MIT Study – Cricket to Bridge Gap between Castes

Can you guess what’s invasive in India like caste? Love for cricket! What you want to tell when both are brought together in India? It turns out a lot.From January to July 2017, 1261 men from 14 to 30 years in India from 8 gram panchayats in Varanasi with similar numbers of OBC, General, and SC/ST group residents participated in tournaments for money.

Conducted by Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab from MIT, the outcomes of this socioeconomic experiment show that it leads to more cross-caste friendships as compared to caste-based discrimination when people from various casts collaborate for the same goal.

Led by Matt Lowe, an economist, study is the first which shows that the result of this contact between castes relies on the interaction. According to the researchers, “Collaborative contact promotes the enthusiasm to interact with men of different castes, increases efficiency, and cuts own-caste favoritism. To be clear, adversarial contact doesn’t have any positive impacts and it can also have adverse effects.”

When it comes to choose the gram panchayats, one of the major criteria was that they need to have hamlets based on caste. When 48% of cricket fans played in the tournament over the past 12 months hit the field, the people assigned to several teams may make more friends from other castes, and choose more teammates from other castes. It can add ability over caste when building teams and engage in more cross-caste team.

According to the study, having all the cross-caste team members instead of none raises several other-caste friends, while having all the cross-caste opponents rather than none reduces the number of friends by 5.5.

What about own-caste favoritism? The players who voted one to represent from each team would be sent to get professional coaching in cricket. According to the study, general castes present the most own-group favoritism in terms of voting, after the OBCs. On average, General castes rank someone 0.78 positions lower from another caste. This out-group bias is more than the effect of vote getting full two-standard deviations worse in batting, bowling, and fielding ability. The own-caste SC/ST favoritism is statistically insignificant and small. It confirms the overall asymmetry in discrimination. But it was found that collaborative contact can reduce the favoritism by around 33% in voting and adversarial has no impact.

The study also tries to decode the myth of ability in cricketing. According to the researchers, the OBC players don’t differ mostly from General castes in any ability measure. Like with other arenas, the gap of performance can be related to changes in opportunities. The batting order and the bowlers, teams may show up favoritism to one caste on others in choosing captains. It is believed that SC/ST players are worse at cricket as per the age. On average, their maximum speed on bowling is 3.45 km/h slower than the same of bowlers of General castes. But the researchers found OBC players are not different from General castes in any ability.