No one can escape the huge amount of press on the ongoing disaster called the “Commonwealth Games” in New Delhi. There is little doubt about the train-wreck — it’s inevitable as the locomotive has long left the track and is speeding towards a chasm dragging a long train behind it. The only point of conjecture is how damaging will be the eventual crash. The action is happening so fast that estimates of damage vary widely. But it will all be over soon enough and it will be a very long time before India recovers from the ignominy and shame.
Typical of the bad press coverage that India is getting is this from The Australian dated 23rd Sept: Delhi races to save its Games. If you click on that link, don’t fail to notice that the url reads, “games-built-on-a-cesspool”, which I borrowed as the title of this post.
The subtitle of the piece mentions, “INDIA’S famously inept organising style means a disaster is on the cards.”
“We were told the Games would help us showcase the true picture of modern India,” says Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former sports minister and senior member of the ruling Congress party.
“I must congratulate Suresh Kalmadi [a fellow Congress MP and chief Games organiser] for having successfully projected the real picture: an India of corruption and inefficiency.
Chetan Bhagat, a top-selling author, says the Games are a “loot-fest”. “The CWG 2010 is by far the biggest and most blatant exercise in corruption in independent India’s history,” he says. “Not only have they stolen public money, they’ve made a mess of the job at hand.”
Corruption and inefficiency has come to define India at home and abroad. The injury is great in terms of material welfare. What is worse is the gratuitous insulting that is going on as part of an attempt at covering up by those who are to blame. Here are a couple of examples of the insults.
Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general of the organising committee explained away the filthy games village by saying:
“According to us the room may be clean, but the foreign officials may require a certain standard of cleanliness and hygiene which may differ from our standards. So in order to bridge this gap, we have appointed people to ensure the kind of hygiene they are looking for is done.” (Hat tip: Sahir Sait).
In just a couple of sentences, Bhanot has trashed Indians. We are like that only.
A footbridge collapsed injuring 25 workers, some seriously. And Sheila Dixit, the Congress CM of New Delhi explained it away saying that it was not intended for athletes. Hence it was not a big deal. We have lots of people and we don’t really care how many die. See, we don’t even get worked up when terrorists kill us by the hundreds. What me worry?
Here’s a bit from a rediff.com column by Sheela Bhatt:
The negative publicity and whatever muck is being raised against the CWG is due to the lack of ethical political leadership in the country. . .
The CWG caught the people’s attention when the Organising Committee and its head Suresh Kalmadi were named in a damaging report by the Comptroller Auditor General. The first thing that percolated to the people was that the CWG was a massive no-holds-barred money-making exercise.
. . .
You don’t even need the CAG to tell you that CWG was synonymous with corruption. For upgradation of the JNS, Delhi, the government led by Sheila Dixit and the Jaipal Reddy-led Group of Ministers (who were overseeing the CWG planning and execution) approved spending Rs 900 crore. One understood that this was a vulgar show. Even this is not shocking news in India where corrupt people win in election after election. But inspite of huge corruption when people saw that delivery is absent, the frustration peaked.
Kalmadi became the face of what all that has gone wrong but one must mention Chief Minister Sheila Dixit who must face public scrutiny once the Games are over. . .
Before the general election of 2009, Rahul Gandhi’s popularity was ascending. He was going to home of Kalawatis and other Dalits as well as many college campuses around India. He was rediscovering India and searching for suitable issues.
Then, rediff.com had asked two senior members of the Congress Working Committee why Rahul Gandhi was not taking up the leadership of CWG . . .
The response for the two leaders was similar. They said that CWG was much behind schedule and in a mess. Kalamadi’s control over the OC was total and he was difficult to replace. The senior leaders also said that “it’s risky to jeopardise Rahul Gandhi’s prestige by providing leadership to the CWG.”
There are a bunch of lessons one can learn from the CWG disaster. First, the Gandhis (or perhaps their handlers) are as clever as the people who vote the family into power are stupid. They stay behind the scenes and do the directing. Whatever they do, most of the time ends up a failure. They then don’t even have to hunt around for a scape-goat. They have a few ready even before they get started. This time around the scape goats will probably be Kalmadi and Dixit. But the scape goats are not unwilling victims as they know full well that they are handsomely paid for taking on the job.
If there is any degree of success in some scheme (which is not often), the Gandhis take the credit. The liberalization of the Indian economy that brought it out of the disastrous “Nehru rate of growth” was the doing of one Mr PV Narasimha Rao. So what happened? His name was erased and the credit was given to dear departed Rajiv Gandhi.
Take the credit, and deflect the blame. That’s the name of the game that the Gandhis play. Nehru himself was good at it. Nehru’s socialism impoverished India and they called it “Hindu rate of growth”. Can it get any more blatant than that?
The second lesson is that corruption is congruent with the Congress party. But that’s a lesson too late for the learning. For over 60 years the Congress has been bleeding the country. Yet there is a significant segment of the population continues to vote for the Gandhi family.
I cringe when I see the failures of the Congress party referred to as India’s failure. The CWG’s will paint India in very unflattering colors, even though actually it is a failure of the Congress and its leadership. But then I have to remind myself that it is a democracy. Decade after decade, some Indians have elected these people to power, instead of discarding them in the garbage heap of history.
I hope that the CWG is such an unmitigated disaster that it wakes up the middle-class Indians. If it does, the failure of the CWG would be the greatest boon for India and Indians.
The CWG may serve to reveal to the Indian voter the cesspool that is concealed in India’s basement. But the crocodiles have to be removed before the cesspool can be drained. Time for the Indian voter to use the only weapon they have: their votes.
So in conclusion, here’s my take. If after seven years and $4 billion you still cannot organize a sporting event in the capital of your country, you may be the leaders of a Third World country.
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