What To Take Away From The Commonwealth Games

I don’t care that much about the India’s troubles with the Commonwealth Games. Well, let me clarify — I do care that the exercise has been riddled with corruption and inefficiency, but I don’t care as to what it may or may not mean for India’s “honor” or reputation. If it were up to me, the games would have been held elsewhere, not least because India has more pressing concerns than whether or not it can organize an athletic stadium or not.

I make this point because one hears a similar argument — the National Honor Argument, I call it — when India’s cricket team ends up in some controversy or the other. (See “The Sydney Test” as prime e.g.) Obviously, it’s easy — and perhaps right — to take pride when your national team bests others, but it’s not clear whether the results says anything about your nation’s character or history or future.

The Economist put this more succinctly in its cover story this week. E.g.:

No doubt a strong central government would have given India a less chaotic Commonwealth games, but there is more to life than badminton and rhythmic gymnastics. India’s state may be weak, but its private companies are strong. Indian capitalism is driven by millions of entrepreneurs all furiously doing their own thing. Since the early 1990s, when India dismantled the “licence raj” and opened up to foreign trade, Indian business has boomed.

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