Commonwealth Games and Delhi

The XIX commonwealth games which are being held in Delhi this October clearly seem to be more of a political event that a sporting one. The preparations have been going on since February 10th, 2005 when the Organizing Committee for the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi was formed, headed by Mr. Suresh Kalmadi in consultation with a group of ministers and CGF.

The whole country, especially the Delhi-ites are really enthusiastic about the whole affair. Lately we have seen many improvements in our transport facilities, like the introduction of the Metro, widening of roads, new flyovers, bridges and under bridges and the introduction of low floor AC buses for the ease of commuters.

Most of Delhi’s population is unaware that what seems like glitter-in context of the CWG -is not exactly gold. On one side where there is an improvement in the infrastructure in some areas, other areas are completely untouched. Also, the power supply, which is a necessity in urban life, has gone down and south Delhi residents are worst sufferers of long and uninformed power cuts. Most of us expected a complete overhaul of our national capital and NCR but what we have received until now is barely satisfying.

It is also worth mentioning that even though the CWG has generated enormous employment, they have not created enough shelters and accommodation facilities for the laborers, who have migrated from all over India to do the base work. This is very evident from the noticeable increase in the number of street dwellers in target areas, especially near the stadiums and construction sites.

In some sectors the development regime seems highly ironic. An example of this could be the Indira Gandhi International and Domestic Airports. A new terminal has been constructed in the international airport. Even the domestic airport has been highly upgraded. The work efficiency has increased manifold and staff has been making efforts to become more polite.  But the thing that pinches one is that the all these efforts are being made NOW and only because the inflow of foreign tourists has increased and will increase further. Is it wrong to ask that we as “Indians” were not good enough for this treatment before? Also, will the authorities come back to their candid self once the Commonwealth Games are over? These questions sprout up in my mind and somehow I’m compelled to believe that all that the Delhi government is doing is to put up a show before the world. As if, like conjurers they are performing magic tricks and taking us to a make- believe world, and once the games finish we’ll snap back to reality.

It’s also obvious that the government has realized that this city is not exactly fit to hold an event of such gigantic proportions. To cover up for their ambitious judgment (of holding the games here in Delhi) they are taking bizarre measures like, giving incentives to all government employees to go on a holiday during that period, shutting down of schools, colleges & other local institutions to reduce traffic. Apparently they are following China’s example but what I wonder is that just because the nation has to give a starry image to the rest of the world, why should the lives of the common man halt?

Lastly, I would like to point out that the Indian government should’ve realized that India is a developing, third-world country and not ready for such a huge projection. Competing with and trying to prove themselves in front of China and other developed countries should not have been their aim when still millions of people are starving and living below the poverty line. Some may argue that the CWG will give an impetus and a boost to the economy, and I agree, but all I wonder is that whether now, 2010, was the right time to undertake such an enterprise?

Tanaya Malhotra

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