tharoor156_JUNG YEON-JE AFP via Getty Images_china india olympics JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

The Olympic-Size Difference Between India and China

The recent Tokyo Olympic Games provided further evidence of why “Chindia,” a term popular a decade or so ago, is little heard nowadays. Whereas China’s disciplined government-led preparation delivered a huge medal haul, India’s shambolic organization led to the country being ranked behind the Bahamas and Kosovo.

NEW DELHI – The Tokyo Olympic Games are over, and the Japanese people and government have heaved a sigh of relief that the spectacle passed without a major COVID-19 outbreak in the athletes’ village or other disasters. Here in India, the celebrations of the country’s first gold medal in the men’s javelin throw – and its best-ever medal performance at a single Olympics – have not yet subsided. But how good, really, is our best?

A decade or so ago, many spoke of India and China in the same breath. The two countries were supposedly the new contenders for global eminence after centuries of Western ascendancy, the Oriental response to generations of Occidental economic success. Some even spoke of “Chindia,” as if they were joined at the hip in the international imagination.

But anyone seeking confirmation that such twinning is, to put it mildly, out of place, need only look at the medal tally in Tokyo. China ranked a proud second, with 38 gold medals – one fewer than the United States – and 88 medals in total. Now scroll down, past Belarus, divided Georgia, the Bahamas, and even the breakaway province of Kosovo (whose independence India does not recognize). There, in 48th place, sits India, with seven medals in all, one gold, two silver, and four bronze.

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