There is a wave of enthusiasm sweeping across the countryside. Across mud pits in villages, the traditional sporting arenas, there is a new hoard of the faithful. The pit, in all its earthy glory, is the home to two great rural obsessions: wrestling and kabaddi. Both have seen a resurgence in the recent past, but it is kabaddi that has managed to make that rare transformation—it has shaken off the dirt for a dose of glamour and walked straight into your television screens as a mass spectator sport.

The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), one of the few brilliant commercial ideas in the world of Indian sport, is a game changer. It has been successful in transforming an essentially rural, open-air contact sport into a fast-paced game played indoors under floodlights. The pit has made way for the mat, a decision that resulted in kabbadi having the perfect mix of athleticism and wrestling. Our cover story this month (“The mat that matters”) takes a look at this kabaddi revival. Arpit Parashar writes that the PKL has inspired a generation of young players and for the first time given hope to many to make a living as professional kabaddi player instead of one dependent on government jobs.

The smart city project, an ambitious plan to transform the urbanscape is a signature scheme of the NDA government. A hundred cities will be chosen out of which 20 have be selected for financing in the current financial year. It is an audacious attempt to improve our cities, which calls upon the Centre, state, and local governments to work together in way that hasn’t been done before. The first round of city proposals saw an unprecedented participation of citizens: the projects selected were the outcomes of public preference found through online polls, and door-to-door campaigns among others. Across cities people wanted a retrofit of the cramped business districts, better public transport, and IT services, writes Rohit Handa  in “The cities of tomorrow”.

Do not miss the interview with Fraser Taylor (“The maps of forever”), the world’s foremost expert on cybercartography. He reimagines the atlas as a multi-sensory experience as well as a repository of language and customs of communities.

Saurav Kumar

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