VOL. 29 . NO.03. march 2016
journel of socialist thought and action

Cricket British Journalism And Fair Play Rammanohar Lohia

Letter to the Editor,

Manchester Guardian (Not published by the latter).

Sir, I have sometimes been reported in your news journal for my dislike of Cricket, British statues and the English language, because they are British. I had occasionally wanted to clear up my position, but I was waiting for an opportunity that would provide me a more sympathetic hearing. That opportunity has now come.

I do not know how the majority of English-knowing Indians has taken the sharp British criticism against Indian Cricket performance, but there is at least one man who thinks that 3 days of a test are a little too much for Indian cricket, that Indian cricketeers would be licked any way with 3 days as they are today with 5 days and that a fair handicap must give the other fellow a chance at least for a draw, if not, to win. With 2 days of a test, Indian cricket will at least have a chance to draw.

I have been criticising state encouragement of cricket in my country on the grounds, first that it is a feudal game, secondly, that it is not an international game, which may bring value and recognition at Olympics and similar sports and, thirdly, that it is not able to build the body-of masses of people as gymnastics or foot-ball would. I had not so far received a hearing either in England or among English-knowing Indians, because cricket was somehow mystically believed to be a bond between England and India. It is not a bond; it would be one of the blows that would sunder us.

England has still got a leisured class. Australia and New Zealand or West Indies may not possess an aristocracy, but their expansive agriculture and pastures or tourist economy have enabled them to breed a class of menwhocan play the leisured game of cricket. India is determined to do away with fake princes and landed aristocrats that she had under British rule. Her economy will not be expansive for a long time yet to come. Her games must therefore be hockey, tennis and foot-ball and, above all, Gymnastics and swimming, which allow a man or woman to engage in a profession and at the same time to practice them at least in their amateur forms. I understand that the amateur foot-bailer is now scarce to find but that does not take away from the substances of my argument. In any event, foot-ball is much more of a British national game than cricket; one is of the people, the other is of the classes.

I have similarly been misreported on the issue of language. In fact, I like the English language as much as I like German and almost as much as I like my own. The point is not as to like or dislike, but whether a language should be used as an instrument of domination by a tiny minority over a numerous majority. I have been opposed to English not because it is a foreign language, but because it is a feudal language in the present context of India. My opposition to Sanskrit is just as vehement, when ever there is a plea to substitute it for English as the national language of India.

I do not quite know whether Englishmen at all understand the use to which their language is being put to in India. An unscrupulous native minority has taken hold of it in order to perpetuate its rule. The ruling classes of India can today be distinguished by three features; high caste, wealth and English language, and the combination of any two of these qualities makes a person belong to the ruling classess of the country. Such persons number on a rough estimate 3 millions or so. These 3 millions of native Indians sit tight and oppressively on the chests of four hundred million of their people and they possess two inestimable, weapons, a gun in the hand and, more so, the English speech on their lips.

A feudal minority has always ruled by instilling a sense of inferiority among the ruled, and this ruling classes of India do by making the masses feel inferior because of their incapacity to speak or understand English. It might also interest Englishmen to know that their language is being used in this country to push up failures at all possible examinations to 50% and more. Over half a million students have failed the matriculation examination this year, a little more than the number that has passed. Most of these failures are because of the compulsory study of English. India's ruling classes are holding on to this compulsory study, because they want to restrict higher education to their own narrow coterie and do not want the mass of the people to make a claim for the good things of life.

I could go on but I must stop. If you are interested in my views on British statues or, as a matter of that, any statues that are, I would send you such journals as have published them. Please belive me that I am no more anti-British than is the man whom some Englishman, perhaps frivolously but entirely truly, described as the last British Viceroy in India. I am a little more abreast of the changing times, that is all. The relationship between England and India would depend in the coming years not at all - on the accidents of cricket or the English language but on the enduring reality of trade, institutions and ideas. I hope there would henceforth be a better reciprocity of ideas and institutions between India and England.-Rammanohar Lohia, Hyderabad, 10, July 195 9.

Manchester Guardian's Letter

Dear Mr. Lohia, Thank you for your letter of July 10, which interested us very much, and some of which we agree with. Our own view is that the primary argument for playing or not playing cricket depends on whether or not people - Indians or Englishman-enjoy playing and watching it. On these grounds we would deny your suggestion that-in England at any rate-cricket is a game merely of "the classes." We can understand, however, the practical difficulties which, as you suggest, may hinder its -spread in India now. Incidentally, we have done our best to report the Indian team's tour here fairly.-Frank Edmead, Manchester Guardian, 20th July, 1959.

Daily Mirror's Letter

Dear Mr. Pattnayak, Thank you very much for letting us see the letter which was originally written to the Manchester Guardian, but am afraid it is altogether too long for our purposes-as you will appreciate if you look at the length of the average viewpoint letter published in the Daily Mirror- and it is not the sort of letter that can be condensed into a couple of lines. Accordingly we are returning it in case you might like to submit elsewhere.-G. H. Gray, features editor, Daily Mirror, November 6th 1959.

Dr. Rammanohar Lohia, Interval During Politics, A Sindhu Publication, Bombay. [Editor’s Note: Cricket has changed much since the time this was written]

Write your Reviews