All the elements of the Universe must have conspired to disrupt the Commonwealth Games. The Ayodhya verdict could have set India afire. The flooding waters of the Yamuna should have submerged Delhi. Armchair Arnabs blowing hot air on salts of the earth like Kalmadi might have pushed the already teetering organisers over the brink.
Instead, the world was mesmerised by a spectacular opening ceremony worthy of Nitin Chandrakant Desai. Suddenly, everyone’s Facebook status was ‘proud to be an Indian’.
And you who unfavourably compared it with China’s Olympics, remember this – when babus bungle, they’re transferred, when comrades blunder, they’re executed.
Atithi Devo Bhava is the motto of the Ministry for Tourism with good reason; the poorest Indian will sweep his house before welcoming a guest. Photos and footage of an unfinished Games Village, taken before the arrival of contingents, were both untimely and misleading. Mark Fennel will be beaten to the toilet by hundreds of infuriated Indians…who will clean it before he can.
India’s average per capita income is $1031. She spent $6.8 billion on the CWG. Worth it? It is a twelve day event, bid for before the recession, paid for, after it. Delegates from 71 countries have come together to compete for medals in 17 disciplines. Many of these nations are too far, or far too inconsequential to have embassies in India. Our treatment of their athletes will do what diplomatic dinners cannot – convince the world that India is beautiful, progressive and safe.
Passing through Delhi two weeks before the Games, I saw an Indian city working frenetically during the day and throughout the night. One week later, I entered a world-class city that boasted of a new expressway, flyovers, metro route and a Games Village in the heart of the metropolis. If this is failure, Kolkata, Hyderabad and the rest could do with some of it too.
We will never see Dola Banerjee promote Boost; for players of lesser known sports such as archery, the prospect of participating in such mammoth meets is the secret of their energy and dedication. In Glasgow four years hence, I hope to find Kabaddi in the list of competitive events.
CWG 2010 : Delhi :: Olympics 2016 : Mumbai? Sure, with rifle shooting at the Ghatkopar police firing range, lawn bowls at Azad Maidan, and swimming at Banganga. But that’s just the cynical Indian in me speaking. Though corruption, bankruptcy and sloth may plague us, Mumbaikars are not called resilient for nothing.
Jiyo, Utho, Badho, Jeeto.
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