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#FutureProof: This isn't just Kabaddi, it's an assertion!

01-September-2014
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#FutureProof: This isn't just Kabaddi, it's an assertion!

A few weeks back, Star TV mailed me an invite to watch their Pro Kabaddi League.

I have never watched or played the sport - so I saw no reason to start! But just a few weeks ever since, #prokabaddi is proving hard to resist.

So, on Friday evening in Mumbai I sat down with my parents-in-law to enjoy the semis. Nearly everyone I had met on Ganesh Chaturthi and the evening before had evinced similar interest.

Smart packaging, serious star power, and athleticism and fitness on display made me wanting for more on Saturday.

Are there a few million nouveau kabaddi junkies like me? Not many are too familiar with the rules. We only have a sense of the rough and tumble - and it connects as if to the Indian inside us.

Our viewership owes it to Star's Uday Shankar. Like he did with Satyamev Jayate, Uday shows how a foreign organisation can have that remarkable ear to India's dharti.

Tribute is also due to the league, Pro Kabaddi's, four co-founders: Anand B Mahindra, Charu Sharma, Piyush Pandey, and Rajiv Luthra. They represent big business' social contract and a life time of sport commentating, social
advertising, and the law respectively.

The sports that these gentlemen have founded stirs an assertion, not just of contact sports or big money, but of a more confident country, ready to own up a sport which even five or ten years back, the Doon, Mayo, Stephen's
crowd wouldn't touch with a barge pole.

2014 promises to be a special year in the life of India - first, a tea vendor has gone on to occupy a preserve of aristocrats. Then an army chief whose father was a foot soldier. Third, nation-wide protests against excessive angrezi on UPSC exams. Then a president of St Stephen's Union, who campaigned only in Hindi, his dad a mere gardener who grew the grass 'entitled kids' chewed as they sprawled in Allnutt Courts.

And now, kabaddi - it's even got itself a laudatory write up in The Wall Street Journal!

I am sure football, now promised a long-overdue tending at the grassroots by ISL, is next.

The charm and symbolism of the beautiful game is intrinsic to our journey as a world power.

What a site it will be if in a year or two near sunset time, village after village we drive past doesn't have idlers at liquor vendors, but youth busy with football and kabaddi, some of it is LlVE on 4G!

God bless those who're enabling this India of my dreams!

The columnist works at the intersect of media, regulation and strategy on RIL. The views are personal. Twitter: @therohitbansal. Join this conversation on #FutureProof.

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