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.