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Sports-crazy Calcutta will soon have the country’s first research hub for sports studies to ponder these questions and more. The centre could play a crucial hand in researching history of sports in India to begin with, before contributing to sporting policy.
Calcutta University (CU) is padding up with De Montford University, UK, to launch an annexe of the International Research Centre for Sport, Socialisation and Society (IRCSS). Calcutta will be the first international annexe of the De Montford centre — world leader in the arena — with the China and US chapters to follow.
Explaining the choice of Calcutta as the first affiliation address, IRCSS head Prof Mangan, author of several seminal works and editor of The International Journal of the History of Sport, says: “Calcutta is famous and greatly admired in England as a heartland location for Indian sport and an innovator in the modernisation of sport.”
More and more students are becoming interested in the inter-relation between sports, market and politics, points out CU’s pro vice-chancellor (academic) Suranjan Das. “The centre is an attempt to respond to that need. It is also in line with the university’s policy of forming international tie-ups and encouraging inter-disciplinary research.”
At a time when the departments of history in CU and Jadavpur University (JU) and the JU English department have included sports studies as a module in their new post-graduate syllabi, the centre will boost work in the area. As a kick-off, an international seminar on sports studies will be organised on September 18, for which top guns from De Montford University, including Prof Mangan, will come down. “We hope to finalise the administrative nitty-gritty and sign a memorandum of understanding with them after the seminar,” reveals Das.
For now, it has been decided that the centre will be under the aegis of CU’s history department and be funded by the UGC’s department of special assistance programme. “Mass cultural activities, like sports and recreation, are important aspects of our life and have emerged as significant areas of study abroad,” feels Bhaskar Chakraborty, department of history, CU.
Invitations to the seminar are being sent to sports administrative bodies like the BCCI and the IFA, says Boria Majumdar, the CU alumnus set to take over as the deputy director of IRCSSS, who is driving the project. “Abroad, scholars work closely with administrators. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), for example, has a wing to promote Olympic studies,” he points out.