"Nation at Play is a novel history of India's engagement with sport and a probing analysis of its cultural and political development under monarchy and the Raj, as well as in the decades after Independence. Interestingly, over time, some sports that originated in India have fallen out of favor, while others, such as cricket, a colonial import, have been adopted and made wholly India's own.
Sen follows the transformation of sport from an elite, kingly pastime to a national obsession tied to colonialism, nationalism, and free market liberalization. He pays special attention to two modern phenomena: the dominance of cricket in the Indian consciousness and the chronic failure of a billion-strong nation to compete successfully in international sporting competitions, such as the Olympics. Innovatively incorporating examples from popular media and other unconventional sources, Nation at Play not
only captures the political nature of sport in India but also reveals the patterns of patronage, clientage, and institutionalization that have bound this diverse nation together for centuries."