Since the first edition of the Commonwealth Games in 1930, the world has witnessed 19 such events. But never before has any edition of the games attracted as much attention as the Commonwealth Games 2010 to be held in New Delhi, India. From corruption to severe delays, the Organizing Committee and the Government of Delhi have spared no effort in bringing CWG 2010 right into the spotlight. Well obviously the officials involved seem to think that no publicity is bad publicity, since they’ve chosen a month before the games to be the ideal time for public mudslinging and airing of dirty laundry. Set aside the delays and the corruption for a moment because let’s be realistic-this is India,what did we really expect? First things first, which dimwitted individual decided to bid for the Commonwealth Games in the first place???It would explain a lot if it was a NRI who doesn’t know the lay of the land. The only other explanation could be that we have mentally retarded people roaming the corridors of the Sports Ministry. Secondly, which equally mentally impaired person thought it was possible for the Government bodies to be able to handle all the preparations for the Games in an efficient and timely manner? We might be facing a very different situation if the responsibility of the Games was handed over to the likes of Lalit Modi. Fine, there might still have been misappropriation of funds, but at least they would’ve got the job done. It is my serious belief that the only reason Indian cricket flourishes is because the BCCI is an independent body. I realise I sound like a sardonic pessimist but don’t get me wrong, I am your average bull-headed Indian- trashing my country at every available opportunity but developing a sense of serious patriotism when finding an outsider with a similar view! But just for a while lets remove the rose-tinted glasses and confront the harsh reality.
So coming to the juicy bits of the fiasco, lets start with the usual drama of corruption. The Oxford Dictionary defines corruption as “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.” Corruption is a social evil,so does that make Indian society just plain evil? Corruption is engrained in us from the very beginning. Whether it be a quick note in the hands of a waiter to jump up the que at a restaurant to the gifts showered on a minister to swing a particular tender, this greasing of palms is a way of life. What first catches one’s eye is the sheer stupidity of the person(s) responsible for the manipulation of the books to reflect the vast amounts of misappropriated funds. I mean Kalmadi might still be able to swing the issue of the treadmills ON HIRE for 9 lakh rupees each (although Harrods of London SELLS one of the best treadmills in the world for 7 lakh rupees each) but a toilet paper roll for 4050 rupees is just pushing your luck beyond all realms of possibility. I mean if you’re going to swindle hundreds of crores of taxpayer money, at least be smart about it! So the usual drama unfolded- first the media became frenzied about the “breaking news” of corruption in the Commonwealth Games. Then came the usual denials and oaths of honesty. And then upon further “breaking news” (and many talk shows and interviews) about mounting evidence, the scapegoats were lined up to satisfy the blood lust of the general public. Mind you, Darbari doesn’t come across as an innocent lamb but he’s definitely not the biggest cog in the wheel. Kalmadi bashes on regardless, it would take no less than a Prime Ministerial directive to get this man out, and Michael Fennell (Commonwealth Secretariat) has many a sleepless nights. Digvijay Singh (General Secretary,AICC) blames the Central Vigilance Commission for turning a blind eye while urging the public to back the games for matters of national prestige. ‘National prestige’..what a joke! Is Digvijay Singh “intellectually arrogant” enough to believe that hours upon hours of coverage about the corruption in the Games will be overshadowed by crowds in the stands of hazardous stadia waving flags to cheer on Indian athletes who probably won’t win anyway? But in the midst of this flying circus, what really has me rolling on the floor laughing is politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav feigning a long dead conscience to score a few point against the UPA government. I mean seriously, what kind of bubble do these people live in? My 7-year-old nephew probably has more common sense than them. But then again, this is India and we vote keeping in mind religion and caste, morality and conscience be damned.
Okay so a lot of people involved in organizing the Games wanted to secure the finances of their future generations. Maybe we wouldn’t be so agitated if these people had given some serious thought to the actual preparations for the Games. The Central Government and the Delhi Government have collectively spent approximately 50,000 crore rupees on the Games. And the result? Not a single project has been completed by the prescribed deadline. When public and media pressure about this tardiness built, the OC decided to start inaugurating facilities which weren’t even complete! A brilliant example of this is the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex inaugurated by the Sports Minister, M.S Gill on 18th July,2010. “This is an outstanding complex and a remarkable engineering marvel. It is equipped with all the modern facilities even better than the Melbourne Games,” Gill said. The reality? The first accident took place on the 27th of July, when Priyanka Banerjee from West Bengal was going to dive and a cover on the water drainage system around the swimming pool came loose. She received injuries in her leg. In addition, on the eve of the swimming meet,the false ceiling of the warmup pool at the complex gave away. And this isn’t just a one-off facility with problems. The Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range was more or less swept away after enduring just a few hours of rain. There is no end to the shame, instance after instance of utter incompetence staring us in the face.
So whats the conclusion? My gut feeling tells me that we’ll swing the Commonwealth Games owing largely to the great Indian expertise in ‘jugaad’ (improvised quick fix)! And what after that? Well if there is a solution, it begins with bursting the ‘developed country’ bubble. India had not escaped the third world country tag, and judging by the current state of affairs, we may not be escaping it anytime soon. We are a country burdened with the post-colonial syndrome. And what might this be, you ask? Take the survivors of the Holocaust, who became obsessed with food even many years after being freed from concentration camps, due to the deep-rooted hunger and lack of food which was a part of the concentration camp horror. Similarly centuries of colonial rule have left an indelible imprint upon the Indian psyche. We are hoarders by nature, quickly gathering up and storing things found in abundance. This hunger, this greed is what drives almost all of us. Morality restrains most of us to reasonable bounds, whereas some are beyond control-bringing shame upon a nation of billion. So lets stop talking about India being the next superpower, and lets first attempt to pull our nation out of the endless filth in which we stand. Kashmir is burning, the Naxals are out of control and all we can talk about are the Commonwealth Games. Enough is enough! Either we stop complaining or we change our ways. Next time you skip a red-light, pay the fine instead of taking out a 100 rupee note, otherwise you are no better than the Kalmadis of India. If you can’t stand in the line for your licence, then you don’t have the right to complain because obviously status quo suits you. While pessimism floods my veins, I can’t help but sound idealistic, the ever optimist Indian inside me refuses to shut up. We the people are the only ones who can bring about change. How??? Now that’s for each one to figure out on their own. So go on, find yourself, take your spirit walk. And while we Delhiites stumble into yet another morning, figuring out which is the best route to take in order to avoid the Commonwealth construction, maybe its time for an entire nation to WAKE UP!!!