Days after nineteen-year-old Hima Das made history by winning a gold for India in an international track event, predictably, Google recorded a spike in searches for her. But guess what was on top of the list of searches around Das? Her caste.
When we typed Hima Das in the Google search bar, these are the suggestions that surfaced.
This was first noticed by several social media users who pointed out that a majority of Indians are yet again obsessed with caste.
However, there was a fair amount of criticism on social media for this obsession with caste as well. Several Twitter users pointed out that no matter what how many achievements Indians bag, regressive attitudes like these will always hold the country back from progress.
How people searching for ‘Hima Das Caste’ on Google is everything that’s wrong with our society. Fans were rejoicing and internet was going crazy with everybody showering praises. But guess what many people were searching for the most? Her life story? No! sadly It was her caste! pic.twitter.com/quXeCUF6RY
— Nandan Pratim Sharma Bordoloi 🇮🇳 (@NANDANPRATIM) July 15, 2018
India is a sad sad country. A young athlete #HimaDas wins India’s first gold medal at the World Junior Athletics Championships and what do her countrymen search for in Google. Her caste! Fucking Pathetic! #HimaDasGoldenGirl
— Lord Neus’ (@duxFortisIndia) July 16, 2018
The caste system is dead, right folks? #HimaDas #RedditIndiaDiscussion: https://t.co/KdODuUwXyt pic.twitter.com/HCmGgnjzBR
— Reddit India (@redditindia) July 15, 2018
Even a Gold medal ranks below a caste. We are defeating our heroes. #shame #HimaDas #HimaDasGoldenGirl #casteism pic.twitter.com/iMwrbo0h6U
— Shailesh Otari (@shaileshotari) July 17, 2018
This won’t be the first time that shortly after a sportsperson have achieved a commendable feat, the country jumped in to find which caste he or she is from.
Google showed a similar pattern in searches shortly after PV Sindhu won a silver in the Rio Olympics in 2016. People scrambled to search for her caste, though it was not the top search terms about her.
A Google trends report showed that the search engine started getting searches for her caste on 13 July when Das’ feat hit the headlines. It started to spike a day later, and till now, registered the highest number of searches on 16 July.
The most number of searches for Das’ caste was from Kerala and the least from Madhya Pradesh according to the Trends report.
The interest in her caste was way more than a lot of other aspects. For example, when we ran a comparison with search terms like ‘Hima Das achievements’ or ‘Hima Das athlete’ or ‘Hima Das medals’ which one would possibly type to learn specifically about her sporting history, the ratio of searches was pretty dismal.
Screenshot from Google trends report
Screenshot from Google Trends
However, searches for just ‘Hima Das’ way outnumbered searches specifically for ‘Hima Das caste’ according to the Trends report.