For a nation aspiring to be a $5 trillion economy, India should have done much better at Tokyo Olympics

India’s rank at Tokyo Olympics matches its position on list of world’s poorest countries. The medal tally acts as a prism, reflecting our development and economic progress as a nation

For a nation aspiring to be a $5 trillion economy, India should have done much better at Tokyo Olympics

K Raveendran

The Tokyo Olympics seem to be the overbearing flavour of this year’s Independence Day celebrations. Politicians, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are tweeting away to glory about the great achievements of Indian medalists, while the media is going gaga over the Indian feat. Even losses are being described as heroic. Roads are being renamed after the athletes to honour their performance at Tokyo and the pundits are predicting unprecedented boost for sports items in which the medals have been won. What if they lost the medals, they have won the hearts of 136 crore Indians, headlines scream.

An Olympics medal is no doubt not a small achievement and its significance can in no way be demeaned. But that must not be allowed to overshadow the poor show by India in general. If Indians feel so high about a few Olympics medals, one wonders what would be the state of mind of a Chinese, whose Olympics team has won 38 gold medals, 32 silver and 18 bronzes or the average American, whose compatriots have topped the medal tally claiming 39 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze medals.

India, in contrast, has won one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.

A cringing pain flashes across the heart when one sees that even countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Belarus, Ukraine etc. have done so well at Tokyo Olympics. For a country supposedly aspiring to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025, this is humiliating.

It may seem that whosoever feels this way suffers from a mindset that lacks sportsman spirit. But the poor show at the Olympics is not just about winning or losing; it is not even about sports. The most important part is that the medals tally is a very realistic representation of the development and progress achieved by the respective countries.

In fact, India’s position on the medal list of the Tokyo Olympics matches with its position on the list of the world’s poorest countries. The medal tally acts as a prism, which serves as an alternative index of development and economic progress as a nation.

This is not about sports. It is a most serious issue that should dominate the national narrative as we prepare to celebrate the 75th Independence Day, which is barely a week away. This is the issue on which Prime Minister Modi has to provide an explanation to the people in his Independence Day speech. But it is most likely that his national address would be full of platitudes and self-congratulatory notes.

Incidentally, he has sought people’s inputs on what he should say in the ritualistic national address. The Independence Day national address serves as the government’s message to the people on the performance of the nation; it is not to parrot what a few publicity-crazy people would like the PM to say.

As we celebrate the 75th Independence Day, it is time for introspection as to whether the Indian nation has delivered or failed. We have to realistically see whether the development model that we have followed produced the results that the nation-builders had envisaged. It is time to critically examine whether we have succeeded as a nation and determine what has gone wrong with whatever we have been doing so far.

Aspiring to be a 5 trillion dollar economy is one thing, but what is of utmost importance is whether we have succeeded in fulfilling the aspirations of the people when they set out to found a republic that strived to promote the welfare of people by securing and protecting a social order, in which social, economic and political justice shall form in all institutions of national life.

One major problem with us, as typified by our response to the bronze and silver medals at Olympics, besides the one consolation gold medal, is that we settle for the second best, and not the best. This has characterised everything about our nationhood, our social, political and economic responses, including our selection of the available options.

If we have to succeed as a nation, we must only settle for the best and only the best deserve to be cheered. This must be the true spirit of the 75th Independence Day celebrations.

(IPA Service)

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