Spectacle counts in the emerging East. China confirmed its coming dominance with the spectacular Beijing Olympics. On the evidence of the Commonwealth Games village, India has the squalid air of an impoverished country ineptly governed. William Dalrymple, author on all things Indian, wrote a measured commentary for the Times (£) yesterday:
"The Commonwealth Games was meant to be India’s coming-out party, a demonstration to the world that the old days of colonial domination and subsequent relegation to Third World status were finally over. Sadly, the Games have shown that the Old India is very much with us. This is a country, after all, where — alongside all the triumphs of technology and 8.5 per cent growth — eight Indian states still account for more poor people than the twenty-six poorest African countries combined.
The triumphs of the Indian economic miracle have been private sector successes, usually in the service sector. For this reason, for example, government-owned hotels are still spectacularly grotty; but the privately run Taj and Oberoi groups, in contrast, run some of the world’s most sleekly wonderful hotels, successes that have been achieved despite rather than because of the State."
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