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CWG - A lost opportunity

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Friday, September 24, 2010 - 18:58
Ritesh K Srivastava
The Observer

There seems to be no end to the woes of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) led by Suresh Kalmadi. What was once touted to be the pride of India, especially Delhi, has now become a cause of grave concern for government and giving many sleepless nights to the state's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

With the recent collapse of an under construction foot over-bridge outside the JLN stadium - the main venue of the CWG- and concerns over the safety and the state of cleanliness at the Games Village being raised by foreign nationals, there seems to be no reason for the entire country to rejoice at this juncture.

At least one or two pieces of shocking news keep coming every day from the pitiable CWG saga, courtesy some in the media, who in the name of “responsible journalism” have behaved very irresponsibly, making mountains out of molehills.

The senseless and overboard coverage of the pathetic state of the preparations for CWG has provided enough fodder to the Western media to make a mockery of our whole system, our seriousness and our capabilities for organising and hosting an event like this.

And if all this is not enough, what has added insult to injury is the speculations about CGF mulling to call off the whole event and several participating nations like New Zealand, Australia, England and Scotland threatening to delay or boycott the event.

Thankfully this has not happened, but if it had, then imagine what would be India's reputation at the international level. With so much of work still left, the fate of CWG 2010 now entirely rests on God's mercy.

With the Ayodhya verdict due this week, monsoon playing spoilsport and the recent firing on Taiwanese tourists outside Jama Masjid, and the impending dengue outbreak, the state government seems to be struggling hard to fix things the right way. All this has definitely made the task difficult for our administrators and consequently the state government is on its toes.

In a bid to save its face from further embarrassment, various government agencies are working at a maddening pace to make all necessary arrangements before the formal inauguration of the Games. However, the government's efforts have been hampered with several irregularities pertaining to CWG being detected almost every day.

The man responsible for all this- Suresh Kalmadi - who once promised that the CWG will be the best ever, has suddenly disappeared from the spotlight. Let alone his promise of organising the best ever Games, blatant corruption, lack of seriousness and directionless work of the OC members has certainly made it the costliest ever in the history of CWG. Just imagine, Rs 70,000 crore have been wasted, yet we are not ready for the events!

What could have been an opportunity for India to shine at the world stage and showcase its might has been completely lost. The government’s failure to act swiftly against the corrupt OC officials in the nick of time has only aggravated the risk of New Delhi facing more international embarrassment in its future bids for hosting major events, in case we ever do.

And it’s not that the government was unaware of the alleged wrong doings of the OC officials or the slow pace of work, it only kept trying to cover up the entire mess by assuring that things will be fall in right place at the end. Maybe magically?

The international media’s coverage of the pathetic state of affairs of the CWG has appalled Indians settled abroad. It won’t be surprising if their foreign neighbours and colleagues would be taking pot shots at them and laughing at the highly irresponsible attitude of our political leadership.

The previous CWG events in a relatively small princely state like Qatar were a huge success and our arch-rival China silenced critics by hosting a super successful Olympics at Beijing. We have probably learnt no lessons from these countries.

Mr Kalmadi and his men had seven years to draw a blue print and prepare for the Games, but the OC probably relied more on the fabled Indian 'jugad' and wasted crucial time until the last minute to get things in order. And more than OC, it has now become a prestige issue for the Delhi government to clear the whole mess at any cost.

We often take pride in saying the 1982 Asiad Games were highly successful, but forget to acknowledge that the government had planned the event at a much smaller scale and thus not hazarded biting off more than it could chew. Moreover, media focus was less glaring.

However, I also blame the Indian habit of doing things at the eleventh hour for the sorry state of affairs of CWG since the Organising Committee members are also Indians after all. Our unending faith in jargons like ‘ho jayega’ or ‘kuch jugad karohas’ has reduced us to such a sorry state. We want to be at par with the West but are not ready to have the same work commitment required for being in the elite club. We practically never execute things as per plan and instead talk about collective responsibility to save our behind. We Indians need to understand that the jugad model does not always help to fix things so there is an urgent need to change our work culture and inculcate a greater sense of responsibility in order to be efficient and reliable.

Whatever we do, the westerners will remain concerned about safety, security and hygiene etc. our government should now fix things in time and satisfy the participating nations save face. The CWG has made headlines for all the wrong reasons since the beginning, but it needs to end on a positive note.

The government can leave the introspection for later, but needs to plug all the loopholes first and spread a positive word about the CWG events. This is the reason why all rival political parties, cutting across the party lines, have supported the government’s action and expressed hopes for the success of CWG since no one and nothing is above the nation.

First Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 - 18:58

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