The Commonwealth Camouflage

My maid has not come to work for the past several days. The reason? Her husband and daughter are in the hospital with dengue. I got word from her this evening that they have been discharged. Whew!

You walk out on the roads after a generous application of the mosquito repellent cream, afraid of getting bitten but still hapless to prevent any other airborne virus from attacking you and laying you low. Hospitals don’t have beds; you can imagine the plight of the poor who can’t even afford the cost of a good hospital and have to settle for the ones that might not even be able to cope with the outbreak.

The statistics are grim: they state that the incidence of dengue is 120 times more than at the same time last year. A report says that out of the nearly 70,000 areas identified as mosquito breeding ground hospitals are leading, with AIIMS and Apollo, at the top!

The city is a mass of stagnant water. Unfinished construction and pot-holed roads are breeding millions of disease carrying mosquitoes that are waiting to taste our blood. The other day India’s health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad vowed that he would ensure a dengue free Delhi in two weeks. Wow! If he were that capable, what was he doing all these months when thousands were affected and dying? Did he have to wait for the Commonwealth Games to descend upon the city to clean it up?

And when thousands of crores are being spent on beautifying the city’s façade and widening of the roads to impress the international community, why couldn’t he have spent a fraction of it to see that the stagnant pools of mosquito farms were sprayed and disinfected?  Today this is being taken up on a war footing – why was it not done before the mosquito breeding season began – before the CWG were due? Is the life of Indians so cheap that we are galvanized into action only when foreigners’ lives have to be protected?

Wipro Chairman Aziz Premji pleaded for more playgrounds and basic sports facilities to develop the sports culture in India instead of splurging on a sporting extravaganza like the CWG. Understandably his comments have attracted a lot of criticism from the organizers. When the Supreme Court itself is pulled up by our PM for advising the free distribution of the rotting food grains to BPL families, what can Premji expect for his plea?

We need primary health care and civic cleanliness. We need more public toilets and the garbage collection needs to be tightened up. Open drains need to be covered to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. All the money going into the construction of ‘villages’ for the athletes should have gone in building dwellings for the slum dwellers so that they could live in sanitary conditions. Who cares to impress the world when we know we are sitting on a garbage dump, which we are trying to camouflage to appear beautiful?

And guess what? We are going to have thousands of athletes and sportspersons in our wonderful city in a few weeks. Already the CEO of the CWG has issued dengue warning to 71 countries. Wonder how many would decide to stay away! Two of our cyclists have already fallen prey to the deadly mosquito. Participating countries are clamouring to know what is being done on this front.

Are we so rich that that we can throw away thousands of crores , so that the world goes back thinking, ‘Wow! That’s a rich country! I wiped my ass on a $90 toilet roll!!’ We are literally going to push undercover our daily wage earners – the rikshaw-wallahs, vegetable vendors and such so that we ‘look’ like a developed country.  And what about their livelihood? Who is going to feed them if they don’t go on their daily rounds of work?

Who cares, as long as the organizers and their cronies line their Swiss bank accounts at the cost of these poor sods? These games are reportedly the costliest mega sporting event ever oranised – and this includes the Olympic Games! How about that?

Like Premji said, ‘How can we forget that for Rs 28,000 crore we could have established primary schools and health centers in tens of thousands of villages? Can we ignore this splurge the next time a malnourished child looks at us in the eye?’

Let us forget the socio-economic aspect for a moment. What about the preparations? This is not an event that can be put together at the last moment after taking it easy for seven years. Fears of incomplete venues and poor construction causing injuries are rampant.

The doping scandal is another thing that is adding to the nation’s woes. More and more disciplines are falling prey to the doping tests. At this rate, we might not get any medals at all. Again, who cares? We have ‘proved’ to the international community that we are capable of hosting a sporting event of this magnitude, haven’t we?

And as for the medals, it is not new for us to come back empty- handed from competitions and sporting events, are we? Only this time we will remain empty- handed in our own country.  We have gone beyond being shameless in this department, so it hardly matters, does it?

I know there are all those who are breathlessly waiting for the magnificent show to take place so that they can feel proud of their country. But I, for one would only feel proud the day the powers that be take a good look at the invisible people who make this wonderful country tick and do something to make their lives worth living – instead of hiding them away from the eyes of the world as if they are a shame!

At the end of the entire extravagant exercise can we honestly say, ‘Mera Bharat Mahan?’

31 comments

  1. Hi…..i wont comment on the disasters that have surrounded the CWG as already a lot has been said about that. The brighter side of things is that we had a stupendous opening ceremony which somewhat lay to rest the misgivings and negativity that was floating around before the games began.

    As for performance of our athletes… i can say that All that Glitters IS god with a medal tally of 34 on morning of day 6. Let’s wait and watch….

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  2. Z…U have put it so well…and unfortunately much as we want to say – “mera bharat mahaan” our politicians do their best to undo it…Sigh!

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    1. Today I saw our wonderful CM hogging media attention and telling how ‘horrified’ she had been at the Games Village and all. The socialite surely knows how to become the ‘darling’ of the media — about whose credibility the less said the better.

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  3. There are so many points here that most Indians echo in your blog. While many of think we should probably get our core issues of poverty, health and education resolved first before we undertake ventures such as the CWG, what I do feel is, these core issues that Premji has spoken about too, are not going to be eradicated anytime soon, even if you care to remember the shining growth numbers etc and that other development should go on albeit on a different track. The CWG would indeed have been an excellent showcase of a prospering India had it been executed properly. Why 7 years to develop a city which is by no means underdeveloped is not a short time to do so. But ofcourse, Alas!, the rest I hope doesn’t go down in the annals of India’s ‘failed’ history. What I am basically saying is, encouragement of sports, art, research and other activities which do take up funds should be taken up no matter what but only with a promise of living upto the expectations and purpose its intended for instead of the purpose of making insane amounts of money from the taxpayers alone.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog! I’ll make sure there’s something new when you visit the next time!
    P.S: These days my hubby reads your blogs and enjoys them immensely though he mayn’t comment!

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    1. That’s what is the growing sentiment here too: that the Games could have been done very well despite the other issues just as the 1982 Asian Games had been. Instead, we have an inefficient govt that is hellbent only on protecting its proteges and a hysterical media highlighting every goof up. The whole thing has become even more complicated with floods and other issues like deporting migrant labour and beggars making it an insensitive exercise. I agree that promoting culture, sports and arts should go side by side with development but should be in proportion at least.

      I am glad your hubby likes my posts! Maybe he sees a bit of himself in the brats/L&M ?? 🙂

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  4. Hey, long time no see, Sahitya!

    What you feel is exactly what Premji said and countless Indians endorse. But the way the media is trashing the games by only talking of the corruption and scams, it is harming even the development of one city — Delhi. Let us pray that somehow the games go on to justify the sacrifices of countless Indians to make it happen — the labourers and the common man, who is bearing the brunt of the expenses by way of taxes.

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  5. Sahithya Baskaran · · Reply

    And as far as this comment by witty jester is concerned — “These games are the reasons that the development of infrastructure has actually been accelerated” — the devlopment ur talking abt had an effect only in Delhi which had better infrastructure than most other cities even prior to the CWG.What about overall development?

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  6. Sahithya Baskaran · · Reply

    Brilliant post.”Who cares to impress the world when we know we are sitting on a garbage dump, which we are trying to camouflage to appear beautiful?” — nails my feelings exactly.
    Each day i see a new headline broadcastng the disastrous way CWG organisation is turning out… venue,hygiene etc. A couple of foreign countries commenting on the poor hygiene could be even dismissed to the difference in hygiene standards and expectations, but a foot bridge collapsing and the image in the front page showing the rubble and the dust is a mark of disgrace and totally unacceptable. The CWG has undone all the accolades India had been getting off late.Pathetic.

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  7. Well-written! I completely agree.. All that money could have been used for a better cause..

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    1. Thanks for the comment and welcome here, Minstrel! I read your post and can now understand the ‘uses’ you have in mind! 😀

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  8. Their must always be a balance maintained I feel if we want our country to be a developed state,spending on basic infrastructure,ensuring the unprivileged are provided with basic amenities,developing the primary education framework are no doubt important but what is also important is being a part of the global community which these games will undeniably provide us,not that over expenditure and personal gains are justified.These games are the reasons that the development of infrastructure has actually been accelerated,work has been undertaken on a war footing,the citizens must be appreciative of the fact that government has actually taken this initiative for global visibility and not fret about minor temporary inconveniences caused,I am not saying that this gives the government a reason to turn a blind eye to the problems faced by people but still it is time all of us stop being overcritical and help make these games successful.

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    1. That is a very good point about global visibility and all. I also agree about infrastructure development, but the expenses are monumental and only one city is getting the face-lift, and that too in areas which would not be used once the games are over for eg., the stadia. Like every Indian I too want my country to stand proud, which is why I am asking all my commenters to pray for the best!

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  9. Cool article man.. Nicely written……..

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    1. Hey thanks Mayank. I hope you are praying that the Games succeed and make us look ok. 😀

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  10. Like the saying goes, In India, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    In India, the laws are so framed that the common man, even if he knows all about the corrupt practices going on can not do much about it.

    If India as a nation needs to be improved we need a second revolution. The first one freed us from the Britishers. We need the second one to free us from corruption.

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    1. Welcome here Kevin! What you say is absolutely true. We indeed need another revolution and this time it should be the younger generation that should rise up and fight the corrupt. If the janta unites, no one can stand its fury, right?

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  11. I am just worried and justifiably so that our Bharat Mahan will end up becoming a laughing stock in the international arena.

    100 athletes and officials have pulled out from CWG. Hundreds of crores spent yet we have leaking incomplete stadiums, a city ravaged, caught up in traffic snarls and unscrupulous officials making hay while the sun shines.

    And now we have the slushy Yamuna threatening to flood the city…It couldn’t get any better.

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    1. It certainly couldn’t get any ‘better’, can it? Already many countries are clamouring for updates on the preparations and the safety of their participants. It is a wonder that countries are not withdrawing en masse! It is really eating every Indian up wondering about the image of the country vis-a-vis the Games.
      With the Yamuna in spate, even the Games Village is in danger of being waterlogged. won’t it be a monumental irony if our leaders are dolled up at the opening ceremony and mouthing empty words while the common man is left grappling with diseases post floods? Let us all pray to the Almighty to see that the floods spare Delhi and thereby the common man.

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  12. and all this when a very senior member of the government and a member of the Rajya Sabha Mr.Mani Shankar Aiyar has been shouting from the roof tops that this event is doomed ever since India decided to host it!! it has become an ego issue now and to assuage the bloated egos of powers that be, lives of millions are dispensable!

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    1. Doesn’t it make one’s blood boil, magiceye? Personal scores, personal gains, bloated egos, you name it our leaders suffer from every one of them. Leaving it all in the hands of one individual was the biggest blunder we could have committed when for even the tiniest thing we have elephant-sized committees! Keep your fingers and toes crossed for the Games to go on — at least to justify the money spent!

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  13. The CWG was taken up to do our nation proud……..the way things are at the moment(less than 3 weeks away from the event)I hope it doesn’t end up bringing shame to the nation instead !

    On the food grain distribution front I agree with Siddharth Kumar….the SC has no business to provide unsolicited advice to the government and the PM was very right to point it out to the SC !

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    1. Exactly my sentiments, Chits. What should have been a showcase of our country is in dire danger of falling flat on its face, thanks to passing the buck and last minute cover-ups. Now, with Yamuna in spate, god knows how many more diseases are going to plague the capital and the authorities in their efforts to meet the deadline of CWG will have even less time and resources for the poor man affected by it. Bah!

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  14. Interesting post that pretty much sums up the state of the National Capital… I was in Pune when CYG 2008 happened. The local government bodies went all out to beautify and redecorate the city and build up amenities and infrastructure at least in the areas where athletes would be present. I agree that CWG should not be the impetus for improving the national capital but I still feel its a blessing in disguise… even if under the guise of CWG driven improvements, the city is getting a much needed facelift… enough to sustain it for another couple of decades if not more… Which is actually the purpose of hosting these games in the first place for most countries… a chance to improve and show off your country…
    On a side note, though the PM did commit a faux pas when he reprimanded the SC, he was correct technically… The Constitution of the country lays down very clearly what are the responsibilities of the legislature (making policies and governing the country) and the judiciary (interpretation of the Constitution and laws in their true and correct spirit). As such, the SC has no business providing unsolicited advice to the legislature and so I believe that the PM was right in asking the SC to respectfully keep their noses out of this one. Please remember this is not the first time foodgrains are rotting in one place and there’s a famine in another… Almost every year immense quantities of foodgrains are lost to rains, floods, vermin, etc. even when there is a famine elsewhere. There is a proper system to distribute foodgrains to BPL families at highly subsidised rates… Why then should the government be made to distribute it free of cost?

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    1. I will go with Premji’s statement that when the rest of the country is crying for good roads and other basic amenities, and when funds are not flush, is it justifiable to only spend on one city and that too on things like stadia and stuff? What are we going to show off? Leaky roofs and flooded tracks because the construction is shoddy? I don’t contest that the Parliament is supreme in policy matters but when you don’t prioritize on matters like safeguarding your food grain, the least you can do is give it away. But the Supreme Court obviously doesn’t know our netas and janta that well. While the netas will line their pockets even while distributing free grains, the janta for its part will sell it off in the blackmarket for a few bucks. That’s the state of affairs in our Mahan Bharat!

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  15. so true. I have been reading about the dengue fever, people falling sick and some dying from it. I am both scared and angry. scared because my daughter lives and studies in Delhi and I am afraid for her health and angry because like you, I would like to know who gives a damn?

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    1. Yes, that’s what is really galling — no one gives a damn so long as their personal axes are ground to their satisfaction. Make suitable socialist noises, empty gestures and a lot of posturing to get international attention and they think they are wonderful rulers!

      I am sure your daughter will be safe. We are all in the boat with her too, so relax!

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  16. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shrinath Vashishtha, Vineet Rajan. Vineet Rajan said: The Commonwealth Camouflage http://goo.gl/fb/MksIg […]

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  17. Excellent post… Very intriguing and quite an eye-opener for the Ostrich-like attitude of the brazenly snobbish government… Agree with all that you’ve said, categorically! Thank you for the good post and for your kind comments on my latest blog post about the Seaplanes taking off in the Andaman Islands.

    Keep blogging with purpose the way you are and keep sharing… Good luck and cheers! 🙂

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    1. It is nice to see you here Shrinath! Thanks for the kind comments. You have used the right word — snobbish, for that is what this government is all about and also ostrich like since they don’t want to see the long term effect of their actions. The Games village itself is in the flood zone and is in danger of being inundated with the flood threat looming large over Delhi!

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  18. Beautiful and well written article.

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    1. Welcome here Rookie! Thanks for the comment. Do visit again!

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