Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why is this national breast-beating over Commonwealth Games?

By John Cheeran

Ah! The sound of national breast-beating over the conduct of Commonwealth Games has turned me deaf.
Yes, we have goofed up certain things. Things could have been done better. Rs70,000 crore could have been put to better use.
But what has happened?
There is indignation and outcry from certain quarters. It is quite sad the outcry has been coming from the white supremacist and insular nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and England. They have been threatening over the last few days to pull out of the Commonwealth Games, citing a long list of reasons which includes inadequate security cover, poor hygiene and living conditions, etc.
Individual athletes have already announced their withdrawals, including Australia’s women’s world discus champion.
Lalit Bhanot, secretary of Amateur Athletic Federation of India and secretary of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee General secretary has a point when he spoke about different standards of cleanliness on Tuesday.
He may be wrong about standards of cleanliness.
But he is spot on when it comes to double standards.
India has a great tradition of hospitality. We also have infuriating approaches to getting things done which can unnerve others.
But the points – security and cleanliness – raised by white nations are merely points of posturing. Please remember, the kind of cleanliness and security these privileged class are quibbling over are 24x7 realities for people like you and me in New Delhi and elsewhere in Indian subcontinent. It also holds true for All the African nations, including South Africa.
Let me say this. This grandstanding of pulling out by a cabal of nations --- Australia, England, Scotland and New Zealand – is only that – grand standing.
Otherwise, it is going to be the end of Commonwealth as we know it.
But the most important guest for India, Pakistan, yes, they haven’t threatened us with a pullout, citing hygiene and security.
If there was any nation in the Commonwealth who should have used the current opportunity to settle political scores, it should have been Pakistan. But they are coming, amply explaining the point made by Bhanot the other day.
Everyone knows that no nation can afford to pull out of Commonwealth Games citing reasons such as security and hygiene. Montreal Olympics witnessed the massacre of Israeli athletes that did not turn Canada a sports pariah. People haven’t stopped flying into New York after 9/11.
But is there an assurance that terror won’t strike again the United States?
Just because of the collapse of a foot over bridge and false ceiling, it is juvenile of news organizations to cry SHAME, SHAME.
Let’s still cling onto to some reserve of self-respect and look at the brighter side. Yes, we will not have a large haul of medals. But let’s thank our political establishment for that. Imagine, following the Chinese model, turning our sports camps into gulags to produce champions to add to national luster.
Journalists are now comparing how China managed to stage Beijing Olympics with India’s amateurish efforts. Tonight I was told that venues for the 2010 Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou from November 12-27 is ready. But, then, in China, journalists will be invited only for the opening ceremony and will be given cues on when and where to clap their hands.
We, instead, have democracy. A third world democracy, that is. India has a different template even when it is going to put the rest of the world in it.
By the way, please understand that the comity of Commonwealth nations is too big than those who are making a hue and cry over the arrangements.
Today I went through the list of nations (as reported by AFP) that are scheduled to take part in the Delhi edition.
It is long. Be calm. The havoc is only on television studios. Cracks are on newspaper columns. Commonwealth Games is happening. Come on India.

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