Monday, August 22, 2016

Leaning on non-existent Legacy

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Pre-independence India (prior to 1947) did boast of a long legacy of kings, kingdoms and a fairly large history of civilization and accomplishments.  There is no question about the contribution of Indian civilization/s to the world’s accomplishments and advancements.  Indians have a great hangover of their family legacy, albeit much of it is hearsay.  Very rarely a family has any legacy that is properly documented.  It there was ever any real legacy, the nation and its current population has made every effort to decimate whatever that can be claimed.  Indians have a habit of referring to someone or something to profess family lineage and legacy.  Much of these claims have no back-up, but just by constantly repeating something people start to place importance to the fibs and even start believing in their own fibs.  By and large it is a normal Indian thing to speak of legacy, weather or not it is fact based.

India’s performance in the modern Olympics is really dismal.  As of 2016 there has been no individual gold medal winner in any category.  India does have a few individual silver ad bronze medals and that’s about it.  For a fact India never had a golf #1 (Vijay Singh is from Fiji), no one from India ever won a grand slam tournament (Sania Mirza only doubles), and we can go on and on about the non-accomplishments of Indian athletes in the global arena.  Outside of Indian cricket team’s recent accomplishments, the country never produces a winner (not including Chess) on a global stage.

As India accounts for more than 1/6 of the global population, we should expect a bit more of global competition, better yet a better performance from the athletes.  The last couple of decades only cricket team has been making noises, but cricket is a sport mainly limited to colonial legacy.  The Americas, much of Europe and Asia doesn’t even encourage cricket as a sport.  So, Indians can’t really claim sporadic dominance in Cricket as a global dominance in sports.  There is absolutely no question about the ability and commitment of the Indian cricket team, just that most of the world doesn’t compete in the sport.

Although Indians make a lot of noise about even a single medal at the Olympics, India has no legacy of the modern games.  If we leave behind the early success of Indian hockey team (much of the success was in the time of British India) there is little to show for India’s participation in Olympics.  India is no longer a competitive hockey nation, a legacy of a sport Indians can no longer refer to.

India is a nation that still speaks of the old Milka Singh (although a great athlete) who never won a medal at the Olympics.  A big movie was made as a tribute to him.  Such is our legacy system.  With TV and social media making sure of covering the most mundane things in Earth, the Indians participation gets a lot more ink than the pre mobile and internet age.  Mainly the social media makes a mess of covering the athletes prior to the games establishing a very high level of expectations, which has no basis and a complete backlash about the results which are inline with expectations.  Indians do celebrate every medal irrespective of the sport and type, and rightfully so.  Olympics are not a place of incompetence, ignorance or impunity.  It is competition between 100% best of the best in all games/sports.  Even winning a single medal at the Olympics is an accomplishment to cherish.  The athletes, their families and friends, their coaches, their training facilities, their sponsors and specially the people who cheer them on and the public at large; all of them deserve the appreciation  for the effort behind every competing athlete.

But, what is happening here?  Why don’t we have a single gold medal? Why do we keep being placed at the bottom of the medal tally?  Why don’t we become a nation that competes and wins?  We can keep asking questions every four years but we have no answers.

Let us not for a minute believe that India as a nation that doesn’t like to win.  If the nation wants to win, then do the athletes have the spirit and mind to compete at the highest level and win?  Are the athletes conditioned for a global audience and performance that is conditioned only to win?  The facilities, sponsors and conditions are available and easily accessible for every athlete that shows the promise to compete.  But, we keep asking the same question/s every time, but so far we have no gold medal winner to welcome home.

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