Amidst Severe Poverty and Unemployment, We Spent USD 1.6bn on Games

Posted on August 20, 2010 in YKA Editorials

By Divyanshu Singhal:

NEW FRONTIERS AND FRIENDSHIP”-The motto that got India a chance to host Commonwealth games for the first time. If the organizing committee had worked on the games with the same motto and sincerity, the scenario would have been totally different now. India was confident of holding the best Commonwealth Games, overcoming all its shortcomings, but we had our fair share of critics.

The games were supposed to give a whole new face to the city of Delhi. But, what has it made out of it. The first thought that comes to mind is “Will we be able to finish the preparations for the games in time?” And even if we manage that, “will we be able to provide the class that we have promised for the games”.

There can always be different ways to perceive the same issue. India has managed to spend a whopping USD 1.6 billion on the games that even beats the Melbourne games’06. This excludes expenditure on non-sports related infrastructure like roads, airports etc. Or if we look at the other side, was all this money spent on something tangible? A nation like India, where a lot needs to be done about the poverty, unemployment, hunger, education, has been spending relentlessly on the games and we still don’t see a successful platform for the games in place. We may have been successful in giving Delhi the infrastructure it needs, but what about the other parts of the country? Is Delhi not a small petal of the same flower? Wouldn’t have things been much well off, if there were different parts of the country hosting games together? We are trying to provide the world with a venue, where there shall be a CLASH OF THE TITANS. But what use is all this of, when our own titans shall wither off in front of the mighty. Even if a small chunk of the money would have gone in the training of our athletes, there would be a few more medals in our own kitty – and a lot more well deserved respect.

Talking of the preparations for the games, considering the amount of English speaking tourists that the country is going to have during the games, we plan to hire workers that shall be able to speak English and be able to converse well with the tourists. We have even brought in a program that aims at teaching English to 1000 people per month so that we are able to meet the needs of the coming tourists. We may be planning to put an end to one of the biggest problems “power cuts” by undertaking a large power production initiative and even establishing new power plants.

According to, in addition to physical preparation, India aims to provide free accommodation for all athletes at the Games Village, as well as free transport and other benefits. The Games Village shall house over 8,000 athletes and officials for the Games. Indian states will train state police forces to handle tourist-related issues and deploy them prior to the Games. Roads, infrastructure, cloverleaf flyovers, and bridges have been planned to facilitate traffic for the Games and city in general. Additionally, The Delhi Metro will be expanded to accommodate more people and boost the use of public transport during the 2010 games. Indira Gandhi International Airport is being modernized, expanded, and upgraded. Costing nearly US$ 1.95 billion, Terminal 3 has improved airport passenger capacity to more than 37 million passengers a year by 2010. Not only in terms of numbers but also the facilities at the biggest airport in the country, this surely comes as a big respite for the tourists.

Digest this if you can with a pinch of salt because lemon is too expensive. Amidst all this, what have we really got to see! India has still been really lagging behind in gearing up for the games. May be I can see the reason why Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar did not want Delhi to hold the games. Mounds of debris surrounding the dug up roads and walkways across the crowded city, leaking stadiums and fables of corruption is the staple these days.

At the time when Delhi was handed over the chance to hold the CWG, so was Johannesburg to host the World Cup’2010. And we have all seen the success of it. Drawing comparisons between the two cities, Johannesburg lacked infrastructure tempered with high crime rates. Yet in four years Johannesburg was able to transform itself by creating plantations on wasteland, building new roads and replacing many of tin shacks with new housing. As for us, bamboo screens have been erected around city slums to prevent visitors from witnessing the real sights in Delhi. Out of sight out of mind. Had the organizing committee been efficient enough, they could have generated enough employment for these slum dwellers at construction sites. India definitely planned to show off its increasing wealth and looked to do away with a reputation that has haunted us for long.

With the advent of the rains, the farmers can definitely sleep in peace. With water logging everywhere and traffic jams, it sure is giving Delhi a nightmare. A lot of ineligible construction agencies have been handed over contracts for the construction of the game’s venue. There has been a transfer of a lion share of funds to the accounts of the officials of organizing committee. If even once, had the love for their country surfaced in their hearts, they would have worked well for it. Instead we have been left bereft of the plan as well as the resources.

With India still unable to tackle the Maoist problems, and the Kashmir issue rearing its head again, India has failed to convince the other nations of its security plans. There have been warnings issued about terror strikes ahead of the games. With groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Indian Mujahideen waiting for opportunities like this, we should be well aware of the threat that they pose to the games. We, not only are responsible for the security of the fellow Indians but also of the citizens of the other nations, who have placed their trust in our security system. Many internationally famed athletes have already decided to boycott CWG citing security concerns as the major reason.

I still have no clue about our athletes. I hope they fair well at the games. Their own concerns have been buried deep under the hue and cry of hosting the games. When Beijing hosted the Olympics, they not only proved to be the perfect hosts, but also managed to win a large chunk of medals. Their efforts were visible out there. We have not shown the type of commitment that was needed. The sports committee should have provided enough out of their huge budget, to our athletes for their training. At one point, we plan of hosting the most expensive games ever, and at the other, the hockey teams are complaining of their wages. We, sure, have done our due diligence in Hypocrisy.

The reputation of the country is at stake. With still over a month and half left, the organizing committee can still change the face of the games. As Shri Manmohan Singh, the honorable prime minister of India, has said “We should treat the Commonwealth games like a national festival and should leave no stone unturned to make the games a success.” It should be a moment of pride for us. We should feel a sense of patriotism in the fact that India is holding the games. We should be cooperative in whatever way possible to see the success of the games. These games are a more than just a test of our abilities; they are testing times for our pride as Indians.

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