India and the Olympics
Routledge – 2009 – 508 pages
In most accounts of Olympic history across the world, India's Olympic journey is a mere footnote. This book is a corrective. Drawing on newly available and hitherto unused archival sources, it demonstrates that India was an important strategic outpost in the Olympic movement that started as a global phenomenon at the turn of the twentieth century. Among the questions the authors answer are: When and how did the Olympic ideology take root in India? Who were the early players and why did they appropriate Olympic sport to further their political ambitions? What explains India's eight consecutive gold medals in Olympic men’s hockey between 1928 and 1956 and what altered the situation drastically, so much so that the team failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games? India and the Olympics also explores why the Indian elite became obsessed with the Olympic ideal at the turn of the twentieth century and how this obsession relates to India's quest for a national and international identity. It conclusively validates the contention that the essence of Olympism does not reside in medals won, records broken or television rights sold as ends in themselves. Particularly for India, the Olympic movement, including the relevant records and statistics, is important because it provides a unique prism to understand the complex evolution of modern Indian society.
Praise for the Indian edition:
"This book is a triumph of Olympic proportions for both authors and the publisher and is worthy of a gold medal on its own."
The New Indian Express
"The Games to India have been about more than just sporting glory. Nationalism, factionalism, corruption –India’s Olympic efforts have had it all. Majumdar and Mehta’s narrative is as much about the Olympics’ place in India as it is about India’s place in the Olympics….The content alone earns the book its place on any sports fan’s bookshelf."
"An eloquent narration laced with rare anecdotes that makes it immensely readable…The wealth of previously unused archival sources is the strength of the book. Laudable for having picked up a subject hitherto untouched, the book proves that you have to study social histories of sport as a whole rather than as a history of cricket, football or Olympics."
"Replete with little known, lively and telling details presented in an enchanting manner…[It] by virtue of its depth, dimension and erudition opens up fresh debates and numerous areas of research—besides being a delightful read."
The Hindustan Times
"The spread is excellent, the information marvellous, the interpretation satisfying….This book will be well-cited and, more importantly, will spring a lot more studies to give us even more insight than we have now."
Biblio: A Review of Books
Prologue. 1. Games of Self-Respect: A Colony at the Olympics 2. ‘Everyone Wants a Bite of the Cherry’: The Struggle for Control of Olympic Sports in India 3. The Golden Years: ‘We Climb the Victory Stand’ 4. Hitler’s Games: Captain Dhyan Chand and Indian Nationalism in the Third Reich 5. The ‘National’ Game: Hockey in the Life of Independent India 6. ‘The Fall of Rome’: The Fall and Decline of Indian Hockey 7. ‘The Big Brother of Asia’: Nehruvian India, Sport Diplomacy and a New Order 8. Appu on Television: The 1982 Asiad and the Creation of a New Indian Public 9. When Olympic Sports Lost Out: Cricket, Television and Globalization in India 10. The Army, Indian-ness and Sport: The Nation in the Olympic Ideal 11. Torchbearers of a Billion: India at the Games. Epilogue.
Boria Majumdar is Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He has taught aspects of the Olympic movement at the University of Chicago and the University of Toronto. Executive Academic Editor of Soccer and Society and Sport in Society, he also serves as joint General Editor of the series Sport in the Global Society. His most recent books include The Illustrated History of Indian Cricket and Goalless: The Story of a Unique Footballing Nation.
Nalin Mehta is an Honorary Research Fellow at La Trobe University, Melbourne and a Member of the International Board of Scholars, International Football Institute, University of Central Lancashire. A DFID-Commonwealth scholar, he has been a Fellow of the International Olympic Museum, Laussane, and Visiting Fellow at Australian National University, Canberra. A broadcast journalist for over ten years, he has worked with several India TV networks, most recently as Deputy News Editor at Times Now. Author of India on Television: How Satellite News Channels have Changed the Way We Think and Act, he currently works for UNAIDS.