But he has dual nationality (French - Indian) and opted to play for France. Too bad, if he had chosen to play for India he may have been the role model encouraging the Indians to embrace soccer.
Problem is the ethnically diverse population there. Basically football is very popular in all Muslim-orientated parts of the country, which basically means the city of Calcutta and surrounding areas. There football is very very popular and games attract lot of fans. In the rest of the country however, everybody has cricket as nr 1 sport. This means that from that huge number of people with Indian citizenship, only a small amount is interested in playing football.
China has a similar problem, they have so many citizens that it is impossible to not form a top class team there. But how are you going to do that when most Chinese people are simply not interested because other sports are a lot more popular?
In Asia it is basically Saudi, Iran, Australia and Japan. Maybe the Uzbek league now as well, although I wonder if this is not a short term hype. If Asian football gets stronger so that the AFC Champions League gets attractive to play in like the European one, then more players would be keen on playing in Asia. Even if the Saudi league becomes really really good, then still you got just the league and the players have little exposure abroad because the Asian champions league gets not much attention. If Arab football wants to further evolve, Asian football in general needs to evolve. I mean, English or Spanish football would also be nowhere as popular if it wasnt for the European tournaments as very attractive bonus added to the domestic league.
A solution would be maybe to upgrade the intercontinental tournaments, for example a world club for clubs but a serious one and not the crappy tournament it is now. In that case clubs from Saudi, Australia, Japan, USA, etc would have their own strong domestic league but also attractive games against Juventus, Milan, Manchester United, River Plate, Boca Juniors, ...