PV Sindhu became the first Indian woman and the second Indian to win two individual medals at the Olympics, but it was something else that captured the imagination of Indians. On Google, “PV Sindhu caste" became one of the most searched topics about the athlete. On Sunday, Sindhu beat China’s He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 to win a bronze medal at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics Games. Sindhu also became only the fourth female shuttler in all of Olympic history to win medals in back-to-back Games. She was on her aggressive best throughout the match and remained in her zone as she beat Bingjiao in 53 minutes. After her win, Sindhu said she was not sure if she should be happy about the bronze or be sad about the missed opportunity of another final but in the end, she felt she did really well.
Indians seem to agree with the last bit, but true to character, some of them couldn’t rein themselves in when it came to their inherent casteism. One of the most searched topics following her win, for the term ‘Pv Sindhu’ was her ‘caste.’ The term witnessed a 700% increase in searches.
In the past day (August 1 to August 2), the following is how Indians’ interest in Sindhu’s caste played out. The screengrab is for the search term “pv sindhu caste", when the interest over time peaked.
These were some of the related queries when it came to search term “pv sindhu caste", with a query on Sindhu’s caste with a misspelt version of her name ranking second, followed immediately by a query on “kamma caste".
The following are the regions where the search term generated most interest, with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana occupying the first and second spots.
This should come as a surprise to no one, really, seeing as this is in no way the first time that it has happened. For Hima Das, who became the first Indian athlete to win gold in the women’s 400-metre event at the IAAF World U-20 Championships, Google Trends showed how caste was the most searched “related topic” pertaining to Das. Additionally, one just had to type Hima to get the immediate search result as “Hima Das caste”.
Sindhu herself is no stranger to Indians’ curiosity about her caste. Before Das, when she won silver at the Rio Olympics, the Google search about her caste went up, once again, especially from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana region.
The caste system in India was formally abolished in 1948 and negative discrimination on the basis of caste was banned by law and further enshrined in the Indian constitution; however, the system continues to be practised in parts of India, and the Google trends is perhaps proof of how deeply rooted it still is in some parts.