Connect to share and comment

Commonwealth Games mar New Delhi's image

Rampant corruption promises to tarnish the event itself — if not prevent it from happening.

A few heads have rolled but action has stopped short of Suresh Kalmadi, a leader of the ruling Congress Party and long-standing head of the Indian Olympic Committee who is ultimately in charge of the Commonwealth Games. The Congress Party’s leaders have repeatedly emphasized that national pride is at stake and it's time to band together.

“What national pride?” asked Memon, who felt that India’s hopes of bidding for the Olympics or any future major sports event were now completely dashed. “For an emerging economic giant, this is really gloomy.”

The games are being highlighted as a total squander of public money. Television channels are focusing on the pathetic facilities provided for the hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers who have been employed to build the infrastructure for the games. City officials have gone on large-scale campaigns to rid the city of poor squatters and slum-dwellers. Yet, New Delhi still looks like a giant digging site.

“Why should the aam janata [average person] be blackmailed over national pride? The games will benefit nobody … not India’s future athletes, not its citizens,” Nachappa said, echoing the popular feeling that the millions of rupees could be better spent building roads, schools and hospitals.

Some optimistic commentators are breezily saying that the New Delhi Commonwealth Games will finally fall in place, like a chaotic, disorganized Indian family pulling off a picture-perfect wedding. But average Indians doubt it.

Tanvi Rajaram, a Bangalore-based insurance executive, jokingly asked: “Will the bride arrive at her wedding in a state of undress?”