The CWG Saga: From A CWG Volunteer

Posted on October 1, 2010 in Specials

By Tania Goklany:

The Commonwealth Games 2010 is the 19th Commonwealth Games and the ninth to be held under that name. It is an international multi-sport event held every four years, where thousands of elite athletes participate from 54 Countries. All the nations who are members of the Commonwealth come together and compete with each other at this prestigious platform. This year we have 71 teams competing.

As important as these games are, our country’s capital has done no good by bidding to host them. Instead of bring fame to our nation; it’s only bringing us shame. Wonder why we bid for it if we weren’t ready; we were given eight years to prepare our infrastructure for the games and here we are. Now two days to go, Delhi’s Chief Minister, Mrs. Sheila Dixit, says in a press conference that the work will be over and we will be fully equipped for the games but she can’t tell by when exactly, she can’t even give a deadline yet!

While cheap jokes do rounds on Mrs. Dixit and Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, one of the recent editions of Times of India stated that, on investigating they found that the Organizing Committee (OC) comprised of sundry spouses, nephews, and relatives. Are these “sundry” people the kind of people who are going to organize such a major event and take us forward? We are already facing the consequences of having such “sundry” people in the committee.

Apparently, eight years was just not enough for us to have built our infrastructure well enough. While one of our metro lines are yet to start on the 2nd of October (one day before the games begin), the foot-over bridge in Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed on the 21st of September. In her defense our Honourable Chief Minister said that this foot-over bridge was not for the athletes but for the commoners. I guess she implied that the common people aren’t important enough to her. Don’t we have the right to lead a safe life and not worry about which building, which bridge might just fall on us? Our lives aren’t worthy enough? Footpaths uproot themselves shortly after being put in place and more money is spent on repairing them, only to see them uproot yet again. Newly constructed roads have caved in and with most of the infrastructure development projects running behind schedule, it is not just quantity but the quality of work that has been compromised.

The authorities themselves launched the publicity campaign only weeks before the Games. The Delhi Tourism website was redone and launched for the Games as late as on Sept. 10, 2010. The CWG song by A.R. Rahman was launched only a month in advance on Aug. 28th, 2010. However it did not really go well with many, even with those in the Government who found it lacking pace and too slow. A whopping 5 Crore Rupees was what Rahman charged for a song, that took him 6 months and the same wasn’t approved by the majority. Six months in the making, yet a delay in the launch, and not even worth it?

The Games bring with it a spirit of togetherness, it brings tourists in large numbers, the number being directly proportional to not just how significant is the particular sporting event, but also how attractive the host city/country presents itself. This is one of the major benefits of hosting events like the Commonwealth Games. But corruption has already marred the Games spirit and the crumbling infrastructure which breaks down as it is being laid down has already kept many from the sporting fraternity as well as tourists away. And now it’s almost as if the Rain Gods have decided to punish the authorities for the delayed preparations and the reported corruption in the system.

Adding to the infrastructural delays and the corrupt management is the unhygienic and unlivable accommodations offered to the athletes in the Commonwealth Village. With dogs sleeping on the beds meant for the athletes and the bathrooms stained with “paan”(beetle), India faced yet another episode of humiliation. The village cleaning is in process and will hopefully be done in time (not that we have much in hand).

I, myself, am a volunteer for the Games because of which I am expected to defend the games. But even if I try to, I’m made to shut up because two days to go and I still haven’t received my accreditation. So, today I managed to get through the volunteer helpline number, which is impossible to get through. This gentleman, on the help line tells me since I’m not disqualified, I’ll receive my accreditation within the next two days (like it can happen thereafter), and when I asked him when will it probably be, tomorrow or day after, he tells me he doesn’t know. Does anybody know what’s happening at all? A lot of volunteers have still not been called to their venues for their training either.

With the Commonwealth Games, it seems to a lot many that India is asking its tourists and guests to choose how they wish to die. Options are Dengue, collapsing bridges, unhygienic accommodations, Rabies etc. The conditions and the ambience being offered to them keep us in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. In spite of all the pitfalls and setbacks, India sees this as the “best Commonwealth Games to be delivered”. Wonder how this will be the best ever, when even we Indians don’t want “To come out and play” in such conditions, leave alone the athletes.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.