The Commonwealth Vs Asian Games
September 21, 2010

With the 19th commonwealth games in New Delhi this October and the 16th Asian games in Guangzhou, just a month apart from each other comparisons between the two neighbours are bound to be made.

Leaving Beijing’s spectacular Olympic games aside, India’s coming out party to prove to the world the economic giant it is emerging into, is in shambles. Barely a few weeks away, construction hasn’t been fully completed,  the venues are not state-of-the-art, security hasn’t been installed and the city is in a mess. Travel east about 3,500 kilometers and you’ll find the site of the Asian Games in Guangzhou in southern China, which will kick off on Nov. 12. The website displays photos of the 70 or so Games venues, many of which were possibly erected or at least started when Beijing began preparations to host the 2008 Olympics, now show them ready for athletes. In late July, the organizers took journalists around to show off the finished venues, according to the website. In the Chinese case, “finished” means ready for action, not ready for further finishing touches, such as clearing debris, painting and so forth, as in the case of Delhi’s 18 venues.

Displaying its prowess for putting on a world class show, Guangzhou which lies in close proximity to Hong Kong, is now concentrating on the smaller things – training its staff, organising daily menus, sprucing up the city, merchandising etc. Meanwhile, Delhi still has to confirm its caterers, clean up the city and prepare its citizens for the onslaught of traffic, tourists and terrorism.

However, this article was not written to berate India on its lousy organisation nor was it written to praise China. The idea is to look beyond what is so different in these two countries, that allows one neighbor to shine internationally, and the other to cower its head in shame. Corruption like many of us feel is not the game spoiler. China and India are neck and neck on corruption measures—Transparency International ranks China at No. 79 and India at No. 84, with a Corruption Perception Index score of 3.6 and 3.4 respectively. Chinese politicians and bureaucrats are up to the same mischief as Indian politicians, and evidently to the same shameful extent.

So what is so different about these two countries, that share a common history, culture and values? The answer lies in India’s “Chalta hai, Hota hai” attitude which commonly and very selfishly translates into ‘if it doesn’t affect me, I am not going to do anything to help it’. It’s this very lacadasic attitude that keeps India behind. While the Chinese aim higher, dream bigger and collectively work to take their economy to the top, Indians work in a very individualistic manner, only concerned about their personal gain. It’s this very attitude that leads Indians to think at a micro level, only worried about their home, their family, their jobs and their possessions rather than the more Confucian macro thinking adopted by the Chinese, where each works to his fullest capacity for the common good. 

In this lies the fundamental difference between India and China. While economy, GDP and FDI figures might show the two neighbors head to head, at the forefront of growth and development, it is China’s attitude tooted in confucion philosoly that might just keep it in the lead.

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