“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,” Lakshmipathy 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?” the former Lakshmipathy Balaji said.
Lakshmipathy 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,” the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) bowling coach added.
Laksmipathy Balaji had a brief international career but his career high points were scintillating performances in the historic 2003-04 tour to Pakistan. The Chennai-born fast bowler ended up playing only 8 Tests and 30 ODis in a brief international career.
“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.
We must at least ensure that there is social responsibility ingrained in the next generation: Lakshmipathy Balaji
“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,” Lakshmipathy Balaji said.
Lakshmipathy Balaji also talked about his younger days and shared the time when he felt humiliated after failing in class 7. The former Indian pacer also said that children should not be put under pressure by parents for their performance in school.
“I was 12-13 when I was failed in class seven. If you ask me, repeating a class at a certain age can be incredibly humiliating. I felt it acutely because of social pressures and the realisation that I had let down my parents and caused embarrassment to them. That particular phase affected me a lot psychologically,” he added.