Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on the Lessons of India's Commonwealth Games Fiasco

The Commonwealth Games concluding in New Delhi this week were supposed to do for India what the Beijing Olympics allegedly did for China: Prove to the world that it had truly arrived. But as Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia notes in her her latest Forbes column, the games accomplished the opposite: It showcased India’s dysfunctional side while masking its real strengths. That's because such extravaganzas require an efficient state—which India has never had and shouldn't want—and downplay the nation's entrepreurial ability—which India has in abundance and should nurture more to beat back poverty, its core challenge. As Dalmia writes:

These public extravaganzas, in striving to convey an impressive collective national image, detract from the issues that affect the ordinary lives of ordinary individuals that determine the true worth of a nation. Western countries too vie to host the Olympics and other similar mega-events. But they do so more in the original Greek spirit of celebrating individual excellence. Countries like India and China with a more nationalistic agenda, by contrast, use such exercises in the Roman fashion to trumpet their state’s capacity for grand public works...

If India wants to escape its image as a poor country, it has to stop being poor – just as if China wants to stop being viewed as a repressive country, it has to stop being repressive. Sporting extravaganzas – successful or not — won’t change that simple truth.

Read all about it here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Mo||

    That's what you get when you hire monkeys as security guards.

  • cynical||


  • ||

    But they do so more in the original Greek spirit of celebrating individual excellence.

    Sure they do.

  • Apologetic California||

    All but a couple of CG has been held outside the white English-speaking countries. CG will again roll the dice by even fucking around with the idea of hosting it in Sri Lanka in 2014.

  • ||

    Glasgow is not in Sri Lanka.

  • Jock MacKay the Caber Guy||


  • Jock MacKay the Caber Guy||



  • Juice||

    If you need the state's permission to do just about anything, especially economic, then that part had better be efficient. That's one major problem in India (from what I gather). The government there is byzantine, opaque, and corrupt, but you can't take a shit without permission, so getting anything done is next to impossible. This is why there is so much poverty. I would think the next step for India is to have a more efficient state, at least when it comes to permitting economic activity.

  • Roshan||

    The Commonwealth Games in India have been a success. However, Should India celebrate the CommonWealth Games success
    Click to check out


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.