Indian Olympics and Beyond
Ramesh’s Uncle Gopal used to tell him, “We Indians eventually win.” And he would go into chronologically detailed accounts of how every single foreign dynasty to rule India was overthrown; how, though it took two hundred years, even the mighty British could not have their way here.
Everybody’s talking about the Beijing Olympics. Some are busy shouting out about how this is India’s best ever performance in these games: “Three medals, you know? And a gold!!” Others, who are new to the Indian approach to the Olympics, seem stunned and disillusioned, and actually take note of India’s rank on the medals tally.
The year I was born India brought home the Cricket World Cup: so, technically, I’m supposed to have started on a good note about these things. Since then, nothing much has happened (not to suggest that I have had something to do with it). There have been some isolated good performers: Prakash Padukone (Deepika’s father) and his “All England” feat; somebody called Milkha Singh, who probably did something sometime (he never got an Olympic Gold, though); Leander Paes’ uncanny victory over Pete Sampras; Rahul Dravid’s erstwhile awe-inspiring defiance on the batting crease; and the phenomenon we know as Sachin Tendulkar.
I often wonder how these isolated performers must feel, given their aloneness. India, as a nation, is really not used to do doing too well. The recent Booker Prizes and Miss Universe titles actually come as very pleasant surprise. We hardly come across as a nation that takes itself seriously: post-colonial hangover still fogs our consciousness. Indians do well; India rarely does.
So, come 2011 and Delhi shall find itself hosting the Commonwealth Games. Embarrassment is virtually assured. Delhi, however, is benefiting tremendously, in terms of public transport, particularly: the metros and the new buses are quite a spectacle.
Jung would probably say that India lacks the victory archetype: She’s not used to success, and She’s very comfortable with the lack of it.
Would I then live to see an age when things are different? Yeah. Uncle Gopal knows these things.