With barely a month to go for the Common Wealth games in Delhi, the can of worms is being celebrated in the Indian media. What so far was kept under guard in a locker room of patriotism and national pride is out in full public view. Even though several concerned citizens in India cried foul of the high handedness, corruption and waste of public funds, it was brushed under the carpet. So is this a failure of India which has again breached the 20,000 point mark in the sensex index or is this is a concerted effort of a few to plunder what is basically the common wealth of all the citizens of this country?
The former sports minister of India Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar ruffled quite a few feathers in the Congress party and the Indian government when he said that he wished that the games failed. He must be giggling in private and public listening to the stories of collapsing bridges and unliveable apartments in the games village. These voices of cynicism have been many over the past few months. They have been silenced and branded as anti-national and un-patriotic.
Despite having close to seven years to prepare for hosting the games, the committee with Suresh Kalmadi as its chairperson has ended up confounding not only the people of India but also the several countries which are supposed to participate in the Common Wealth games. The cost of the games coming to 7.5 billion dollars is way beyond the 1 billion dollars of the 2006 games. The cost does include roads, a new airport, new stadiums and a big infrastructure drive which is supposed to be use worthy several years after the games. But can we justify this huge expense in a country like India which constitutes 50% of the hungry in the world and where one out of two children is under nourished?
The post colonial researchers will even question the need for a common wealth games. If India claims to be a nation which is marching forward and even forgetting its colonial past, what is the point in hosting such an event? One explanation would be that some of the oppressed have out grown their outfit and have now grown into the outfit of the oppressor. But who are we oppressing? The only answer would be that we are oppressing our own people. The common wealth organizers are thus plundering our common wealth which is meant for our common people.
What then does development mean? Is it to ensure food and basic amenities for our people or is it to dine with the wealthy? The common wealth games fiasco is not just the work of a few renegade men. It reflects the skewed aspiration of a people who want to be associated with money and power. We have a great bunny in the form of Kalmadi to kick and blame. But isn’t he just one pawn in the intricate game of fooling the poor in India?
All religious communities compete to build massive structures which house only the rich and keep out the poor. Our common wealth is plundered by our leaders who use it to grow into the custom made outfits of oppression. We definitely need a change in the development paradigm. Progress should mean that we try our best to root out oppression rather than becoming oppressors ourselves. Till then our common wealth will be plundered and ravished.