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For a nation so large, why was India’s Olympic performance so underwhelming?

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Rio de Janeiro: India's Pusarla V Sindhu kisses her silver medal after her match with Spain's Carolina Marin in women's Singles final at the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on Friday.

Rio de Janeiro: India’s Pusarla V Sindhu kisses her silver medal after her match with Spain’s Carolina Marin in women’s Singles final at the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on Friday.

RIO DE JANEIRO (Diya TV) — For a nation of its size, India surely succeeds at under-succeeding on the world’s largest sporting stage — the country walked away from Rio with a medal count of two, and it seems during each Olympic Games, rivals China and Russia walk away with a multitude of gold medals alone.

For fans in India — one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies and most populous nations — the results and event often serve as an exercise of despair.

As a nation, India have managed just a single gold medal performance since 1980. During the 2008 Games in Beijing, shooter Abhinav Bindra captured gold for the nation at the 10 meter air rifle event. India’s previous gold medals, the eight won between 1928-1980, all came in field hockey.

To put that in perspective, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps has won as many gold medals as an individual as India has as a nation since 1900.

The hope of India’s fans rans higher than it ever has in recent history. After the nation’s inspiring performance at the 2012 London Games where it collected six medals, expectations were surely set higher considering India sent its largest contingent in its Olympic history.

The underperforming and shallow medal haul? — A professor from the prestigious Duke University of Indian descent has a theory of his own.

Professor Anirudh Krishna, who is also the co-author of a 2008 paper called ‘Why do some countries win more Olympic medals?’ According to Krishna’s paper, high poverty levels are sufficient enough a reason, this because several other low levels of per-capita income, such as Kenya and Jamaica show plenty of performance at the Games.

“India does not have a sports culture,” explained Boria Majumdar, a leading Indian sports scholar who’s authored numerous books on the topic. Indian athletes who have achieved international success are exceptions rather than products of the country’s sports system, he said.

“Unless there is a synergized sports culture you will never win a string of medals. A fundamental overhaul is needed and urgently so.”

Research shows that academics, not achievement in extra-curriculars such as sports. A popular Hindi saying roughly translates to “if you study hard you will live like a king but if you play sports you will ruin your life.”

“Indians, over the decades, have been mostly pre-occupied climbing the socio-economic ladder. Consequently, the pool of talent created at the local community, school and university levels, leaves much to be desired both in terms of size and quality,” said Arun Navaratna, senior economist at Australia New Zealand Bank.

Additionally, very little support exists in terms of providing support for those who might display an above-average athletic prowess.

“Scarce public investible resources have eluded sports.This is further compounded by misallocation, lack of transparency, poor asset management and an absence of a framework for measuring impact of public spending. This is unlikely to change, despite the government’s best intentions,” Navaratna added.

Scholarships and endowments exist for those athletes, a system which guarantees a basic minimum standard of living. However, the system is littered with red tape, political interference and even corruption, Navaratna said. India’s sporting association is no stranger publicly to to athletic scandal. In 2012, Indian Olympic Association was suspended from the International Olympic Committee for electing leaders with pending criminal charges. As a result, Indian athletes competing in the Sochi Winter Games were forced to do so under the IOC flag instead of India’s.

Just before the road to Brazil began this year, a National Sports Ethics Commission Bill was introduced in the Indian parliament in an attempt to order to improve the overall integrity of sporting culture.

Others blame instead the Olympic sport selection itself.

“With the exception of hockey, Indian sport tends to be focused on events that are not included in the Olympics, most importantly cricket,” Price Waterhouse Coopers said in a June report.

But in what perhaps could be the largest contributing factor, inequality could be responsible for driving the medal-less engine.

“The root problem, as I see it, is one of limited and ineffective participation, arising from the difficulties in gaining access to [serious sports training],” Krishna stated. “Much of the country’s talent remains undetected; it takes a degree of privilege to be a serious competitor.”

For example, South Korea, a country of only 50 million people, consistently racks up their medal count because almost every Korean knows what the Olympic Games are and has a chance to attend a high school, he noted.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a premium of economic incentives for improving the nation’s Olympic record. “Helping individuals advance to the limits of their potential in diverse arenas—including sports—is the development strategy of the future,” said Krishna.

“India needs to invest in the long term, not expecting miracles at the touch of a button,” summed up Krishna.

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Shrina Kurani announces CA congressional campaign

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Shrina Kurani announces CA congressional campaign | Diya TV News

SACRAMENTO (Diya TV) — Indian American Democrat Shrina Kurani is running for Congress in California’s 42nd district and is preparing to take on 15-year Republican incumbent Ken Calvert. Kurani is a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur and says she’s running to create more sustainable jobs in her community and to take on the status quo in Washington DC.

More than 30 interfaith organizations in the U.S. are urging the State Department to sanction India and designate it as a country of “particular concern”. Their resolution claims that the Indian government is promoting policies that lead to the persecution of religious minorities, especially Muslims.
Despite growing concern over rising Covid-19 cases in Japan, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony got underway. India is sending its largest ever contingent to the Olympics with120 athletes competing across 85 events.  The country hopes to win medals for shooting, wrestling, boxing, archery and badminton.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Nearly 200,000 ‘Documented Dreamers’ appeal to Congress for help

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Nearly 200,000 'Documented Dreamers' appeal to Congress for help | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — With no clear path to citizenship and facing deportation, younger Indian Americans who have aged out of their parents’ visas are now appealing to lawmakers for help. The Migration Policy Institute says about 190,000 kids and young adults will be in this situation once they turn 21 years old. Some of them have now formed a coalition saying it’s time to address this ongoing issue.

Electronic signature platform DocuSign appointed Indian American Shanthi Iyer as its new Chief Information Officer. Iyer spent more than 20 years at Cisco and will lead Docusign’s efforts to improve employee productivity and the customer experience.

And Indian start-up SimSim has been acquired by Youtube. The company helps small businesses connect with social media influencers and customers. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed but insiders say the company was valued at more than $70 million.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui killed in Afghanistan

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Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui killed in Afghanistan | Diya TV News

KANDAHAR (Diya TV) — Pulitzer Prize-Winning photographer Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The 38 year old Indian national was Reuters news agency’s chief photographer in India. Siddiqui was credited for capturing some of the most powerful images during the Covid-19 pandemic.

17-year-old Indian-American Samir Banerjee clinched the junior Wimbledon singles tennis title. Celebrating Samir’s achievement, many Indians took to social media to congratulate the youngster.

Jeff Bezos blasted off into space Tuesday on his Blue Origin rocket ship. It was the company’s first flight with people on board.  Bezos is now the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft. The Amazon founder was accompanied by his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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