When will an Indian footballer play for England?
There's one aspect of globalisation where Indians are losing out - Premier League football.
I'm a Londoner in exile. Not in exile from London, but in exile in London - from the north of England where I grew up. That unheeded part of post-industrial England that tourists leap across as they make their way from London and Oxford to the Lake District and Scotland.
The North doesn't have a lot to shout about - so let me trumpet what little it can rejoice in. Football! The much delayed Premier League season has just ended. Northern teams have taken the top three slots. There's only one London side in the top five!
The Premier League is of course a global success story. It's the most watched sports league in the world. Its players come from across the world - in the past season from sixty-five different nations. That includes Iceland, Mali, Paraguay, Armenia, Liberia, Curacao - but not India or any other South Asian nation. In almost thirty years of the Premier League, Zesh Rehman is the only footballer for a South Asian national team (he's Birmingham-born but played for Pakistan) who's taken to the pitch. He played for Fulham for a couple of seasons.
In the women's game, Bala Devi from Manipur stands out as an exception to the rule - a South Asian woman who has made it to the top levels of professional football. She signed in January for the leading Scottish team Rangers, though she made just a couple of appearances before the big Lockdown.
You might argue that the absence of South Asian footballers reflects the woeful rankings of their national teams. But that doesn't explain why people of Asian origin long settled in the UK are so rare in the top ranks of the game.
There are a handful of British Asians - or players of part Asian heritage - who are making their mark. Figures such as Leicester City's Hamza Chowdhury whose mother is from Bangladesh and father is from the Caribbean. Neil Taylor, a left-back for Aston Villa, has a mum from Kolkata which would make him eligible for the India team - though he plays internationally for Wales, where he was born.
Among all UK-based professional footballers, about 1 in 400 is of South Asian heritage - even though British Asians make up about 1 in 15 of the population. That is both surprising and shaming.
Once it was said that young British Asians played cricket and hockey rather than football. That's not true any longer. A recent news report suggested that stereotypical attitudes towards young Asian footballers, combined with racist attitudes on and off the pitch, is impeding the development and recruitment of South Asian talent. Half-a-century after black British footballers started breaking through those barriers, Asian players are still having a tough time.
My own team, Huddersfield Town - they play in the second level of English football - is based in an area with a large South Asian population, most with roots in Pakistan. There are no South Asians in its current team. A couple of years ago, one of their players was called Rajiv - when I checked, it turned out his family were from Surinam.
Huddersfield has a few South Asian fans - but people of Asian origin are hugely under-represented in the terraces as well as on the pitch. The club, to its credit, takes the issue seriously. Although no longer in the Premier League, it's still signed up to the League's scheme for promoting equality and diversity. A prominent member of the local Asian community has the role of 'fan ambassador' to help build relationships and ensure better communications.
And on the pitch? Well, the only Asian origin player the club can point to is Adnan Ahmed, who progressed through Huddersfield's training academy to the first team. He last played for Town thirteen years ago. While born in England, he became a regular in Pakistan's national team and was capped 27 times.
When I was growing up in the North, cricket was largely segregated. Asian players had their own teams and sometimes their own local leagues. That barrier has now been largely demolished - aided of course not only by the exceptional quality of so many Asian-origin players, but also by the determination of the sport's administrators to ensure equal opportunity.
It's more than twenty years since Chennai-born Nasser Hussain first captained an England test team; the current England test squad includes Moeen Ali, Saqib Mahmood and Adil Rashid.
How long before football catches up?