Indo-Pak matches flare racism in children: Survey

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New Delhi: The exciting India vs Pakistan clash during the World Cup literally brought the world to a standstill. The fiercest of rivalries between these two countries to compete against each other in sport naturally creates a perfect storm for hype, anticipation and mudslinging. Remember the famous Mauka mauka ad that poked fun at Pakistan’s poor record against India in the previous World Cup editions that seems to have offended our neighbours.

Cricket is a religion in India but when it comes to India vs Pakistan match, it is not just the matter of winning. Here self-esteem plays the major role among the fans of both the countries. Moreover if it is a World Cup match, emotions are much higher.

However, the copious amount of stereotyping that happens during the clashes is not limited to seniors alone. A study by Delhi-based Early Childhood Association (ECA) on how early the “seeds of racism are sown in young children” suggests that some of the statements parents make while watching the game seem to reinforce stereotypical notions of Pakistan being “India’s enemy” in their children.

A report published in Times of India said the day after the India-Pakistan World Cup 2015 match was telecast on February 15, when ECA researchers talked to children about who played, who won, and then went on to discuss Pakistan and Pakistanis, most of the children described to researchers how their fathers passionately supported India during the match.

“When we continued to talk to them a good number of them seemed to relate the word Pakistan with ‘terrorist’. Around 25 per cent thought that all Muslims were Pakistanis and a number of them said their parents also told them that Pakistan fights with India,” says Swati Popat Vats, director of ECA, an NGO which works towards holistic education for children.

According to the survey results, what parents say definitely influences children to a great extent – like with the case of the cricket match where children began associating the match between the two countries as more of a clash of cultures and religions than a sport.

With 7000 children from Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai in the age group of 2 to 6 years as sample of study, most of them answered that Pakistan fights with India when asked about if India fights with Pakistan. “That was what their father told them,” Vats said.

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