Sport in South Asia has a long and varied history that is often dramatic, sometimes violent, and which always promises to reveal much about the broader currents that have shaped culture and society. Some 100 years ago, an Indian became the star of England's cricket team, an 'Untouchable' was offered a contract in the English domestic cricket league, and an Indian win in a football match against an English Regiment was celebrated by a crowd of 60,000 as a nationalist victory. Almost a century on, the dead body of an Indian wrestler was paraded at the front of a Hindu crowd in order to incite the attacks on the Muslim neighbourhood that sparked the Aligarh riots in which almost a hundred people were killed, and in 1998, 141,000 fans attended the derby match between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in Calcutta, one of the largest ever crowds at a football game anywhere in the world. These stories contain elements of colonialism and show the rise of nationalism and the emergence of communalism; other examples show how the establishment of nationhood in a post-colonial world, the challenge of the regions to the political centre and the impacts of globalization and economic liberalization have all left their mark on the development of sport in South Asia. Quite simply, South Asian history and society have transformed sports in the region while at the same time such games and activities have often shaped the development of South Asia. This unique volume is both an introduction to the sporting histories of the region and an exploration of the relationships between sport, history and society in South Asia.
Politics and Sport in South Asia