Invest in an Olympics Program India
Yashwanth Dhakshana *
(San Diego Training Center) :: Pix - Yashwanth Dhakshana
India's rise as a science, economic, and military superpower is beginning to be known all over the globe. Whether it was through our mission to the Moon in 2008 where we became the first space power to find water molecules on the lunar surface, our launch of the Agni V (becoming one of only two nations outside the permanent members of the UN security council to possess the technology to build and successfully test fire an intercontinental ballistic missile), or our economy surpassing Japan's in 2011 (albeit in PPP terms).
Indeed, we Indians we have much to be proud of and much to boast of since our economy was liberalized a mere twenty three years ago. Yet, for all our nation's prowess, we failed to produce a single gold medalist at the London Olympics last year and have so far attained only 26 Olympic medals in total. While our neighbor to the East (China), who we previously dwarfed in every field imaginable, has left us in the dust with a mind boggling 500 medals (a large percentage of which are gold).
Without getting into too much detail, the main reason India performs so poorly is because we don't invest much into an Olympics program. While our country pumps countless rupees into space research, mega projects (like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Smart City Kochi), and providing subsidies for the poor, India invested less than a $100 million into the London Olympics; compare that to the $9 billion invested by China. This wide gap between our two countries isn't because China's economy is much bigger than our own (for now at least). Roughly thirteen years ago, China's economy – in PPP terms – was the same size as India's is today (the 3rd biggest on Earth) and yet China finished 11th in the medal count and even that was considered a poor showing to the Chinese.
Our country should follow the same path that China took and invest heavily in an Olympics program. If we did so, we would reap many rewards.
The most obvious of which would be respect. Whether we like to admit or not, India is not a respected country. When people think of India, images of poverty, corruption, and a poor third world nation struggling to take care of itself, pops into the minds of many foreigners. Anyone living abroad can attest to that. If India performs well in the Olympics, our country would get a much needed image make over and be viewed as the emerging superpower it is. This is not merely my opinion either.
Several Yahoo.com articles, posted after the London Olympics took place, raised the question as to why India does so poorly in the Olympics. Many foreigners said they believed it was because Indians were too poor, too malnourished, and too physically weak to do well at the Olympics. Why, many asked, would a bunch of starving beggars, living in famine like conditions, care about playing sports? Others thought India was too poor to fund an Olympics program (even though our country is one of the richest nations in the world).
Obviously, if we Indians do well in the Olympics, then people would think of Indians in a much better light.
Infrastructure would get a boost too. In the U.S., the Americans have three main training facilities, one in San Diego, Colorado Springs, and a final one in Lake Placid. I've been to the training facility within San Diego and I have to say it is simply superb. San Diego itself, a city I've called home in the past for a number of years, not only has amazing training facilities but world class universities, splendid shopping malls, and spotless metro stations. Just about anything that one would want in a mega city-San Diego posses. India should mimic what the U.S. has done and build Olympic Cities in various parts of our country. Our country is in desperate need of new cities anyway and an Olympic City would serve both purposes.
Literacy would go up and poverty and malnutrition would go down as well. Children interested in training for sporting events would be provided with nourishing food, clean drinking water, education, and a roof over their heads. When they finish training each day, they would go learn math, science, English and other subjects (essential skills that millions of Indian school children are unable to attain). This is a similar method that Chinese athletes do (some as young as five). Children who do win medals, trophies, and championships could then use their earnings to uplift themselves and their loved ones from horrid living conditions.
While we Indians like to boast of our demographic dividend (the one thing we believe will push us ahead of China and the U.S. in the coming decades), what we fail to realize is that we're simply wasting it by not making the proper investments. We need to realize, and realize fast, that our young are not going to stay young forever and unleash the power of our youth now and encourage them to follow their dreams and provide them with the proper facilities so that they can bring India the glory it deserves.
India's full of people who can dominate in every sport; whether it's track and field, gymnastics, shooting, boxing, or even swimming. You name it, we Indians can do it. Mary Kom won India a bronze medal at the London Olympics. But what if she had the proper facilities and well paid coaches to aid her? Who's to say she couldn't have gotten India gold? India's first track and field superstar was P.T. Usha. She never got India a medal at the Olympics but was heralded as the Queen of the Asian track and field for many years. If she had the proper facilities, she could have easily clenched India numerous Olympic gold medals.
India has over 1.2 billion people. Are we Indians so incapable of turning at least 100 of them or less than one millionth of a percent of our population into Olympic medal winners? I sincerely hope not.
* Yashwanth Dhakshana wrote this for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at dhakshanayashwanth(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on February 03 2013 .
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