Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympics opening ceremony (Beijing, China, 2008)

What a fantastic opening ceremony it has been. The desire and ambition to showcase to the world the progress made by the Chinese is absolutely mid-boggling. Every performance has been fine tuned to perfection and enacted on a gigantic scale. Starting with the countdown to the start of the opening ceremony, the drumming artists have been fabulous.

The Chinese national anthem was rendered in such a beautiful manner by a 5 year old school girl. There was a huge segment during the opening ceremony where the history of China was depicted and the sheer ingenuity was awe-inspiring. They made use of the entire length of the birds eye nest stadium to depict their cultural heritage. While the period depicting late 19th and early 20th century was conspicuously missing (w.r.t Opium war, Cultural revolution and Japanese invasion), it still made for interesting viewing.

It did make me realise though the gulf in the ability to host an event of this magnitude by India. While being regarded as an emerging superpower, India, for all its glory, have a very very long way to go before we can consider hosting an international event. The single-minded devotion of the Chinese governmental authorities is something to be be admired instead of just criticising it all the time. While, we as Indians are proud of our democracy, it does not always provide the ideal background to fast-paced development. It's a sad state that we do not possess a single multi-purpose stadium that would meet the rigorous standards set by the IOC. It's indeed downright depressing to note that for the 2010 commonwealth games taking place in New Delhi, we are still making use of the facilities that were constructed during the 1982 Asian Games.

While most western leaders did criticise China's human right records and there were murmurs that some of them may not turn up, almost all of them eventually turned up. The thing that riled me the most was the fact that India (for all its stature in the global set up) was represented not by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi (leader of the ruling party in India). It was such a slap on the face for a democratic country that China invited some one other than the one elected by the 2nd most populous nation on the earth. It looked like another trick of China to undermine India in a massive forum.

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