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India underperforms, Pak absent in world’s biggest programming competition

Pakistan manages to remain absent from the world's biggest programming competition while India severely underperforms with no gold medals.

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At the world’s biggest programming competition held in Singapore, the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), China bagged four gold medals; India managed two silver and one bronze, with Pakistan being absent from the event entirely.

In partnership with UNESCO and IFIP, the event in 2021 was held online due to Covid restrictions. Each country’s delegations have four members that compete individually. Medals are awarded at securing a specific amount of points resulting in 170 medals being won.

The contest consists of two days of computer programming/coding and problem-solving of algorithmic nature. In order to deal with problems involving substantial amounts of data, just programming skills are not sufficient, “but also creative coders, who can dream up what it is that the programmers need to tell the computer to do. The hard part isn’t the programming but the mathematics underneath it.”

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Students in the national teams are selected through national computing contests, such as the Australian Informatics Olympiad, British Informatics Olympiad, Bundeswettbewerb Informatik (Germany), or the Indian Computing Olympiad.

While China holds the record for all-time highest medals acquired, India and Pakistan, with a population totaling more than 1.5 billion, do not even make an appearance in the top 10. Meanwhile, Iran ranks 9th and Vietnam 17th.

The rising economic giant that is India loves thumping its chest every time the phrase ‘leading IT industry” is mentioned, with its government trying its best to sell the narrative of ‘1.3 billion programming geniuses’ couldn’t even win a single Gold medal.

It is also no laughing matter for Pakistan as its 216 million population went unrepresented at the world’s biggest programming competition. Seeing how well our neighbor Iran has performed and even Vietnam, a country that went through a devastating civil war not so long ago, the traditional excuses of ‘we are only just developing’ seem pitifully underwhelming.

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This should be a harsh wake-up call to the nation to realize that a future that will be determined through computers is one we have seemingly no claim to so far. Since our neighbor has not realized that so far, ‘better late than never’ would be a severe understatement.

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