Amidst heightened security precautions the 2010 Commonwealth Games officially begins today in New Delhi, India. The Commonwealth Games is a multi-sport event which is held every four years since 1930 between the athletes of members of the Commonwealth of Nations. For the first time this event is being hosted by India, and surprisingly it was subject to much criticism and controversy from early on.
The preparations of the Commonwealth Games 2010 have been marred by a number of security and infrastructural problem including accusations of corruption, and these were widely discussed in the media and in the blogosphere. Moreover, a citizens group called ‘Anti Commonwealth Games Front’ organized protests against this event citing many irregularities, including:
- Human rights violation of the urban poor by eviction and rendering 200000 people homeless.
- Destitute persons (‘beggars’) have been arrested and sent back to their home states.
- Migrant workers have been threatened and terrorized to leave the city.
- 300,000 street vendors have already lost their livelihoods to the Games.
Prerna from Delhi criticizes the tendency of her countrymen and the media to exaggerate the facts:
These happenings are very bad and nobody can deny that. However what is bothering me more than this is, that it seems to have become a national pastime to exaggerate everything that is going wrong with the games preparation. No time is wasted to proclaim that the games will be an abject failure. One athlete withdraws from the games and it is shown over and over again making it seem like majority of athletes have decided to stay back.
The Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games 2010 has left a blot on the India’s image and the allegations of misuse of funds speak volumes of the inept handling of the whole affair. But the way a few sections of the Indian media has reacted seems like they are working on an agenda.
She asserts what needs to be done to tackle the problem:
Simply spreading negativity isn’t the answer and we all need to try and support India in ensuring the success of the games. About security issues, we can and have managed that and the proof is that we have organised cricket world cups and IPL tournaments successfully.
Not only in India, there are a lot of reports in International media about the mismanagement and corruption in the building up of this event and some journalists have devised innovative ways to undermine the preparations by Indian authorities. Cafe Pyala exposes a TV report which shows that an Australian Channel 7 reporter smuggled explosives into the games athlete's village to show the weak security standards at the venue:
It reverberated across the world, and added to the chorus of voices demanding that the Games be cancelled. Well, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's well-respected MediaWatch programme reveals, the story was not all it was cracked up to be.
If you watch/read no other media take down this week, do watch this to understand how media reports can be manipulated, to devastating effect.
Beyond Cynical at Desicritics, however, takes the criticism well and hopes that India has learnt its lessons and should move forward without repetition of the same errors:
The CWG just projected us Indians in terms of the un-imaginable corruption level on the world platform. When the world discovered this just recently we were aware of it from ages and did nothing about it. Hence we learned this lesson the bitter way. Because this is an international event, all the dirt came out in the open and people started washing their dirty linen in public to protect their own ass.
A Journey has high hopes for India in this event:
The hosting of Commonwealth Games would surely position the nation as a ‘capable’ country with immense potential. During the course of this journey of spectacular sporting event, we would keep a close watch on the sporting events and the response of the world on the way India does it.
And last but not the least Sepia Mutiny posts an A to Z guide to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
It’s finally upon us, unbelievable. While there is much to be criticised and learned from, I agree with what Prerna wrote – what on Earth is the point of pointing out everything that is negative about the Commonwealth Games? In the lead-up, this tide of criticism has dwarfed the Games themselves. I wrote about it for a site called The NRI, calling for people in Delhi to try and have more of a positive attitude:
A colleague wrote another article on the site, focusing more on the negatives and saying that he hoped the Games would fail, and – surprise – his article got twice as many comments as mine. Still, I’d like to think that Delhi will get off its heels and try to contribute to a positive couple of weeks.