Monday, September 27, 2010

"I'll be happy if the Games are spoiled" : Mani Shankar Aiyar

Before the Commonwealth Games have even begun, India has gone through an unusually frank display of public soul-searching about its failure to live up to its own hype. India's biggest newspapers and television stations — not just the left-leaning ones — have been competing to top each other with scoops about cost overruns, safety violations and the use of child labor at Games sites. The front page of the Hindustan Times recently featured a photograph of three barefoot, barely clothed construction workers, two of them dangling a third upside down by his legs into a pit. The wry caption: "Aspiring superpower at work."
Indian politicians have been pleading for New Delhi's residents to come together and put on a good show for the world. But the city is having none of it. A band of local graffiti artists have taken to the streets, tagging construction sites with slogans like "I hope the Games are a disaster." Instead of buying tickets to the sporting events, families who can afford it are booking "Commonwealth Games escape" packages out of town. Even some members of Parliament are breaking ranks. Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former Sports Minister, said outside Parliament that the $7.3 billion spent for the Games (including the cost for the city's new airport terminal) should have been better utilized elsewhere. "I'll be happy if the Games are spoiled," he said.
The athletes who do show up will find a city that has been transformed by the Games in an unexpected way. New Delhi's rich and poor are finally united, if only in their hatred for the Games' inept management and in their love for the event's one lasting legacy: an expanded metro system. It will take their combined effort to turn New Delhi's righteous anger into a sustained resolve to hold their leaders accountable. But the city has already taken the first step on that long and treacherous yellow brick road. Like Dorothy and her companions, New Delhi's residents may well find hidden reserves of wit, compassion and courage.
From Jyoti Thottam's scathing comment in TIME. More Here

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