It was just as well that Laxman Sivaramkrishnan did not lay the hurt, or insult, or both, on with a trowel; that would have been atypical of an Indian cricketer who has for years taken so much in his stride. The erstwhile leg-break bowler, reacting to Yorkshire’s racism row with Azeem Rafiq, simply tweeted that he had himself always been “colour-discriminated,” some instances of it encountered at home in India.
Sivaramakrishnan said, though not in these words, that he knew it would pop up now and then without knocking him base over apex. Since that had to be made a piece of news of, the media bunged in a few lines about another Tamil Nadu cricketer, Abhinav Mukund, who would have copped the sort of invectives Sivaramakrishnan must have been familiar with.
Mukund had earlier explained why his complexion had never bothered him ~ practising for hours in the sun in hot and humid Chennai gave it the colour it was ~ but there were those who would have relished victimising him for it. D Ganesh, of Karnataka, too came to be added to the list of those who had let it be known that they had not liked it one bit but there it was: you lumped what you did not like.
And that, as far as the media was concerned, was that. An inquiry dropped less than midway through, probably because too many uncomfortable truths would have revealed an aspect of India that gave the lie to the unity-in-diversity theme. But it had better be not allowed the cover of hypocrisy any longer. Southern Indians’ glory story is part of the country’s sporting evolution, in many instances, going from obscurity to global recognition, with Northerner Saina Nehwal finding the right milieu south of the Vindhyas, and is already being studied academically.
That the South has more serious cricketing centres than any other region, including the West, is an incontrovertible fact.It is just as good in hockey. In Kolkata football’s glorious past, the “best-ever” quintet of frontliners East Bengal assembled featured only Southern Indians: P Venkatesh, M Apparao, K Dhanraj, Ahmed Khan and PBA Saleh. To state that people have to justify what they are by excelling in anything is not quite rational but in India, the obvious can get overwhelmed.
A crude prejudice against a marvellously, variedly talented segment of the national population shows a basic failure to recognise its real worth, which makes you wonder if we have denied ourselves the full benefits of Southern progress. Stadiums across the country went wild when Dhanraj Pillay unleashed power and skills even on synthetic surfaces but did someone else from his part of the country get left out because he was as dark as the hockey magician but a few years adrift of complete maturity?
Has Ravichandran Ashwin been up against it as he happens to be a Tamil? Dark minds do not really care ~ and much of the baiting feigns humour ~ but India should, right?