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Opinion: At India's Commonwealth Games, shame might be a blessing

A wholesale cancellation of the Commonwealth Games might just be the best thing for India.

But however the Games turn out, Delhi has failed. It has failed to put on an effortless show of false glamor. It has failed to muzzle its muckraking press. It has failed to round up its poor and homeless and ship them into the countryside. And it has failed to persuade a skeptical public that costs skyrocketed to more than 10 times the original estimates simply because the organizers are committed to making this the best games ever. (Forgive me if I find some reason for pride in all that shame.) Now the question is whether Delhi can learn from those failures what Beijing could not learn from its success.

The lesson is not that a poor country should spend all its money on welfare programs, or that developing countries should be content to remain as guests, not hosts, at international events, or that dissent must be silenced to protect national pride. Just as India's costly space satellites have benefited farmers, the Commonwealth Games slush fund, if managed properly, might have created university dormitories, a functioning sewage system or housing for the poor.

The lesson is that it is futile to create islands of cleanliness and modernity for the rich, if they are to be surrounded by a sea of poverty, sickness and filth. Life will only get better for the wealthy when it gets better for the desperate poor. Until then, as long as there is no respect for labor, no one will take pride in his work, and the wage slaves will just be waiting for the chance to sneak in and take a dump on a rich man's mattress.

Double points if he's an elected official.