - October 21, 2007

Yes, nobody in India would remain quite if somebody calls us ‘Black Indians’. There are certain reasons behind not remaining quite in such a situation. And for similar reasons, the Aussies protested against the Indian crowds’ behaviour.

Indian fans singled Symnds out, called him a ‘Monkey’ and made monkey like sounds when he was within earshot, and made money-like gestures. e.g., this http://www.smh.com.au/news/cricket/symonds-greeted-by-monkey-chants-yet-again/2007/10/17/1192300859647.html?page=fullpage The men making these gestures seem to be educated people who know what they’re doing, and the gestures they’re making are standard gestures for offending black men. This is racism, whichever way you look at it. And atleast some Indians agree. e.g. this man here who writes for a site called cricinfo.com. http://content-www.cricinfo.com/columns/content/current/story/316219.html

8. Varun - October 21, 2007

well…in a way isnt everyone a racist? at least i am. when i meet a gora (racist!! racist!!) i do think ‘gora!’. i would try and treat him the same way as i would anyone else but i dunno if i really do manage that. and i suppose i would expect the same from someone else. i mean…”cmon!! ur a dravidian, its on your face, ppl WILL notice it!!” also, dont ppl treat those of a similar background or with whom they share some kind of history differently then anyone else? its the same thing.

9. Karan - October 22, 2007

@Aniket, So you’r saying that the Indian fans targeted Symonds racially and not because of his on field antics.. So how would you explain Indian fans calling Inzamam-ul-Haq ‘Aalu’. Now that is a similar instance to this, but you call this ‘racism’ just because its a black Australian involved here? I am not trying to justify the actions of the spectators, it was certainly rude.. However, I’m saying that you cannot call it racism (especially going by its definition). Especially considering the motive behind it.
@Varun. Yeah, I tend to agree with you. Actually, meant something similar when I said that we are racists.

10. Namrata - October 22, 2007

I second you on the stand that education can serve as a key to give people a better perspective about issues like racism. As for arent all of us racists in a way – well the thing is that when you discriminate someone on basis of his/her skin color its termed racism but treating someone nicely based on his/her skin color without really disrespecting the other person isnt termed racism. So going by definitions doesnt really serve the purpose.I guess being nasty is being nasty.No justifications for that.I wish the crowds all over started treating sports and sportsmen for what they are good at on the field.Fab post.Keep blogging!

11. Pankaj Saini - October 23, 2007

I don’t belong to this world……..reading the comments you’ve got……….. i am forced to say that i know some people here who have advised me strongly on how to conduct myself in presence of Southies (i feel ashamed to use this word). Whether to talk to a girl coz she is a south indian……. and now people profess lectures on racism…… c’mon people shed this hypocrisy and blasphemy………. stop giving advices and stop maintaining double standards…….. i rarely find your lectures, driven by souls …… on contrary they sound shallow and hollow to me………..

but kudos to karan for bringing this topic to light…………

if people feel offended by my comment they have right to feel so……(and it’s not a out of blue observation……… go around …….. you’ll get to know….)

12. Vamsy - November 2, 2007

racism should never be tolerated at any cost. if such an incident what symonds claims has really happened(no one knows) i feel its a shame to our country. remember guys the uk government apologized to shilpa on the big brother episode. something like that must come from our side.

13. Vivek - November 10, 2007

Wow!! I loved the post…
Not only is it enlightening but the way you have put your views (and those of a learned Indian) and observation is simply awesome.

@Mythalez: Rama, I c your point man. I am sure it’s different in England, but over here in Chicago, I just don’t see a tinge of so-called-racism(given a great deal of Mexicans and Polish and Indians themselves). The only racism you can expect is from native Indians 😀

Karan, hope to have such mature writings from you more often 🙂

14. Aparichit - November 14, 2007

AA mi je tumhar chin chin chin …!!!!!!

15. Ron - February 27, 2008

yeeo iiiiii lovee youuuu, ii think racism is gaay

16. armando - February 27, 2008

black people are the shiiit


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