By Ravish Kumar:
The other day I wondered if there, at all, exists an unnoticed similarity between the present state of governance and the recently concluded London Olympics. Historically, the Olympics, like the Indian Governance, have come a long way. They have survived numerous ups and downs during their lives. While the World Wars led to their cancellations in 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Olympics received widespread boycotts during the Cold Wars. The Olympics, like a government does, have evolved living with numerous challenges — Terror, Bribery and Boycotts. BBC’s Panorama: Buying the Games (a film on influential Olympic Insiders) uncovered the ugly evidences revealing that votes of an IOC Member are offered for sale — keep cash ready. Nevertheless, they have evolved to be more occupying and encompassing – Paralympics for the disabled, Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes – barring all barriers of religion, race and geography hosting thousands of athletes and the dreams they bring along.
Historically, the Olympics were religious with rituals to the mythical king-Gods Zeus and Pelops being performed alongside the performing athletes. On a very similar note, the modern day governance comes with a tinge of regionalism, religion-alism. The governments, or for that matter governance, change after every 5 years, more out of defeats than a constitutional ritual. Olympics declined with their popularity as the Romans came to power and reach in the Greece. In the Olympic-like events leading to win/ defeat of a party over/ by another, the governance comes with a tinge of Terror, Bribery, and Boycotts. Governance has historically proclaimed to be all encompassing and occupying. In theory, and hence, sadly.
The change of the geographical locations of Olympics is very similar to the transfer of responsibilities of leading the nation, back home. It comes with widespread scepticism, debate and public discontent. While the Rio Mayor Edriado Paes believes that “the arrival of the Olympic Flag marks a period of transformation in the city”, the ceremonial arrival of the flag was marked by widespread scepticism about Rio’s current incapacities to host the games. Historically, with numerous instances, the Olympics mark startling congruency with any incapacity of a government. Over a period of 5 years, 4 for Olympics, the challenges that the nation faces, the inefficient resource mobilisation, instances of chaos, infrastructural incapacities and the like, turn starker and easily noticeable.
As the history has it, post Greece 1896, the Olympics side-performed. During this stagnation phase; although the Paris Exposition in 1990 didn’t have a stadium, it marked the participation of women for the first time. Participation of women post a period of ‘stagnation’ — and the article talks about similarity between Olympics and Indian Governance. Need I say more? You see, how well we know a nation depends on the Olympics that we follow; is it the one that’s played globally or the one that’s being played domestically?
On the performance front, the government tends to share stark similarity with the Indian Hockey Team at the Olympics 2012. The 8-times gold winner slumped like never before, leaving so much to be desired. Five pool matches lost in a row sound so political! Much like typical five years of loss after a brainwashed nation has desired reforms from a dysfunctional government. Not to mention the corporatisation of both — The Olympics and The Government. Over the years, the Olympics have tended to be overly inclined to rampant corporatisation and a mega-marketing platform. The government, on the other hand, is ever more glamorously lucrative.
If a nation hosts the Olympics bringing, on a common platform, more than 10,000 athletes, a nation like India is very similar to that nation, for it hosts the parasitic governance and falls prey to the exorbitant black expenditures that remain unreported for the next 5 years. The change of governance, reiterated, is more like an Olympian defeat than a Constitutional Ritual-Requirement marked by Ceremonial Oath Takings. Each nation, be it the host to the forthcoming Olympics or the host to any parasitic governance, has a faint sub-conscious understanding of the challenges ready to dangerously unfold for the next 4 or 5 years, as the case may be.
I believe the article couldn’t have been better timed. As India witnesses preparations for the 2014 elections, it shares mysterious congruencies with Rio. If superimposed with Rio, the differences dissolve and disappear. Both shall face challenging ‘hosting’ times, both waiting for tougher times ahead – Rio’s 2016 Olympics shall be the first ones hosted by a South American country. Rio, the third largest metropolitan area in South America has one-fifth of its population living in slums. Much like India, Rio struggles with a mismanaged police and an inclusive human development.
Each nation shall struggle with similar Olympics in the future. Each waits for immediate destinies to unfold.
[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Ravish Kumar will post-graduate from IIM Ahmadabad in 2013. He has (co) authored 3 technical books.[/box]