For last couple of months Delhi has witnessed a great deal of interesting stuff related with the Commonwealth Games 2010 (CWG). Be it the sensation creating images of paan stained sinks and toilets in CWG village or the images of spic-and-span stadia. Be it media spilling beans of corruption in the Games or grandeur of the Opening Ceremony. Be it a collapsed 100 million rupees footbridge built by a private contractor or the Army rebuilding it in 5 days for less than 10 million rupees. Be it Kalmadi calling APJ Abdul Kalam as “Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad” or Pakistani contingent getting a warm welcome during the athletes’ parade.
In addition to all this, we, the Indians, have been debating a lot during the last one month or so. For me hardly a day has passed in last couple of weeks when I had not have to debate with someone or the other about CWG. There are, chiefly, two standpoints for argument: being pro-CWG or being anti-CWG. Despite his departure from Delhi and leaving the followers to fend for themselves, the “anti” lobby is being symbolically led by Mani Shankar Aiyar.
And I would not mind if you thrust the “pro” flag in my hand!
First let’s talk about the anti-CWG guys. A section in electronic media has been questioning the rationale behind organizing such expensive Games. The Indian middle class and most of the print journalists also agree with this section. I had a long debate with a good friend of mine, who is a senior and very capable print journalist, about the Games. His point was that India has got its priorities wrong. When there are farmers committing suicide, when there are people going hungry and sleeping under open sky, when there are tribal people being persecuted —what does the government wants to show by squandering so much money on Khel Kood?
In his view these Games are behudagi and tamasha of an anti-poor government.
I tend to agree with my friend. But let’s not forget that pointing a finger at the current government is wrong because India had won the CWG bid during the NDA government —which shows that, across parties, our political leadership understands the importance of such showpiece events. CWG may not directly be able to feed India’s hungry but in the long run it will give a boost to India’s image in the world. In the international arena a nation’s image and its economic clout is all that matters. In the modern world, we can not feed over a billion people without having a strong place on world stage. We need technology, money, business and markets of other countries in order to prosper. Why would they welcome us if they would see us as a weak country that has never done anything greater than focusing on bread and butter? If we shall not get technology, money, business and markets —satisfying the needs of our citizens will not be possible. We can not afford to be ostrich-minded.
When we sit at the highest levels of decision making; we have to think of thousands of aspects and not just the few most obvious and immediate ones (did you ever think that the Prime Minister’s job is a cakewalk?!). The reader must not think that I am insensitive towards the cause of farmers, hungry and the tribal. They are the fronts that are most important at present and their needs have to be immediately fulfilled. But while doing so, we can not afford to ignore the stuff that can take India forward as a nation.
Some people even questioned our space research. What was the need of spending hundreds of millions on dispatching Chandrayaan to moon? To these people I want to ask a question. If tomorrow earth will going to be destroyed (which indeed can become a reality!) and the Americans would merrily be going to moon or Mars to make colonies there, do you think they would take us, the poor Indians, also along? No way! We will just be a burden for them -a waste of space -good for nothing Indians! Every nation has the right to care for its own interests. We shall not be in a position to blame America in such a situation. Therefore, if we want to save our people in such circumstances we will have to make efforts on our own. And now is the time to begin the efforts because Rome or Pyramids or the Great Wall can not be built in a day. In my eyes, CWG is a great opportunity for us to showcase India’s capabilities. It earns us respect and an image of a capable nation. We all should feel proud of it. We should not target CWG but the corruption that took place during the preparations for these Games. We should target Corrupt Kalmadi and his corrupt company.
Our concern should be why these Games could not have been organized using half the money spent. We do not want to ask why a 70 crore rupees Aerostat balloon was hired/purchased for the ceremonies because using this balloon was a brilliant idea. We would not reduce quality or quantity of the stuff used in the Games but we would question why 100 rupees were paid for an item that was worth 10 rupee. We need to tackle corruption.
If India has to survive in this new technology-oriented era; we not only need to spend on research in nuclear, space, biotechnology and information technology areas —but also we need to showcase our capabilities to the world (CWG is just a means). No one respects a weak country. Weak countries get destroyed (do I need to name a few?).
India is not weak and we need to tell this to world.