In 1950, Independent India's Constitution banned discrimination on the basis of caste, and in an attempt to correct historical injustices and provide a level playing field to the traditionally disadvantaged, the authorities announced quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for scheduled castes and tribes.
If you still live in this country, or are part of its diaspora, you will know that the caste system still lives on as a social construct, even if it has been 'abolished' institutionally.
We already knew caste is one of the biggest factors in matrimonial ads, besides your skin complexion. Turns out that some folks in the country also want to play cricket only with people from their caste. The need for this exclusive group was so much that there is a Brahmin Cricket Tournament that happens every year in Hyderabad. This year was no exception.
A poster of 'Brahmin Cricket Tournament' which happened at BSR Cricket Grounds in Nagole, Hyderabad this year has been making the rounds on Indian Twitter.
One of the conditions on the poster clearly mentions "Every player should carry their ID proof compulsorily and no other caste players are allowed."
The dates for the tournament state 25th and 26th December 2020, which means the tournament took place already on Christmas and Boxing day.
News18 reached out to one of the numbers listed on the poster, and they confirmed the tournament took place and that it isn't a year or recurring event. They added that the event took place with authorization of local elected bodies, and all Covid-19 restrictions were kept in place. They mentioned that the proceeds for the event went to "a local private NGO" and they donated a major sum of registration money for the cause.
The poster, which went viral on 27th December, the day after the match ended, did not go down very well on Twitter.
Am I surprised? No! I grew up in this city so I know how all pervasive and regressive the Brahmin elitism is (my own extended family practises modern forms of untouchability). But how are we letting this divisive mentality foster, @KTRTRS and @GHMCOnline? https://t.co/fS2T0YI7hw — Lasya Nadimpally (@nlasya) December 27, 2020
Exclusive cricket tournament for brahmins. Imagine this, but with education that’s at least a 1,000 years of subcontinental history right there. https://t.co/xYkKwxrJXR — Raj Shekhar || রাজ শেখর (@DiscourseDancer) December 27, 2020
"Brahmin cricket tournament" "No other caste players are allowed" Sure...tell me caste isn't a problem today. I guess this is the first time I've seen it articulated openly but this is every cricket tournament no? (Also every company, every decision making body no?) https://t.co/Q56ObZs67c — Dr. Aarti Shyamsunder (@Aartideetoo) December 28, 2020
The Brahmin Cricket Tournament will be won by the Team which can give the most Potent Shraap. Ideally, the winning prize should be the entire team collecting Bhiksha from the spectators and blessing them pic.twitter.com/yqHChUT4OM — Joy (@Joydas) December 28, 2020
This may be the first cricket tournament of this kind to start the conversation on Twitter, but it isn't the first one to take place, even in recent times.
A site called Cricheroes which describes itself as "an app for the local amateur cricketers of the world. It allows you to score your local cricket match and broadcast scores online just like an International match," has a dedicated page to the Brahmin Cricket League 2020 scores.
In 2017, The Tribune reported that a Brahmin-only tournament was taking place in Jalandar. It too, was for a cause: "To end drug menace." The article describes the event which was taking place "A tournament of the Brahmins, by the Brahmins, for the Brahmins. Each player of the 24 participating teams from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan, and every member of the organising body — the Bhargav Cricket Association, Punjab (BCAP) — is a Brahmin."
Velivada, a Dalit website which documents stories and helps organize collectives reporting on the event found that a similar tournament took place in 2015.
Caste-ism in India, or specifically, in cricket isn't a recent problem. In 2017, Ramdas Athawale had called for reservations for SC, ST in Indian cricket team.
Popular cricketers, too, over the years have reflected their ignorance of caste privilege. Sachin Tendulkar posted pictures of him wearing the 'Janeu'- a thread worn by Brahmin males. To prove he is a 'Rajput boy', Ravindra Jadeja goes around wielding swords. Yuvraj Singh once referred to his former teammate Yuzvendra Chahal as 'Bhangi' and later claimed he didn't know the caste implications.
In an opinion piece about the call, Dr. Rajesh Komath who is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, had written "Cricket is a game where eleven Brahmins and upper castes play and eleven million sarvajan and bahujan fools watch and eleven hundred fools in the upper caste media comment and analyse. But, the question of giving the opportunity to everyone and to make it more representative is important to make the nation more democratic in all spheres of life."