By Alok Deshwal
Deputy Director (M&C), Press Information Bureau, New Delhi
CALCUTTA, Oct 1, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and previously known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states. All but two of these countries were formerly part of the British Empire.
India And Commonwealth
India joined the Commonwealth after Independence. Gradually more countries in Asia and Africa joined the Commonwealth. Today, out of 54 member countries, 33 are Republics, 5 countries have their own monarchies and 16 countries are a constitutional monarchy.
The object of the Commonwealth of Nations today is to advance democracy, human rights sustainable economic growth and social development within its member states and other countries. To reinstate its aims and objectives, every second Monday in the month of March is celebrated as the Commonwealth Day by the member countries.
The member states co-operate within a framework of common values and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration. These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace. The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status.
The Commonwealth is a forum for a number of non-governmental organisations, collectively known as the Commonwealth Family, which are fostered through the intergovernmental Commonwealth Foundation. The Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth's most visible activity, are a product of one of these organisations. These organisations strengthen the shared culture of the Commonwealth, which extends through common sports literary heritage, and political and legal practices. Due to this, Commonwealth countries are not considered to be foreign to one another.
Commonwealth Games: A Retrospect
The Commonwealth Games, a multinational and a multi-sport event organized every four years, involves thousands of athletes. The Commonwealth has earmarked sports as one of its major activities. India made its debut in the II British Empire Games in 1934. Wrestling, Polo, Chaupar, Chess and Kho-Kho were popular and enjoyed royal patronage. The same traditions were carried further after India’s Independence. The host city is selected from amongst the Commonwealth Nations. Delhi, the capital city of India being the host for this year.
In 1930, the first games under the title The British Empire Games were held in Hamilton (Canada) and continued under the same title till 1950. The event was then renamed as the British and Commonwealth Games in 1954. The title of the games was again changed to the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and, finally in 1978, it was rechristened as the Commonwealth Games.
Since the beginning of the Games till date, the development of sports in the Commonwealth countries displayed an upward graph. This is evident as the inaugural games in 1930 witnessed eleven countries, which kept on increasing and reached 72 countries in 2002.
The first live telecast of the Games across the world happened as early as in 1938 during the V British Empire and Commonwealth Games. The growth and development is also supported by the fact that the number of sports events kept on increasing gradually. XVII Commonwealth Games held at Manchester, London, displayed the sensitivity of the sports fraternity, as the sports events for the athletes with disability were included in the Games. These Games also came in limelight during the XVIII Commonwealth Games when the Baton visited every single Commonwealth nation participating in the Games.
Sports In India
The history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in ancient India was fed by a powerful fuel--religious rites.
There were some well-defined values like the mantra in the Atharva-Veda, saying, Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left. In terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional Olympic oath: For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport.
Badminton probably originated in India as a grownup's version of a very old children's game known in England as battledore and shuttlecock, the battledore being a paddle and the shuttlecock a small feathered cork, now usually balled a "bird."
In the area of recreation and sports India had evolved a number of games. One would be surprised to know today that games like, Chess, Snakes and Ladders, Playing Cards, Polo, the martial arts of Judo and Karate had originated as a sport in India and it was from here that these games were carried to foreign countries, where they were further modernized.
It is more than likely that many of today's Olympic disciplines are sophisticated versions of the games of strength and speed that flourished in ancient India and Greece. Chess, wrestling, polo, archery and hockey, possibly a fall-out from polo, are some of the games believed to have originated in India.
Hockey, in which India has an impressive record with eight Olympic gold medals, is officially the national sport. Other popular games are football, cricket, basketball, volleyball and badminton. Cricket has become a very popular game in India. After the IX Asian Games in New Delhi in 1982, the capital city now has modern sports facilities. Such facilities are also being developed in other parts of the country. Besides sports and games included in the international sporting agenda, there are many, which have developed indigenously. Among these are wrestling and several traditional systems of martial arts.
The Host City: Delightful Delhi
Delhi, is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest metropolis by population in India. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with more than 12.25 million inhabitants in the territory and with nearly 22.2 million residents in the National Capital Region urban area.
Located on the banks of the River Yamuna, Delhi has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BC. After the rise of the Delhi Sultanate, Delhi emerged as a major political, cultural and commercial city along the trade routes between northwest India and the Gangetic plain. It is the site of many ancient and medieval monuments, archaeological sites and remains. In 1639, Mughal emperor Shahjahan built a new walled city in Delhi which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1649 to 1857.
After the British East India Company had gained control of much of India during the 18th and 19th centuries, Calcutta became the capital both under Company rule and under the British Raj, until George V announced in 1911 that it was to move back to Delhi. A new capital city, New Delhi, was built to the south of the old city during the 1920s. When India gained Independence in 1947, New Delhi was declared its capital and seat of government. As such, New Delhi houses important offices of the federal government, including the Parliament of India, as well as numerous national museums, monuments, and art galleries.
Owing to the migration of people from across the country, Delhi has grown to be a multicultural, Cosmopolitan, Metropolis. (PIB Features)