India an important strategic outpost in the Olympic family

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) After the overdose of Cricket, the Indian sports fans are looking forward to the planet's greatest sporting event - the Olympics - scheduled to be held in Beijing from August 8 to 14.

But not every sports buff knows the history of the Olympic Movement. The question is often asked that when and how did the Olympic movement take root in India? Another query is who were the early players and why did they appropriate Olympic sport to further their political ambitions? But most of them are curious as what explains India's eight consecutive gold medals in men's hockey between 1928 and 1956 and what altered the situation so drastically that the team failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games? Olympics: The India Story, a book written by sports historian Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta, provides the answer to all these questions and queries.

In most accounts of Olympic history across the world, India's Olympic journey is a mere footnote and Boria asserts that his book is a corrective.

India's entry into the Olympic games, during the early 1920s, were as much an assertion of nationalistic pride as anything else.

Drawing on previously unused archival sources, it demonstrates that India was an important strategic outpost in the Olympic family, which started as a global phenomenon at the turn of the 20th century.

The nascent movement's strategic alliance with the YMCA in Latin America and China, and subsequently in India, proves this point.

At another level, Olympics: The India Story explores why the Indian elite became obsessed with the Olympic ideal at the turn of the 20th century and how this relates to India's quest for a meaningful role on the international stage.

It also conclusively validates the contention that the essence of Olympism does not reside only in medals won, records broken, or television rights sold.

Particularly for India, the Olympic movement is important because it provides a unique prism to understand the complex evolution of regional and national identities.

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