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Ready to take the Commonwealth challenge?

By Sushmita Dutta | Last Updated: Friday, August 20, 2010 - 20:25
Sushmita Dutta
Sushi's Musings

They procured treadmills for Rs 10 lakhs when they could have easily got them for Rs 1 lakh. Tissue rolls which are available for Rs 37 in the market have been bought for almost 100 times the price. Money has been spent lavishly on every item, sending the budget sky-rocketing.

Yes, you guessed it right, we are talking about the irregularities surrounding the second most prestigious games after Olympics i.e. Commonwealth Games 2010. It should have been a matter of pride for India that after 63 years of Independence, when the country is seen as an emerging superpower.

But the disturbing aspects in governance are threatening to ruin India’s bright prospects. The Organising Committee of Commonwealth under the chairmanship of Suresh Kalmadi, the Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit and her band of ministers, who were supposed to be responsible for making this Commonwealth Games a mega-event, seem to have failed in every quarter. Not only this, a huge debris of corruption is being unearthed from every nook and corner of the Commonwealth arrangements.

The government slams a tax on almost every small and big article. As Indians, we can only hope that our hard-earned tax money is used in a proper way. But once again, we have been let down and the pride of our nation is at stake because a bunch of unscrupulous people have been busy filling their coffers. Hosting events like Commonwealth gives a nation a chance to prove its mettle to the world, and to showcase its power on the international platform. Recently we saw China put up a spectacular show in the Beijing Olympics. This time, it was India’s turn but we seem to have squandered our chances.

The very edifice of the Commonwealth Games is shaky. It’s a shame that the Rs 650 crore venture(estimated in 2003) has shot up to an Rs 11,000 crore event. As a country fighting poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, why did we allow the budget to balloon without proper checks?

But there seem to be no answers. Politicians and bureaucrats, who are responsible for arranging the games, suddenly seem to have gone on a defensive. Instead of clearing the air, they have started the game of passing the buck. It is to the media’s credit that all the dirt has come out.

It’s a shame that the financial irregularities induced the Queen of England to express her fury over the organization of the Commonwealth Games. Now, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) have pointed fingers at the severe discrepancies and corruption in every department of the Commonwealth Games. This is turning out to be ‘Can of Worms Games’ rather than Commonwealth Games.

Some of the sports venues and stadiums are not yet fully ready. Others have infrastructural problems. It appears as if sub-standard materials have been used for the structures. The tenders that have been passed for different jobs for example to SMAM, and AM Films Ltd, London, all seem to be questionable and need to be put under the scanner. If people are found guilty, no one should be spared. It is the question of the dignity of the nation!

Moreover, the hope of every Indian to see world class athletes competing in their country seems to be a distant dream. Most of the world-class athletes like Usain Bolt, Samantha Stosur, Christopher Hoy, Jessica Ennis, Asafa Powell, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Murray etc have decided to keep themselves away from the Commonwealth 2010. If the stars don’t descend in Delhi, it might turn out to be a lackluster affair.

But what has been even more disappointing is that everyone has forgotten the players. We as citizens have no idea who is going to represent our nation in the prestigious sports event. No one knows whether our players are getting the right kind of training or what prospects we have in winning the games.

Amidst the entire furore over corruption, we should not forget that we have only limited time before the games are to begin. Yes, each and every person guilty of putting India to shame should be punished, but that can wait. There is a bigger responsibility at hand. Within a couple of months, people from all over the world will start descending in the capital with the hope to watch or participate in the great Commonwealth spectacle. So it becomes our responsibility to welcome them with grandest hospitability. Let us put aside all the controversies for a while, and join hands to make the Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi an unforgettable experience.

First Published: Friday, August 20, 2010 - 20:25

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