Flashback to 1982. A nation anxiously waited to see if its capital New Delhi could pull off what had become a matter of national prestige: The Asian Games. Even as skeptics voiced their disbelief, a young leader was roped in to head the planning and organization. Rajiv Gandhi managed to prove his organizational skills and the Asian Games became the first platform for the man who would lead India one day.
Almost two decades later, the situation has come full circle. New Delhi is once again struggling to fulfill its commitments towards the Commonwealth Games 2010. And in a strange twist of fate, the Chairman of the Organising Committee, Suresh Kalmadi has proposed the name of Rahul Gandhi to head the ongoing preparations. It is quite a well-known fact that the Government has been severely criticized for its inadequate efforts towards hosting the 2010 games. There are glaring gaps in our infrastructure, accommodation facilities and transport system, to name a few. The matter has now become one of great urgency as once again it is a question of salvaging national pride. Moreover, the government is also facing inevitable comparisons with its neighbor China, which has been widely praised for its brilliant planning of the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
Kalmadi’s proposal is being seen as an attempt to bring a certain amount of credibility into the entire organization process. Rahul Gandhi is widely identified as a youth icon and, perhaps, the government hopes he would be able to bring about a certain enthusiasm among the people about the event. It is also quite possible that this is a pre-meditated move by the UPA government to avoid facing criticism on this point, which is inevitable as the mid-2009 elections approach. Even as the opponents of the government would be ready to launch a relentless attack against the UPA, the party is perhaps trying to improve its image and appear as if it is doing great work in this matter.
What remains to be seen is whether this proposed move will bring about some concrete action towards achieving the deadline or whether it will be reduced to a mere façade. One can only hope that this attempt bears fruit and the run-up to the Commonwealth Games is infused with a new spirit and vigour.