Let me state at the outset, my thoughts expressed below are inspired from an article of the same name by thewire.in. (Link for the same is given at the end of this piece). When I first came across this article from The Wire, I found the headline so ludicrous and preposterous that I decided against reading the full thing. Something inside me though felt that not even the leftists and ultra-liberals could be so cavalier with their thoughts. So I built up some courage and decided to read it.
It was as absurd as the headline made it out to be. The article talks about how Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been grossly underrepresented in India’s cricketing history. Cricket is one of the few things in the nation that unites the populace across caste, creed, religion and all other made-up identities. Even the most ardent Shiv Sena follower will cheer for Kuldeep Yadav in any game. Do we really need this dynamic to change? Do we really wants Jats, Gujjars, Marathas or Patidars asking for reservation in the Indian cricket team as well? The correct answer is No. Cricket has proved to be a unifier beyond cultures and by creating fault lines in a game we all so love the article might even be promoting anti-nationalism. (Yes folks, I just called them anti-nationals).
Another argument against this is what purpose does reservation in cricket serve? Why is a caste-based representation in cricket required? One can make valid points about caste-based reservation in say local politics, but why do we need the same in cricket? The article talks about how this can inspire Dalits to have heroes to look up to. This is where the writers end up justifying a flawed ideology that a Dalit can only be inspired by fellow Dalits. There are several successful Indian cricketers who did not come from prosperous backgrounds and several faced financial difficulties in their life before becoming successful. Why does a prospective Dalit cricketer have to look up to a fellow Dalit cricketer to be inspired? Why can’t they look at Ravindra Jadeja, born to a father who was a security guard and a mother who was a nurse? In fact Jadeja comes from among the most upper-caste backgrounds. He belongs to the same caste as K. S. Ranjitsinhji and K.S. Duleepsinhji, royals after whom the Ranji trophy and Duleep trophy are named? Did Ravindra Jadeja, in spite of being a Rajput not face difficulties? Can he not be a role model for an aspiring Dalit? In fact several of the current crop of players came from relatively weaker economic backgrounds, namely Umesh Yadav, Bhuneshwar Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan and Yusuf Pathan. Aren’t they suitable role models for anyone from an economically disadvantaged background?
One of the strongest arguments against reservation is the argument of merit. Anyone who has tried their hands at playing professional cricket knows how competitive it is. In such a scenario, is it really the best idea to bench a better player for the sake of a sub-standard player just because he is a Dalit? What kind of example are we laying down here? There’s a saying in team sport that you are only as strong as your weakest player. Are we really saying that a player’s talent and hard work matter less than his caste? Reservation in education and jobs has already proven this, can we at least leave cricket alone? The article does try to address this point in a farcical manner that I believe serves more to discredit its authors than in proving their point. They cite the example of Hardik Pandya who scored his maiden first class century in a Test match and not in a domestic league game. This is then taken as proof that statistics and batting averages are irrelevant as far as actual performance in international cricket is concerned. It conveniently leaves out Hardik Patel’s performance in IPL that ended up in him gaining a spot in the Indian team and decent performances in limited overs cricket catapulted him in the Test side. The writers probably knew that their argument was already flimsy and yet tried to justify it by putting up fragile arguments.
I would like to now extend the frivolous logic of The Wire. Why doesn’t The Wire have a reservation for the number of articles published on its site? Do they maintain a ratio where certain articles are published only by Dalits? What is the composition of their editorial team? How many of them are from backward castes? Why don’t they try and promote equality by ensuring that the proportion of employees they have is the same as the caste based bifurcation of 130 crore or so Indians? They conveniently advocated adequate representation based on population in the Indian team why not practice what you preach.
At last I would like to end the article on a lighter note by saying that India’s first Dalit cricketer was selected in the Indian side solely on merit and skills and not to promote a liberal utopia where we have reservations everywhere. I am talking about Kachra from Lagaan. Aamir Khan as Bhuvan picked Kachra (an untouchable from a backward class) in his team because he was a promising wrist spinner, maybe Aamir Khan already knew that Indian wickets were spin-friendly and English cricketers are traditionally weaker against spin, I doubt he selected Kachra only to advocate a case for reservation in Indian cricket.
The link to one of the worst piece of logics I’ve ever encountered:-