Olympic Proof: India is Not China

Shashi Tharoor in the Huffington Post comments on the rise of China and India and how the two have been “twinned” under the name “Chindia” over the past several years.  Tharoor uses the 2008 Olympic medal results to illustrate the contrasts between the two rising powers.

What’s happened at the Olympics speaks to a basic difference in the two countries’ systems. It’s the creative chaos of all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood versus the perfectly-choreographed precision of the Beijing Opening Ceremony. The Chinese, as befits a Communist autocracy, approached the task of dominating the Olympics with top-down military discipline. The objective was determined, a program (“Project 119”) drawn up, the considerable resources of the state attached to it, state-of-the-art technology acquired and world-class foreign coaches imported. India, by contrast, approached these Olympics as it had every other, with its usual combination of amiable amateurism, bureaucratic ineptitude, half-hearted experiment and shambolic organization.

That’s simply the way we are. If China wants to build a new six-lane expressway, it can bulldoze its way past any number of villages in its path; in India, if you want to widen a two-lane road, you could be tied up in court for a dozen years over compensation entitlements. In China, national priorities are established by the Government and then funded by the state; in India, priorities emerge from seemingly endless discussions and arguments amongst myriad interests, and funds have to be found where they might. China’s budget for preparing its sportspersons for these Games alone probably exceeded India’s expenditure on all Olympic training in the last sixty years.

See also a past presentation by  Tharoor’s on Indian multiculturalism:

See also past CDT posts on Chindia.

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