Friday, October 1, 2010

CWG : An honor or a horror ?

The Commonwealth Games 2010 or the CWG 2010 as they are more popularly known now are always in the headlines . Sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for not so good reasons . India has got this opportunity to host a major sporting event . Many would consider this as an honor for the nation to play hosts to an event of such a large magnitude and involving so many nations .But the execution and the run up to this major event has been ridden with a lot of major horrors . So as Indian public , should we consider this an honor or a horror ? That is a very intriguing and complicated question to answer , let us try and look at this whole thing in depth and analyze this .
So how did the games come to Delhi ? The two principal bids for the 2010 Commonwealth Games were from Delhi, India and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. A ballot of members was held in November 2003 at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Delhi bid won by a margin of 46 votes to 22, confirming India’s first successful bid for the Games.The bid was Canada’s attempt to hold the games for the fifth time. India’s bid motto was New Frontiers and Friendships.
India shifted the balance in its favour in the second round of voting with a promise that it would provide US$100,000 to each participating country, along with air tickets, boarding, lodging and transport. The successful 2003 Afro-Asian Games held in Hyderabad was also seen as having showed India has the resources, infrastructure and technical know-how to stage a big sporting event.
The official total budget estimated for hosting the Games is Indian rupee 11,494 crore (US$2.5 billion) and this amount excludes non-sports-related infrastructure development in the city like airports, roads and other  structures. Business Today magazine estimates that the games cost Indian rupee  300 billion (US$6.51 billion). This makes the 2010 Commonwealth Games the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.
So , that is the background to the event , now on to why it is on the news always and mostly for the wrong reasons . The games initially came to the limelight when there was public sparring between Mr.Hooper who is part of the CWG international governing group and Mr.Suresh Kalmadi over the readiness of various deliverables for the games . There was a public spat on media cameras and the image of Brand India started taking a hit there . Unfortunately the media also went overboard and played up the whole thing .
As the time to start the games draws closer , the number of hurdles that are coming up to a smooth start  is increasing everyday . It all began with the stadia not being ready on time . Then the infrastructure to host all the teams and their support staff for the games was not ready on time . The Organizing Committee started playing the blame game and saying that the DDA and the Delhi government weren’t  helpful enough.
Finally we got to hear that the CWG Athletes village was ready and a contingent of media representatives was taken around on a very publicized tour and they all beamed impressive pictures of the village and hailed it as better than any athletes facility they had seen anywhere else . The Games authorities also went on record praising the village . But then all hell broke loose , segments of european and other foreign media started publishing photos of really filthy staying quarters for the athletes and kicked up a furore . Then the Indian media joined the party started lambasting the facilities  that they sang praises of just a few days ago .
Various countries started having reservations about coming down to such filthy conditions and started going out in public and making frivolous statements about why they will  not come to India and stake their health to filth and their life to terror attacks . They all spoke about India like it was a war zone . There was an ill-timed attack on tourists at the Jama Masjid in New Delhi to add fuel to fire . There were australian sportsmen going on TV and giving emotional speeches about life being costlier than a medal . By this time , the media also invented a new season for Delhi – The Dengue Season . Even the Australian PM went on record expressing concern for the sportpersons travelling to India. There was even a snake of unknown nationality in the South African sector of the village .
After all the hullabaloo , finally the government stepped in and speeded up the efforts to clean up and set things right .After this , most of the countries that had reservations about coming seem to have relented and willing to come over . I believe that the games are headed for a start now and that they will be smooth . But as an Indian , is this an honor or a horror ?
An honor when I heard that we were hosting the games , a horror when I knew that we were actually paying the member nations to come and participate her . That when we have millions of people below the poverty line to take care of , these people make less than 20 Rupees a day . It was an honor when I came to know that Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes are getting together to represent the nation again . A horror when i saw the hoardings and bamboo boards that were put up to obscure visions of poverty from the teams that are partcipating . An honor when I heard that Sania Mirza and Saina Nehlwal will be representing India on home turf  in their respective sports . A horror when I heard that six whole years were wasted doing next to nothing and around thirty five thousand crores have been spent over this . An absolute horror when I see the extent of damage that India as a brand has taken over this whole rigmarole .
I would like to see the games begin , played in the right spirit and closed in the same spirit of sportsmanship . I wish that the media , both Indian and international started focusing on the sport and not the other things , I wish that the organizers pulled their socks up and cleaned up their act . I wish that the international athletes stopped making a big fuss and got on with the games . I wish that my country India , that is so dear to me and all of us , stopped getting hit over the follies and failures of a few incompetent people who are too short sighted to see beyond their own personal gains . Phew ! That is a LOT of wishes .

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