Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Simian Menace

When did the Indian fan go racist? Or was it driven out of proportion by media hype?

Simian Menace GETTY Images

Does anyone among our famed one-billion-and-counting cricket kingdom doubt that, as a spectator sport, the Game has undergone a sea-change? A decade ago, who'd have thought you'd see fans with war paint (be it the national colours) on their faces, or sinewy young maidens doing the hula-hula as sixers went out of the park. The standing ovation, the 'well done, mate' placards and that heart sinker—the collective gasp—is all history. Today's fans—more and more of them anyway—are in it for "the experience", the popcorn-munching, Shahrukh-sighting, me-too-on-the-video-wall one. So is it any surprise that among these new-fangled fans, quite a number have turned out to be boors? Sure, 'atithi devo bhava' has faded as a creed, but who'd have thought we'd travel to the other pole? That four Mumbaikars would be arrested for racial taunts?

Some questions rear their ugly heads in the wake of the Mumbai ODI incident that targeted Aussie cricketer Andrew Symonds: has the Indian cricket lover turned the page, gone from fan to fanatic? Have some become racist as well? At least one cricket historian was heard arguing that it's alright for Indians to be racist considering "the whites" have been racist for a century and more.

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