What do you call a cricket fan who hurls racial insults at a player? the answer is, a nice middle class uncle-ji who is showing his true colors. This particular incident is from Bombay, and exactly the same thing had happened in Vadodara. At that time the explanation given by the chair of the BCCI was that the crowd was invoking Hanuman! This photograph taken by Getty Images photographer Hamish Blair certainly does not say Hanuman worship to me. Its just good old fashioned hate speech. I agree with Mukul Kesavan:
It’s silly and deluded to look for anthropological explanations that will turn racist behaviour by Indians into something subtly different. Cricket writing by Indians in English sometimes makes the mistake of thinking of the “average” Indian fan as non-English speaking and therefore naïve and unsophisticated. This assumption makes it possible for “us” to explain “their” behaviour away as a kind of unschooled brutishness that is unfortunate but not wicked. This is why Blair’s photograph is so important: it shows you upwardly mobile men – who probably discuss the virtues of one malt whisky over the other, who possibly holiday abroad, whose children certainly go to private schools that teach in English – using one of the many international codes they’ve learnt in their cosmopolitan lives, the Esperanto of bigotry. The mudras they’re making aren’t derived from Kathakali : they’re straight out of the international style guide to insulting black men.
There was a time when Vivian Richards was as well liked as Kapil Dev. What happened? Were we always like this-vis a vis our obsession for fair skin, and caste based discrimination. Or did our minds get re-colonized with the rise of potato chips and computer chips. Or did we forget that we used to have empathy with those who came from previously colonized countries. All of the above, none of the above?