The Commonwealth is primarily an organization in which countries with diverse economic backgrounds have an opportunity for close and equal interaction. The primary focus of the Commonwealth is to create an atmosphere of economic co-operation between its member nations, as well as to promote democracy, human rights, and good governance in those nations.

India will be the second Asian country after Malaysia (1998) to host the Games. The Commonwealth consists of 72 countries. Considered to be the largest sporting event ever staged in India, the Commonwealth Games involves the participation of about 5000 athletes from 53 countries. As per the Bid Document, the Commonwealth Games are to be held in following disciplines: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Gymnastics, Hockey, Lawn Bowls, Net Ball, Shooting, Squash, Rugby, Table Tennis, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

At the time of Government approval for Commonwealth Games Bid in the year 2003, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had projected an expenditure of Rs.399.05 crores for the creation of infrastructure. Besides, the Government of NCT of Delhi has projected thecost of construction of Games Village at Rs.186.00 crores, construction of an indoor and outdoor stadium in the Yamuna Sports Complex and the improvement of existing infrastructure of the Delhi Development Authority at Rs.32.50 crore. However, these estimates are likely to rise. IOA, while submitting the proposal to Government had, on the basis of a consultant’s assessment, projected revenue generation of 100 million US dollars. The Government of India has undertaken to meet the shortfall between the revenue and expenditure.

The funds will be exhausted in millions; there are master plans from changing airports to roads to buildings and giving a new shape to the capital of the nation. Creating a web of Metro trains, maintaining quality roads, evolving international treatment on the airports, beautification of archeological monuments, construction of stadiums and bridges, provision of air conditioned transportation facilities and the creation of innumerable hotels and guests houses, are a few major developments on the list. Moreover, television is going to see introduction of new technologies with improved broadcasting facility.

However, some politicians such as Sharad Yadav questioned the importance of hosting games like the Commonwealth Games in India, when we gain just a few medals after investing crores of rupees which could have been used for giving grants to Delhi University and other academic institutions of excellence.

And to add to this, is another fact that the rapid renovation and construction of a better transport system, especially connecting the different venues with each other is coming at a huge green cost. A large number of ‘heritage’ trees have either been axed or transplanted.

Moreover the largest environmental impact of the preparations, which may cause permanent and irreversible damage to the Delhi ecosystem, is the construction of the Games Village complex on the floodplains of river Yamuna, which passes through the city. The river also has power plants, industrial units and also one of India’s largest and finest temples – Akshardham Temple. All this implies the rampant development of an area that is ecologically fragile and not suited for urban development, as the area is low-lying and has sandy alluvial soil. Also the region is the city’s largest groundwater recharge zone and rampant construction in the area would hamper this considerably. As Amita Baviskar, an anthropologist has pointed out: “the Yamuna is neither the Thames nor the Seine. Its distinctive rhythm is harmonized to the Indian subcontinent’s seasons. With the bulk of its flow concentrated in the monsoons, the Yamuna is liable to breach its embankments if denied its present fertile expanse.”

Thus, the biggest question is that even though India is preparing to break out on the world scene as an economic superpower, and the games are a step in propelling India on to the world stage. Yet, India is still a poor country, ranked 127 out of 177 in the Human Development Index (HDI), and therefore, one must question the rationale of spending more than a billion dollars on a sporting event. Is it going to be simply an exercise in nationalism and politician supported patriotism or is it going to have some notable positive effects on the community, and if so what precisely?

The answer is that apart from being just a matter of reputation for the country, its matter of opportunity and business. Experts say that 2010 will be a year of business for tourism and sports, and many other related industries that will give India return for all its investments in a very efficient way. There will be a remarkable enhancement in the hospitality and transport industries. The CWG Delhi, 2010, can well prove to be a catalyst for major investment in the country’s sporting, social and environmental fabric since it will affect the tourism sector directly as well as indirectly. It will also provide the various possibilities for marketing, advertising, educating and introducing a new India for the sportspersons, their entourage and other global visitors to the country.

The basic amenities and modern tourist needs are kept in mind while formulating and promoting specialized tourism sectors and thus, a major economic boost from the CWG will raise tourism opportunities for our country. Moreover, state-of-art technology deployments will help in ensuring the world-class management of Delhi during the event and also leave a culturally strong imprint, as valuable legacy of classy Indian hospitality towards visitors to the CWG Delhi, 2010. Planting of trees, arranging meetings with trained-up volunteers assisting local community/youth/social service and cultural awareness groups and events and such like are likely to generate almost 13,600 full time equivalent jobs created from the Games. Naturally then, the expected economic return will be higher than before, thanks to the impact of the Common Wealth Games on Tourism and the higher number of international tourists.

I personally believe in the saying by J.K.Rowling, “anything is possible if you have got enough nerve”, and thus India must go ahead in hosting these games putting in it, it’s heart and soul. It is an opportunity for the country, not only to improve its infrastructure and economic status, but also prove to the world, the strength and capability that Indians inherit to bring about a revolution. Thus, an amalgamation of culture, infrastructure and sport must be successfully combined to create yet another memorable experience for Commonwealth Games. And so, it’s high time for Indians to call to the world “See you in Delhi”.

Neha Agrawal

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