Former India pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji has said that racism and discrimination is prevalent across the society and isn’t just restricted to cricket.
“Everyone, not just cricketers. There is no border for discrimination. At all levels - be it school, college, or any industry for that matter – there is a tendency among some people to target someone’s perceived weakness. A bully goes after easy targets," Balaji said in a chat show Homerun with AV to sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel Gethist Creative.
“There are plenty of rules and regulations that seek to prevent that. However, until and unless people of different classes, races, and nationality recognise the seriousness of the problem - like they have in the case of the COVID-19 - this can’t be solved.
“The fear for our lives has led to greater emphasis on social hygiene. However, how are we going to quell the virus [of racism and discrimination] that has contaminated our minds? Which mask are we going to wear to stop that?"
Balaji added that dealing with discriminatory behaviour of any kind starts from home, saying that assigning nicknames which are derogatory in nature must stop as it harms the child psychologically.
“Such culture starts from our homes where elders use fat-shaming nicknames to address the child. If a kid is on the heavier side, it’s not the kid’s problem. I have seen many such instances even within my own circle.
“They think such nicknames are endearments, but they don’t understand how it affects the child. People of all classes are guilty of it. Over many generations, this has come to be seen as acceptable.
“You asked me about colour-based discrimination or racism; I believe that there is racism of all kinds, discrimination of all kinds. We must at least ensure that there is social responsibility ingrained in the next generation.
“That can happen only when we don’t indulge in any form of bullying. Calling someone with a supposedly funny nickname may draw a few laughs at that particular point, but we can never truly know the extent of psychological trauma it may cause the person who is at the receiving end.
“You are called all sorts of names based on your face, size, and height. Such bullying is 100 percent condemnable, and anything that psychologically affects children should not be encouraged at any cost.
“There needs to be greater sensitation of the problem, and it has to start from the elders. Only then can the children learn by example. So many generations have suffered from such behaviour; it is about time we put an end to it."