The Commonwealth Games 2010, New Delhi concluded yesterday with a spectacular Closing Ceremony repeating the similar Opening Ceremony rich in spectacle and India’s cultural heritage. More than these spectacular extravaganzas, it was the inspiring achievements of our sportsmen and sportswomen who with their medals tally placed India in the 2nd position after Australia. They achieved this tremendous success inspite of the various Sports Federations being dominated by indifferent political leaders or their acolytes and the Government not having any visionary ‘Sports Strategy’ to forge India into making a visible impact in the global arena. The words of appreciation that have flowed in after the Closing Ceremony should not dull India at large that now almost all is forgotten and forgiven. Introspection should now focus on ‘The Good’, ‘The Bad’ and ‘The Ugly’ that was attendant on these Games pertaining to India.
'The Good' that merits being recorded is outlined below and as it would be evident that it is not due to any singular contribution by the Government of the day or all its agencies involved. Here is a brief recount:
'The Bad' all falls at the doorsteps of the Government, the Indian bureaucracy and the ‘questionable worthies’ who adorn the offices of the various Sports Federations. To name a few what was ‘The Bad’ can be recounted as under:
- India’s sportspersons who for the first time excelled exceptionally deserve 101 salutes for achieving all this against all odds. It seems that they took upon themselves the crusading task of salvaging India’s national pride after India’s nose had been rubbed in the dust internationally by visuals of shoddy preparations by Government agencies.
- The Indian Armed Forces rose to the occasion to protect India’s national honor and pride by shouldering last minute crisis management of the Games.
- India’s electronic media especially the English TV News Channel Times Now deserve credit for relentlessly exposing the lack of preparation and corruption still rampant a month before the Games. Had this not been done Indian Government and its bureaucracy would not have woken up to the impending disaster that was already bringing in international criticism.
- However much the ruling party and its likes hold ‘Indian Nationalism’ in disdain, this was in full view and on display at both the Opening Ceremony and the Closing Ceremony by all Indians present. They were justifiably proud of their Indian heritage and Indian sportspersons.
- The most striking feature was that Indian girls outshone Indian men in winning medals. What was even more striking was that girls from Haryana where girls are normally suppressed or the daughter of a scooter rickshaw driver from Ranchi could win gold medals. It shows how much talent stands tucked away in the real India far from cosmopolitan cities. IF only the Government had the vision and strategy to tap them in good measure.
'The Ugly' about the conduct of the Games is really bad, really ugly. Never has corruption reached such abysmal levels and such colossal levels as the media has exposed during the run-in to the Games. It is inconceivable to the average Indian that such large scale corruption could have been rampant in agencies and bodies under the Government’s control. It is inconceivable to the average Indian as to how such colossal corruption in the conduct of the Games could have taken place with so many intelligence and enforcement agencies at it command for oversight. Why did the Government of the day not exercise ‘oversight’ and ‘progressive financial audit’ of expenditure? Or is there more to it?
- The Games were allotted and accepted by India in 2003. In 2004 the Congress Party Government came into power and is continuing till today. What was the Congress Government doing for the last 6 years, a fairly long time for deliberate and sound preparations? Why it had to wake up at the 11th hour?
- Similarly the senior ‘Indian Babus’ of the bureaucracy were insomnolent till September 2010? Does it take political plodding by their ‘Masters’ to spring into action?
- All Heads of Sports Federations, virtually, came into severe criticism from the sportspersons in not providing adequate training facilities and clearing their outstanding dues. Some of them made open threats that they would boycott the Games if their dues were not cleared.
- No Indian Government so far has ever adopted an integrated and visionary ‘Sports Strategy’ to enable India to make its mark in the international sports arena. A country of 1 billion people with tremendous talent stands constrained on a leash of Government’s apathy and neglect.
Strangely as reported by the media there was a row kicked by the Lt Governor of Delhi at the end as to how the Chief Minister of Delhi could claim credit for retrieving the Games. One is tempted to ask this former senior bureaucrat where was he when things were going wrong and accountability was being sought by the media?
On successful completion of the Commonwealth Games my ‘Awards’ are as follows:
- “Bouquets” to the Indian sportspersons, Indian Armed Forces, Police and security personnel and the Indian electronic media. Also to the thousands of Volunteers who performed a Herculean task to keep things running smoothly.
- “Bouquets” also to the hundreds of Indian laborers and craftsmen who created the Games facilities and to the Indian people at large who so magnificently displayed ‘Indian Nationalism’ at its best without being apologetic about it.
- ‘Brickbats” to the Government, its bureaucracy, the bloated Organizing Committee of the Games and the various Sports Federations office bearers whose sole preoccupation seems to exercise patronage and foreign jaunts without contributing a nickel towards bringing up their respective sports on their charge.