why we need reservations in cricket?
Nissim Mannathukkaren published an article in the Hindu, about how our men’s cricket team is lacking Dalit and Adivasi society. He emphasized the need for correcting this mistake by introducing the Quota system. He even referred to South Africa’s quota system for a better understanding of this insight. And just expected people’s reaction towards this was held hostile. It received responses which said that this idea is dangerous, a menace and absolute madness respectively.
There was a flow of opinion which clearly described that reservation is quite a resemblance to begging. Although the caste-based discrimination system has seen itself as a revolting history, talking about facts and figure reservation is a way of giving perks to someone undeserving?
Although it is least expected to have untouchability in this modern era, around 27% of people are practicing this according to India Human Development Survey. India is still a country where people are killed if they marry someone of upper-caste in the name of honor killing. There is an example where a person was killed for practicing marriage out of his caste in one of the most advanced states of India, Kerela.
REALITY OF RACE
It is centuries old story where caste oppression has seen in various forms and it is still present at the bottom level of hierarchy in our society. Of course, Dalits and Adivasis have taken up the bottom line despite reservations clearly indicating the inefficiency in solving old socioeconomic position.
This is not a surprising fact that our cricket team is lacking a man of this caste. Just imagine that from such a long time no Dalit has played for India. And even though Dalit website has put up the hoardings on a website claiming that some players are Adivasi or Dalit, no player came across publicly about their identity and this proves how fear-stricken people are about caste oppression.
It is well evident fact that Dalits and Adivasis comprise of a quarter of the entire national population and that is why it is hard to digest the fact that they being equal to entire America’s population has zero or near zero contribution in cricket.
In contrast to our nation, the African-American population in the U.S. which includes categories related to slavery and racism has given once in a lifetime kind of players. Despite the racism barrier, the sportspersons of this country run into the hundreds. Remembering the times of 1947 where African-Americans were not even allowed to participate in Major League Baseball and its affiliated leagues. They have really come a long way in making racism bend down in front of them.
Whereas in India, the majority section of players is belonging to upper caste. In test matches, there were around 50-60% of Brahmins which only constituted 6.4% of the population. The best example of upper caste domination was seen in the times of Sydney Test, 2008 where there were 6 Brahmins out of 11 players.
While we are busy criticizing the idea of reservation, we have also ignored that upcoming cricketers were Yadavs and OBC’s which was possible because of the reservations in jobs and education. Researchers like Gaurav Bhawnani and Shubham Jain have presented the fact that Indian women’s cricket team is presenting more marginalized sections thus completely removing upper caste domination due to the fact that most players have erupted due to their job reservations in Railways.
Thus it was not for a long time that marginalization was seen as a mere luck or coincidence. The lousy comment from many people that players are playing as an Indian only was baseless. Because then the question arises that if everybody is just playing as an Indian, then why there is a majority of 60% being upper caste in the team. The cricket team cannot belong to a few social groups. If our nation is the largest democracy in this world then the cricket team of such democracy needs to be more democratic.
The whole idea of merit was sent to the gutter by the public. This can be clearer by the story of Anil Gaurav and Sachin Tendulkar. He was once Sachin’s captain. While Tendulkar continued to rule over cricket lovers and was also called God of Cricket, Gaurav was lost into darkness. His identity was perceived as someone rose from slums just to become coach of some players chosen by Achrekar. Gaurav commented on this by stating “Background is everything.”
We are not indicating that there are some conspiracies which led to no involvement of Dalits and Adivasis. It works without being in a notice. The most unconscious ways will pop out while eliminating them. An Australian cricketer named John McGuire puts up the unconsciousness part by saying that people will say, it is not a race thing, we are not racist, but the bias which has been fed in their system from childhood will not leave them and this will lead to no selection of someone belonging to other caste or race.
There is another story where Usman Khawaja who is Pakistani born Australian stopped playing finally because of the same rant he heard for years. He has listened to this all his life that he could have played for Australian if only he was not black/Indian/Pakistani.
We really need to put up sense across our minds and need to fill Indian cricket team with diversity from all over the country. If we fail at this, certainly this time we would fail in broadening regional diversity too. There was a recent case where counsel argued before the Supreme Court that the northeastern states have failed to provide 11 players for a Ranji trophy.
Our nation has deciphered wrongly for the part that democracies are based on the concept of merit. It cannot hold true for the nation having such different background with a different section of minorities. There are some nations which are doing exceptionally good for the uplifting the minority section. Canada University has seen no quotas ever but there has been a remarkable push for increasing the aboriginal people and racial minorities in the faculty. Likewise in the US, organizations like The Institute for Diverse and Ethics in Sports are pushing their efforts for minority representation. The condition of African-American players are at a dignified position, thus the focus has shifted towards Black representation. The Supreme Court of US has also confirmed a special verdict where race can be used as a criterion to take admission in college by seeing positive benefits of having a racially diverse student population.
Australia conducts an aboriginal programme in cricket where there has been an increase from 8k to 54k in the time duration of half the decade. It is counted as a significant achievement in a country of just 3% indigenous people.
Thus our nation India badly needs to have a tectonic shift in their mindset and practice. We need to understand and acknowledge the huge nature of caste discrimination and its effect on sports. If we can understand the differences, then only we can understand to think of the measures and ways to counter-attack at it. If the time we are spending on debating whether quota system is right or not is spent on destroying caste, we would not need the quota system in any sphere of life, including cricket too.