In a few months from now, the Olympics will start in Beijing. But when it comes to upholding the game’s credo — the most important thing is not to win but to take part — New Delhi has no match. Now, don’t get us wrong here: we are in no way suggesting that our medal tally will be as barren as earlier editions of the Games; it is the government’s style of engaging with Africa that’s forced us to use this analogy. In a style that can give even the most-spiritual among us a run for our souls, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the just-concluded Indo-Africa summit said that India was not in a “race or competition with China or anyone” when it comes to slicing up the African pie.
Of course, we are not in race with China. How can we be? They started the game four years ago with their version of the summit and are now well-entrenched in the continent. While we were trying to use our soft power to nudge, a gentle one at that, to make some headway, the Chinese were building railways, ports and even extending agricultural technologies to many African nations. Meanwhile, we had also managed to fritter away the advantages of our old ties with the continent.
And now to say that we are in no competition is amusing. Thankfully, the Indian private sector is not in a mood for such a non-materialistic approach. It’s high time the government learns the new rules of the game: take the competition head on. A soft approach will leave us with nothing but the crumbs.