By February 3, 2024All The Talks, videos page

India- A history through Women, Sport, and Citizenship

About the talk

In India, women received the vote with Independence. Yet, a line runs through our citizenship: In the private sphere of the home, we are perfectly legitimate citizens. Indeed, in our roles as mothers and wives, we are revered. But in the world outside the home, our place as equal citizens is a lot less certain. We know this instinctively. I call it the Lakshmanrekha of citizenship.

My contention is that sport, with its inextricable connection with nationalism, offers women the legitimacy to cross this Lakshmanrekha. I examine this thesis through running, the most minimal sport, and I travel the decades from the 1940s to the current moment through the lives of 9 women athletes.

Sohini Chattopadhyay

She is a writer, editor and journalist with 15 years’ experience. Her work has been commissioned by The New York Times, Guardian, Lancet, Al Jazeera, The Times of India, South China Morning Post, Hindu, Mint and leading publications across the world. My writing has been translated into German, Tamil, Malayalam, Urdu and Bengali. She has won the National Award for film criticism, a prize handed out by the President of India, and several awards including the Ramnath Goenka prize and the Human Rights in Press Awards in Hong Kong.

She has worked in Delhi and Kolkata, and in 3-month fellowship stints at Singapore, Hamburg, London and Munich as part of cosmopolitan teams.

The book The Day I Became a Runner, published by HarperCollins, offers a women’s history of India through the lens of sport. It offers a unique perspective. The writer Ramachandra Guha has called the book “one of the finest works of non-fiction I have read in years”. It won the New India Fellowship, which offers Rs. 18 lakh, run by tech entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani, for this book.
Her investigative stories have been made into documentary films, such as the story I broke on birth abuse in government hospitals, the follow-up on the Kolkata flyover collapse, and the science and struggle behind the Indian drug molecule Risug. For these films, she has spoken on camera as an expert voice, as well as consulted off-camera for research.

At OPEN magazine, a national newsweekly, she edited the back-of-the-book section on books, arts and culture. This included commissioning, writing, editing, and planning for 10-15 pages weekly depending on the ads. She worked with an in-house team of three copy-editors and reporters, three designers and developed a network of contributing writers, photographers and illustrators across major cities in India.

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