2 Stories on India's 2 Faces: Capable, Competitive Private Sector and Legendary Govt. Bureaucracy
1. From the Washington Post article "On eve of Commonwealth Games, India's persistent red tape is in spotlight":
"It didn't take long for the first athletes arriving in New Delhi last week for the upcoming Commonwealth Games to catch a glimpse of modern India's two faces. Their gateway to the country was the capital's gleaming new international airport terminal, built by a privately led consortium and opened in June four months ahead of schedule.
But the official wristbands that the visitors were handed at the airport turned out to be an emblem of India's famous red tape and government inefficiency. When the teams reached the athletes' village, the police guarding the facility refused to recognize the IDs, saying that the Games Organizing Committee had not sent the required authorization order. The jet-lagged athletes stood about under a tree for hours with their luggage, calling their embassies for help, and the problem was not finally resolved for four more days.
To observers, the incident illustrated more than just the well-documented sloppiness that has marked India's preparations for the Games. It also underscored the gap that has emerged between a government rooted in a slower-moving, socialist era and a private entrepreneurial class that is busy building global IT companies, the world's largest oil refineries and spectacular structures such as the $2.8 billion airport terminal."
"It is about two aspects of the India story," said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an entrepreneur and member of Parliament. "India's private sector has been exposed to competition and therefore has developed capability. Accountability is firmly built into the entrepreneurial mind-set. But the government structure is a relic of the colonial past and continues to plod along."
2. From the WSJ article "My Commonwealth Games: Then and now":
I stood recently beside the swimming pool where the 19th Commonwealth Games will begin in October, wondering if the 20 members of the Indian team sprinting up and down the sparkling 50-meter pool stood a better chance at winning a medal than I did when I represented this country in the Commonwealth and Asian games 28 years ago.
"At the edge of the pool this September day, I see some of the same cast of characters from my swimming days in 1982, the first clue that not much has changed. Running alongside the swimmers, a stop watch in hand, is Satish Suri, who was one of our coaches then—and remains a national coach today.Viren Nanavati, the joint secretary of the Indian Swimming Federation, remains in exactly the same position he held 28 years ago."
Q: Given its enormous population, why hasn't India been able to produce any world-class swimming champions?
"India's legendary sports bureaucracy continues to get in the way, swimmers and others say. Aaron D'souza, one of India's top swimmers in the 100 meters and 200 meters freestyle, said it took him four months to get the required approvals from government sports officials to train in the U.S. this year. He says he waited from January to April for government sports officials to approve his U.S. training, missing critical months.
Mr. D'souza and Pradeep Kumar, the national team coach, say the freestyle champion wasted months in a government swim camp in Pune, where it was too cold in December and January for swimmers to practice comfortably. As a result, says Mr. Kumar, Mr. D'Souza swam his best event, the 200 meters freestyle, in 1 minute 53 seconds in the recent tryouts a month ago, far slower than the 1 minute 50 seconds he clocked a year ago in the Asian Swimming Championships in China.
"Most of our swimmers are not at their peak because the haphazard government policies have upset their training," Mr. Kumar says.