- Dilip MS
Just over a fortnight back, apprehension pervaded throughout the country over the success of the biggest event we have ever hosted till date. The spark started somewhere in July, when the Indian media discovered financial irregularities in the proceedings leading up to the games. Gradually, the symptoms started to surface with every passing day. The media went bonkers in reporting some of the inexplicable dealings that were taking place and the country was dazed by the barrage of doubts raised over the dubious dealings of our officials.
The situation exacerbated as games drew closer; preparations were way behind schedule. Reports of dogs and snakes in athletes’ rooms coupled with water-logging due to incessant rain almost spelt doom for the games. The village was declared unfit to live in by CWG supervisors, and major athletes started backing out and postponing their arrival. The collapse of a footbridge and a fragile ceiling made the crisis spin out of control and got the attention of major international broadcasters. The purpose of showing India’s prowess in hosting such games was defeated, and the Incredible India hit its nadir. The crisis made even optimists doubt India’s capability to host the CWG. With this, the government stepped in, and the Prime Minister himself pledged to take matters into his own hands.
With a week to go for the games, the mess had to be cleaned up before the athletes arrived. The overnight parachuting of a huge number of labourers and supervisors helped to ease the infrastructural and hygienic concerns. Thanks to their efficiency, things started to look up for the games.
A widely-praised opening ceremony on October 3 helped improve the image of games in particular and the image of India in general. Over the course of the games, the limelight shifted totally on to the athletes. India celebrated every medal and the associated sportsperson. India finished second with 38 gold medals, behind Australia. In spite of the grave concerns and embarrassment due to allegations and mismanagement, this is believed to be the best phase for Indian sports as we showcased our sporting prowess in many games besides the 2-0 win over Australia in Test cricket.
Eventually the Commonwealth Games 2010 turned out to be the most expensive Commonwealth games ever with the total cost of Rs.300 bn. Nonetheless there is a point to ponder over. Should we as a developing country splurge our tax collection on such a mega event when our politicians are eternally corrupt?
We have managed to conduct Asian Games earlier, Commonwealth Games now, maybe an Olympics later, but at what cost can we afford all this? A simple cost-benefit analysis shows that any country which hosts such events incur heavy losses wherein revenues does not justify the costs involved especially under corrupt administrative environs. Imagine the state of stadiums post games; they are of no use whatsoever. In cricket-preoccupied minds of us, do we really remember and revere the sportspersons who have done India proud on a world stage? Aren’t we better off by investing the same amount in improving the much needed infrastructure which could provide impetus for our growth?