India is more often than not associated with happy endings. From candy floss movies, where strife in a family ends with everyone giving everyone else a big hug to the inevitable cricket match where somehow, India manages to turn a corner and win. But somewhere, this obsession with happy endings has perhaps led us into becoming delusional!
The Commonwealth games form the perfect example. Somehow the organizers took the meaning of the word Commonwealth literally. Too literally! The Telegraph had this interesting timeline - »Nov 2003 New Delhi beats Hamilton, Canada, for right to stage the 2010 Games, after promising to give each country $100,000.
»Oct 2007 It emerges that work on the athletes’ village is yet to begin, while the new stadium cannot be built yet as the old one is still standing.
»Nov 2008 The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) insists the Games will go ahead despite the Mumbai terror attacks, in which at least 175 people are killed.
»Sept 2009 The Indian government reveals that two-thirds of venues are running late.
»Oct 2009 Michael Fennell, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), gives Delhi a final warning over the delays and sets up a review panel to monitor progress.
»Dec 2009 Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, visits Delhi and is said to have voiced “serious concerns” over the security arrangements.
»Feb 2010 Al-Qaeda’s Pakistani arm directly threaten the Games, warning that athletes and spectators who attend will face “consequences”.
»April 2010 Indian officials ban teams from bringing their own armed security staff with them, although security advisors will be permitted.
»May 2010 Officials warn that the Nehru Stadium and aquatics centre may not be finished in time, after the CGF identify 38 ’critical issues’.
»July 2010 The first venue is completed, over 14 months behind schedule.
»Sept 2010 Organisers play allay fears about a dengue fever outbreak in the city. Meanwhile, two Taiwanese tourists are injured when gunmen fire at a bus in Delhi. Hours later a car bomb explodes nearby. Police blame the attacks on “disgruntled youths”.
We had bid for the event 7 years ago. 7 years is enough to transform any place. Bangalore is a classic case in point - from a retirees paradise it has been transformed into a bustling IT hub within a decade. So achieving the target of rising to the fore on the surge of the games seemed possible.Not just for the romantic mind that believed in the power of belief, but even for the practical minded ones, who wanted proof of feasibility.
But one small point that had been forgotten, was the fact that Bangalore grew on the basis of free economic forces and that free markets ensured that demand met supply and caused a point of developmental equilibrium. In case of CWG, Classical Economics was left to the wind and the Government had stepped in! So by all definitions, things were bound to go haywire. That any form of intervention causes serious chaos is true and instances of the same can be seen on Mumbai roads as well - signals manned by cops are almost always in a state of chaos. But this story got all the more murky, just because everyone has been too busy with kickbacks and corruption over the past 7 years. And suddenly when the event was 7 months away, people felt that they had to somehow pull it off! And our belief in Karan Joharesqe stories made us believe we might just be ready with the whole village and infrastructure by the D-Day at a fraction of the cost, since most of the money had already been spent filling pockets!
And now, we're at a point of no return. It is going to be an embarrassment no matter what! If the event fails, India will never be a strong contender for any event of world consequence, except of course the Cricket World Cup, which has the blessings of the BCCI and having already greased the necessary palms, it will go on without any hitches. If we pull off the CWG, the victory will forever be tainted by the intense story of corruption, broken bridges, potholes, dengue, and athletes concerned about their own safety. If anything good is to come out of this mess, let's just hope that the world realizes the corrupt society we live in in India, with black money propping up the vibrant Indian economy. And let's hope India manages to salvage it's pride by refraining from any future attempts at showcasing itself in the global arena, since the showcase primarily has skeletons!
P.S. It really disgusts me to portray such a picture of my own country, which, save for such terrible ethics is a wonderful place to be in!