By Shivani Singhal:
Today, both the world and our nation, is up in arms about the shambles that are the Commonwealth Games, and rightly so. Â It is a tragedy, but I fear that in some ways the most potent lessons we can learn from this debacle are being missed. The world is so wrapped up in the here and now that the bigger picture is lost. I would like to try and rectify this by looking briefly at the long term view: the causes and the consequences, and from these two the things I believe that we as a nation must do.
First up, the causes of this mess:
Much blame is put on Kalmadi, and some more on Dixit and Gill. I would argue that these guys are merely the tip of the iceberg. Yes, they’ve messed up big time; yes, their actions are unforgivable and yes, they are a big PART of the cause. We must remember, however, that these are simply the guys who’ve “been found out”. So many of our politicians, civil servants and citizens engage in the same crimes for which we condemn these three. It’s just that the rest got away with it- their crimes are ‘hidden’ by the people’s apathy. For many years (63yrs to be exact), we have chosen to avert our eyes, to not see the crimes plain before us and to not take on the responsibility that comes with freedom. Each time one of us chose not to challenge corruption or crime or didn’t hold our leaders accountable, we taught them that it was perfectly ok and acceptable for them to swindle and cheat the nation. Â We failed to make the right demands so should we really be surprised when the wrong ones were delivered?
Similarly, we as a nation have become apathetic. From the fiery passions of those fighting for freedom we have moved to sedentary complaints and lie back with the reason that someone else should act, that it’s someone else’s fault and that we as just a single lone individual would hardly make any difference so why try. We talk the talk brilliantly but refuse to walk the walk.
The third cause I’d like to identify is a more practical one. We have become too used to leaving things to the last minute. It is a very human trait, but not one which aids great success or large projects. We’ve always had a tendency to pull something out of the bag and make things work at crunch time, but this opportunity was taken away by the torrential monsoon and the dengue epidemic. Â These are not excuses for failure, but they highlight the fact that we’ve allowed ourselves to become complacent and leave things to the last minute. This is, once again, a trait we’ve developed and reinforced over many years.
All the causes of the collapse of the games can be seen as immediate but for the most part they are simply symptoms of underlying decay and diseases that have long plagued our country.
So, what of the long term consequences?
The first consequence is the loss of reputation that our entire nation will suffer. The worst thing about this whole debacle has been the way the failures have been handled. Statements such asÂ “the Westerners have different standards, we have differentÂ standards.” are destroying any hope of salvaging any semblance of national pride. It is a great shame that even after making such a mess of the preparations those in charge do not consider the reputation of their nation to be more important that their own. Â It is a small blessing that most of the world (I hope) will see these words as a sign of his stupidity and dishonesty rather than as a reflection of our nation.
The complete failure to live up to our commitments will lose us credibility in the wider world. This fact is indisputable. We may never be regarded as a reliable or a stable nation now. These opinions, I believe, will have an effect on our economic growth over the next few years, and almost certainly on our diplomatic standing. We must remember that we have let down 54 countries, a letdown that the whole world watched. Many wise men have said “a good reputation takes years to build, but moments to shatter”. We have shattered our reputation. We will pay the price for this in the years to come, especially in the sporting arena.
The biggest consequence, in my eyes, however, is the wasted $1.6billion. I don’t believe that the games would have been an unworthy use of that money; if used effectively they could, and should, have provided a great boost to the infrastructure in the worst areas of Delhi, improved access to sporting facilities for those who’ve never had them, provided new jobs and increased revenue streams. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of London’s book in this regard; they are using the Olympic funding to springboard change in the poorest areas of the city. We have squandered this chance and our capital city will live with the cost of that for many years to come.
I have prated and complained enough. Now it is time for me to consider the lessons we’ve learned, and what we must do moving forward.
1) We must, as a nation, pull together and salvage the games to whatever extent we can.
2) We must not, however, forget to take those who’ve been directly responsible for this travesty to task. We must make sure that they pay for their faults once the games are over. This is the first step towards making it clear that crime and corruption are NOT acceptable in our nation.
3) We must extend this challenge to all those abusing their positions of power. We must challenge all the other miscreants in society. We must demand that our leaders serve our nation first and their own interests second, remind them why we chose them to lead us. Â Let us elect only clean politicians, and not allow criminals to contest elections.
4) My last suggestion is the hardest and harshest. We must all look critically at ourselves. We must ask how often we have acted in the best interest of the nation, how often have we stood by and done nothing? I believe that if we follow these questions honestly, we will alleviate the consequences of the CWG and every ill that exists in the country.
Many thanks for reading this far. I’d love to know what you think- vehement disagreement or assent- I’d like to hear it either way, so comment away.”
Image courtesy: http://www.panasianbiz.com/asia/india/commonwealth-games-2010-tickets-schedule-image-gallery/