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Dirty Linen

Have you seen The Village? No, I am not referring to M. Night Shyamalan’s horrifying attempt at filmmaking. I am talking about the Commonwealth Crown, the Pride of India, and the mark of our understanding of Atithi Devo-Bhava—that Village.

Helter Skelter: 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi
2010 Commonwealth Games.

Sheila Dikshit must have never even imagined that a 19-year-old student from IIT-Madras would have the laughable privilege of pointing a finger at the “Gateway to your Heart: Dilli” and scoffing at the prestigious Commonwealth Games. But I am just one among the country’s vast student community (except for the Kashmiri youth, who are busy fighting their own battles), who is merely bemused by this whole affair. Congress Dikshit, who is in close competition to our Bollywood Dixit in terms of fan-following, is facing quite a bit of flak for the lack of efficiency, contingency, and gravity of this whole situation. When the All India Congress Committee thought they could get away with shoving a bit of the blame on the Commonwealth Games Federation, the chief of the Federation, a certain Mike Hooper, did not seem very indulgent. In a strong riposte to the Government of India, he said, “At the end of the day, I’m not a construction engineer. I’m not a builder. We’re at the hands and the mercy of, effectively, the Government of India, the Delhi government, and the agencies responsible for delivery of the venues.”

On May 29, 2010, Suresh Kalmadi very proudly told The Times of India that the “Commonwealth Games will leave a lasting legacy”. He didn’t mention that it would be a lasting legacy of chagrin and sheer mortification. Mr. Kalmadi, please be more precise next time. Mixed signals can be wrongly interpreted. I mean, we thought you meant ‘glory’, ‘pride’ and things of such elitism. My apologies. Next time, we’ll read between the lines. We now understand that you meant corruption, international embarrassment, and irresponsibility, lack of commitment, fudged accounts, and terrible facilities for the guests. I might have forgotten to mention a few more of your intentions—my memory is a little cloudy when it comes to enumerating the features of the ‘lasting legacy’—since there are just way too many! Good job, sir.

Usain Bolt and about a dozen other famous athletes cited injuries. I have a vague feeling that their injuries are like those infinite stomach aches I used to fake when faced with the prospect of going to school—especially in middle school, when my Hindi teacher was as terrifying as Trunchbull.

On top of everything else, athletes started pulling out. They won’t be witness to the magical world of the C.W.G. Village. Their loss—totally. Usain Bolt and about a dozen other famous athletes cited injuries. I have a vague feeling that their injuries are like those infinite stomach aches I used to fake when faced with the prospect of going to school—especially in middle school, when my Hindi teacher was as terrifying as Trunchbull.

The other day, I read this article about one rather smart English athlete, who deemed it more important to watch his kids grow up than attend the Commonwealth Games at the risk of such fragile security. I don’t blame that chap. Khud ke pair par kaun kulhaadi maare? (Why would anyone drop an axe on his own foot?) Prince Charles came to India to declare the Games open. Perhaps Prince Harry would have been a better choice—only bachelors can take the risk! Want to take part in the Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010? You should have started training to live in in unhygienic paan-stained surroundings, with snakes popping out of nowehere, where availability of water was doubtful and the construction still in progress. Otherwise, save your own skin, screw national recognition—don’t risk your neck. Just not worth it.

There is no prize money to be won, either—something that is a major reason for the increasing number of pull-outs, according to a New Zealand-based tabloid. I think the Organising Committee can look into this matter. I mean, getting funds is no big deal. Someone ate up the money? No problem, bhai. Scheduled Caste ke fund mein se nikaal lo! (Take some money from the Scheduled Cast fund.) Want more money? Stealthily divert money from the O.B.C. fund. Who will ask? All of us want a huge C.W.G. party, right? I mean, a dalit in the remote corner of Uttar Pradesh wants the Government to take away his rightful funds and then make a public spectacle of itself. Yes, that is exactly what he wants. That is his (and our) dream-come-true. Absolutely.

Sneha is a student at I.I.T.-Madras, and is pursuing a five-year integrated M.A. there. She loves reading and writing, especially poetry, and what she calls 'random writing'. She swears that she has never read a Mills and Boon novel. She loves fiction, and has a blog.

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  • Ashish Kashyap

    Hi,
    Ashish here … Good article .. echoing the sentiments of most of Indian youth . Though I have a slight issue with the last paragraph , the funds used for the CWG are from the national treasury, to which all Indians contribute ( not just Dalits and OBCs) .
    The sentiment echoed in the last paragraph is slightly misguided and loses its punch when you consider the fact that a representative Dalit govt. in U.P. wasted 200 crores on statues of two of its leaders while the average Dalit population languishes in penury .
    The CWG fiasco is a shame for all Indians , not just a single community .

    Anyways , well done . I like the sense of humour here . :)

  • Sumegha

    erm… Sneha, you gotta BE in Delhi to feel it. The Village is a melting pot of different cultures right now. AND it feels like heaven.
    YES, there were a LOT of controversies surrounding the CWG and i won’t deny the crazy amount of corruption and lack of efficiency in meeting the deadlines of so many venues but right now, the Games seem nothing short of being a huge success.
    the amount of facilities which are being provided to the athletes are just unmatched. and i do not see any lack of efficiency over there. i have personally attended so many matches right now and been to so many venues – they seem spotless!

    ‘Prince Charles came to India to declare the Games open. Perhaps Prince Harry would have been a better choice’ – over-dose of satire here? cut some slack, it’s your own country, after-all.

    Delhi is different now. it is in a celebratory mode. the whole look of it has been transformed. all branches of the Government have come ahead to beautify Delhi and it has worked.

    and well, maybe not a few weeks back, but NOW, i can totally say ‘Commonwealth Games will leave a lasting legacy’. not that it won’t remind us of the corruption surrounding it. but we can’t keep on holding onto it. the guilty MUST be brought to book. we have to be more strict with ourselves the next time, more alert.

    but still being so crazily negative about it even after all the success stories which are being told by the media(who, till a few DAYS back were painfully pessimistic about it), kinda doesn’t make a lot of sense. the media who really lack ethics and the media we just love to blind-foldedly believe without actually finding out the proper facts and the media who just hate to point out anything good because that does not count for being ‘scandalous’ enough, THEY are the ones praising it now. so the Games surely can’t be such a huge disgrace/disaster to our country, can they?

    oh and by the way, catch up on the OC, you’ll know what i mean. :)

  • Gaurav Ambekar

    Errr. What’s the point of this page, May I ask? The author seems to be rather clueless about what she’s talkin about. Are you in way follower of Sports? Are you in any way one of those chaps who writes for the sake of it thinking it’s “cool” to write for “alternative magazine”?

    “There is no prize money to be won, either—something that is a major reason for the increasing number of pull-outs, according to a New Zealand-based tabloid.” Selective Blindness perhaps, You have no clue about the extent of coverage BBC is providing its viewers back home. You complain about athletes pulling out, but I would like to point out CWG was never a high competition game but was more a setting stone like young giants of the future like Ian Thorpe (in 1998). And just fyi, there are plenty of “stars” participating in CWG i.e. Becky Adlingotn (swimming), Nicol David (squash) etc. I am sure Usain Bolt must be the only athlete you know off.

    Yes there was corruption but you have to realize the idea of hosting the Games was NOT wrong. The kind of coverage India is getting in the media abroad after the OC is the very reason why we were so keen on hosting the Games in the 1st place – “Soft Power” . Yes it was not on the scale of Beijing 2008 but at least it’s a start of something better. Please realize that CWG has done more good than harm, something which watching Arnab on Times Now 24×7 won’t help.

    BTW, this article is a farce, thank you.

  • Annoying Geek :)

    Hi,

    Arawn here. You know who I am. Don’t know if you read the comments, but here’s my two cents.

    To be honest, I like the article’s style. The writing is good – sarcastic and witty. However, as has been pointed out, it’s misinformed. Or, perhaps, mistimed.

    Although the Games were heading for a fiasco, we did a great patch up job at the last minute – every Indian learns that art through school and college exams – and now it seems to running well. We even got the Army in, and they know their stuff. Also, the absence of some big name athletes is nothing to be worried about since, as has also been pointed out, the CWG is more of a proving ground for the unknown to launch themselves than a gala event.

    That said, I agree that it was a mistake to host this event, but not because of failing or succeeding at it. I simply feel that for a nation like India any non-regular sporting event(regular would be tennis, golf, motorsport or any other yearly, fixed events unlike the FIFA World Cup or Olympic Games held at a different place each time) is a meaningless extravagance that isn’t worth the money spent on it. But that is a different argument for another time. It’ll just divert from the issue here.

    Perhaps you should be a little more humble in expressing your opinion on what ALL of the indian youth think. Then again, that’ll probably detract from your writing style. Just pick your issues, judge and time them properly and be more factual next time. Look forward to critiquing you in future, princess…:D

  • Sneha

    All critique taken. Still find it funny.

  • Sneha

    One more thing – I am not criticizing ‘India’, my dear cousin. Why would I have anything against her? I am trying to point out the inadequacy of the present government and all their committees. I am not exactly a Congress-person, so forgive me, if you are. Other than that, all was said in a lighter vein. Perhaps, as you say, I would perceive a different situation if I were in Delhi itself. Perhaps.

  • The games were stupid. All that money could have been better spent. It was even more stupid to have it in Delhi, which is a cesspool of corruption, and a quagmire of non-accountability. Next time, give it to Hyderabad or somewhere where things work. Or better still, keep it away from India until we can feed our hungry millions instead of wasting thousands of crores on second-rate athletes.

    And the writing’s not too bad.

  • Pothead

    Does this website actually encourage misinformed sarcastic collations of information ripped out of news reports and other blogs?

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