Saturday, August 7, 2010

What’s Uncommon in the Commonwealth Games?

The only law that seems to be in vogue and trusted is the Murphy’s Law. Suresh Kalmadi would agree that in spite of having left no stone unturned to make the Commonwealth Games a memorable feather in his hat, all the efforts have been rubbished with critics rebuking him to be a ringmaster.

The Games still have time to kickoff in Delhi but the political squabbling has surfaced intermittently. While Mani Shankar Iyer’s comment on wastage of public money on events to uphold national prestige is worth pondering, but does it justify abstaining from hosting international events because of the prevailing economic disparity?

Moreover Commonwealth Games has landed in a putrid scam with overpriced items and refusal on the part of the organizing committee to share the unrecorded financial dealings with the various companies, marring India’s image in the international arena. Major sponsors are rethinking on their association with the Commonwealth Games as what could have become national pride has now turned into a national shame.

While the past cannot be undone and the controversies won’t rest, efforts must be channelized to keep the show afloat. Hence the measures to enable India to conduct the event must simultaneously go along with the probe into the scam. If the India fails to conduct the Games this year, it will take away a bundle of opportunities and credibility of the nation to hold mega events in future along with its pride.

Games are expected to give a boost to the tourism sector thus helping the national economy. For a nation which is still seen as a country of snake charmers, this event provides a great opportunity to nullify the perception and exhibit its technological and infrastructural base as an emerging power. It is also quite evident that inflow of the foreign exchange funds would fuel further international transactions of India.

It is interesting to note that Mani Shankar Iyer is concerned about a majority of the youth not being able to access basic sports facilities and that there is no doubt that hosting Commonwealth Games opens up new vistas in sports in a country that is spellbound by cricket. Would the critics hold the similar opinion had India organized a Cricket World Cup instead of the Commonwealth?

The solution does not lie in abstaining from organizing such events but in dealing with the challenges and resolving the bureaucratic deadlocks which we confront in such situations. It is a valid opinion that the money spent on the Games could have overcome the obstacles for those facing poverty and everyday challenges of living. Or would it? Have there not been enough government schemes and allocated funds that have failed to trickle down to those for whom it was meant owing to rampant corruption. For this reason is the argument justified that (only) Commonwealth Games is a waste of public money?

There are lessons to be learnt from South Africa and China- the organizers of last two biggest sporting events. China, an undemocratic state, did a commendable job by organizing the Winter Olympics. South Africa too has emerged as the most preferred tourism destination after World Cup Soccer 2010. Other than marking their space on the world map they also benefitted with an increasing economy which included job creation, better transportation, roads, safer environment and access to public sports facilities.

For once the capital sorted out the problems of delayed flyover constructions and dug up metro tracks. It looks refreshing and all set to invite the event with a warm welcome. True that there were huge costs involved due to the perennial chaos caused by authorities that led to severe incoordination but that need not blame the opportunity that Commonwealth Games bring along.

There are numerous other challenges that we face every day be it external and internal, terrorism and price rise. But tackling corruption remains the biggest challenge throughout this country primarily because it seems in the country of Gods the moral and ethical values are restricted to its religious texts and scriptures.

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