NEW DELHI (AP) — An international cricketer has slammed the obsession of some of his Indian countrymen with fair skin, saying he's long been targeted for abuse because of his complexion.
In a series of Twitter posts, including one long statement, batsman Abhinav Mukund said people had been "posting abuses" and "saying absolutely derogatory things about the tone of my skin."
The Times of India newspaper posted quickly posted a story on its website under the headline "Hurt by online abuse, Abhinav Mukund slams racism in tweet."
The 27-year-old Mukund clarified later Thursday that his social media remarks had nothing to do with his Indian teammates, tweeting: "Guys please don't turn this into something else. It has absolutely no connection to anyone in the team."
Mukund is with India's national cricket team in Sri Lanka for a series involving test matches and limited-overs internationals.
Cricket was introduced to the subcontinent during the British colonial rule, and a deep fascination with the game spread across the diverse region and helped India emerge as the global super power of the sport.
Discrimination is widespread in India, where fair skin is often considered more beautiful and superior, while many who belong to the traditional lower castes in India's ancient system of social hierarchy have darker skin and are seen as inferior.
"This mindset is a colonial hangover that Indians fancy for white skin," Indian sociologist Ranjana Kumari said. "This kind of mindset is perpetuated by films and by products marketed for making skin white. We have allowed all this in our country. This is a big mistake. This is totally unacceptable and deplorable."
Mukund, an ethnic Tamil from the southern city of Chennai, said he plays and practices outdoors under the sun and "not once have I regretted the fact that I have tanned or lost a couple of shades."
Mukund said he posted his statement on social media because he wanted to raise the issue now in the hope "this can result in a change in our mindsets!"
"Obviously with the rise of social media it has gone to a magnitude that I see people hurling abuses left, right and center at something I have absolutely no control over," he said. "Fair isn't the only lovely or handsome guys!"