21 January, 2021

Hulla Baloo In Poona Gym

On the occasion of Ambedkar's birth anniversary, Boria Majumdar recounts the story of P. Baloo, a Chamaar cricketer who became BR's early inspiration

Hulla Baloo In Poona Gym
BR. Ambedkar and cricket! That's nonsense! This was what Soli Sorabjee said during my interview for the Rhodes scholarship. A nervous interviewee would get flustered by such a remark. But I was dying for it to come my way, for then I could guide the interview according to my prepared strategy. In the numerous mock interviews I had with my professors in Calcutta I had come across a similar response and I had the answer pat, a fact Soli would not have known! In a nation apathetic to accepting the broader social significance of sport, this reaction was all but natural. The truth is, one of Ambedkar's foremost heroes was Palwankar Baloo, a Chamaar cricketer from Dharwad. The true predecessor to Bishen Singh Bedi (a fact he may be completely ignorant about), Baloo—the nation's best bowler in the early years of the 20th century—justifiably deserved this adoration, a story I am eager to tell while commemorating Ambedkar's birth anniversary.

In his classic The Epic Fast (1932), Pyarelal writes: "Confined in the Poona Yervada jail, in September 1932, Gandhi had been forced to...


To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Boria Majumdar

Latest Magazine

January 25, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section