As if it was ceremonial and a thing of pride for self and the country, Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010 Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi reportedly owned up the responsibility of the CWG mess yesterday by stating, “As the Chairman of the Organising Committee I will take all the blame. There is no issue about that.” While only a few weeks back, there was ‘no issue’ to worry for the nation was assured it will witness ‘better than Beijing’ Games, that was not how Mr. Kalmadi’s statement ended. Neither is it the end of the story for Mr. Kalmadi concluded it with, “But I wish that the venues were handed over to me earlier.” With this, the great Indian blame game, already on for quite some time, only got more interesting for the ‘spectators’ who have everything from national pride to their daily lives at stake.
A Nation is built on trust. Trust between citizens and between citizens and their government. India was promised a very successful Commonwealth Games which were to showcase her much-vaunted prowess as a global powerhouse and Delhi’s status as a ‘world class city’. What we got instead was national shame in the form of lessons on maintaining healthy living standards and a broken and diseased city which took several sacrifices in the ‘breaking’. And even though the city is still facing the heat and is neither ‘world class’ nor the ‘Delhi’ we knew, Head of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Commonwealth Games and Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy reportedly announced, “I am absolutely confident we will be able to deliver successful games. The problem has narrowed down to upkeep of the Games Village”. The Minister had previously responded to complaints about cleanliness and maintenance as “not a major issue”.
With only a week left for the Games to commence, it is shocking that the construction work at the Games Village, let alone the decoration of Delhi, is far from over. There have been reports of water logging in the Village, and that a part of the Village may remain closed throughout the Games. Until yesterday, parts of South Delhi roads had very visible potholes while construction at C.P. and several other places of touristic interests is still on. The groom has arrived on time. But it seems Sports Minister M. S. Gill’s typical Indian wedding–with chaos right until the groom arrives, but things always working out well in the end–just went ugly. The Minister was himself reportedly snubbed by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in a recent Cabinet Meeting, and asked to stop “clarifying” and act instead.
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) CEO Mike Hooper has been wondering that when India had been given seven years for the preparations, why aren’t things in place? He was also quoted stating, “Someone very senior in government compared the preparations for the CWG to a monsoon wedding but that is not very appropriate.” Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell, who shared the ‘accept and pass on blame’ stage with Mr. Kalmadi also went ahead declaring, “I think we all have to share the blame and share the responsibility.” While he agree both the CWG Federation and India have a lot of lessons to learn from the shortcomings in the preparation, he was candid and clear about the fact that the massive work that is being done now ought to have been done earlier.
Delhi’s CM Sheila Dixit had suggested how the common man stands to benefit the most from the Games for he’s the one who’s got the nice green buses, the pedestrian tracks, the flyovers, the health facilities, etc. But so far, the common man has only had to suffer, and that to suffer beyond her/his limit. Replying to a question during an online interview by HindustanTimes she said, “The buck does not stop with me. I’m one of the cogs in the wheel. The wheel is moving. We are working in tandem now because it’s everybody’s Game. It’s the country’s Game.” We can only hope that this spirit of nationalism stays with all our leaders now, until long after the Games, and that Delhi pulls of the sporting event with some degree of style!