This isn't meant to be picking on Indians, it's just someone asked me recently how India does in the Olympics, and it hit me, that's actually a good point, or question.
India is an ancient civilization, or possibly civilizations, as Punjabis are rather different than say Bengalis, and India as we know it has only been united domestically on rare occasions, this time in effect created by British imperialism.
Caste and region make India more complicated to understand in some ways than its Near Peer Rival China, even though India is a democracy and China an authoritarian state, although one shouldn't underestimate Chinese regionalism either, including sub-linguistic dialects that are not like an Alabama versus a Boston accent.
As to the curiosity, India has one billion people, plus 200 million, rather close to China, and has to date exactly one Olympic medal.
This is not new, as India has 21 Olympic medals total, while China has over 400, a good comparison as to entry.
What's up with that?
If you look at the medal count, it correlates, save for Israel, somewhat similarly with Great Power Politics, not surprising given the talent base and resources applicability to sports and war, with India as a rather curious outlier in that regard. The national totals make that outlier status even more striking as to being ongoing.
Thus, as to these Olympics, America and China are in the lead, and then you drop down to Japan, Russia, Germany, Britain, France, and South Korea, with South Korea "punching above its weight" a little bit, possibly because it is so tied to America since it can't have nuclear weapons without Japan openly having nuclear weapons, a complex kettle of fish.
If it wouldn't cause anxieties over the settlement of WWII, all those Olympic Board leaders are easily nuclear-armed states in terms of having the ability to that, like India, being a nuclear-armed state being one of the attributes of a Great Power, if not sufficient.
But that raises a curious question: If India has one billion people, plus the combined population of Russia and Germany, more or less, and in fact netting it out cannot be said to be poorer than China, why is it that China has so many more Olympic medals, not to mention South Korea?
Demography isn't destiny, but one would think there would be a good talent base of at least distance runners, and it is curious that India would seem to have a large middle class on Chinese scale, and yet not gymnasts as to suburban fascinations and competitiveness, a competitiveness rather notable in many other fields of Indian activity.
I guess they just didn't get the sports bug in the same way, if that is revealing in and of itself as to a country being different in some sense, not better or worse, just different.
Cricket might be one reason, and possibly yoga versus gymnastics, plus a love-hate relationship with the British as a sports mad culture in part, as to revolting against some things, and yet one wonders if that lacunae of effort by the Indian State to do more says something about Indian unity in the end, or is this all India's ongoing reaction to the world on curiously Indian terms, which even if it was the latter, would be curious, and important in understanding motivations one would think.
I pose only questions, if it is a curious one, my bet being on an Indan identity that is rather distinct as to caste and regionalism, if I could be wrong of course, and maybe there is an Indian "Phelps" waiting to do soemthing in track and field that we haven't gotten to see yet, and of course since we might need to defend India against China with nuclear weapons someday by risking exchanges of nuclear weapons with China, or Russia, on their behalf, I wish Indians well in their Olympian endeavors, if it is a little curious.