Archive for September, 2010

CWG 2010 – National Shame or Pride

If River Yamuna doesn’t over run Delhi and the rain Gods to whom our ex Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar praying to answers or not the 19th Common Wealth Games will be held in New Delhi between 3rd October 2010 to 14 October 2010. All the people who were on verbal overdrive against Mani Aiyar is wondering will the Games be a National Shame or Pride? Will good CWG absolve the Indian Government and Kalmadi of culpability in the mess?

The mess actually started from the bid for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The 2 principal contenders were New Delhi and Canada. In the ballot held in November 2003 at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, New Delhi won the bid by a margin of 46 votes to 22, confirming India’s first successful bid for the Games. India’s bid motto was “New Frontiers and Friendships” and Canada was bidding for hosting the Games for the 5th time.

The Indian delegation was lead by Sports Minister in the Vajpayee Cabinet, Vikram Verma, Delhi’s Lt Governor Vijai Kapoor, the late Minister of State for External Affairs Digvijay Singh, Indian Olympic Association Secretary General Randhir Singh, former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar,  former world billiards champion Michael Ferreira and world women’s air rifle shooting champion Anjali Bhagwat, and among others. The delegation also carried video messages from then Prime Minister Vajpayee and the then Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi to wooing the delegates.

India shifted the balance in its favour in the second round of voting with a promise that it would provide $ 7.2 million to the Games associations of the 72 Commonwealth members as a fund for development of athletes. It was this last-minute offer before the vote to give US$100,000 to each participating country, along with air tickets, boarding, lodging and transport which tilted the balance in favour of India. As the Indian delegation celebrated, Canada cried foul. Later the Indian government agreed that would underwrite the total cost of organizing the Games. 

The official total budget estimated for hosting the Games is   Rs. 114.94 billion (U$ 2.5 billion) and this amount excludes non-sports-related infrastructure development in the city like airports, roads and other structures. But new paper reports say estimates that the games cost Rs. 300 billion (U$6.6 billion). This makes the 2010 Commonwealth Games the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever, being larger than the previous games in Melbourne 2006 (approx. US$ 1.1 billion).

The organisation was beset by delays: 16 months after winning the bid in November 2003 India put the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee in place and the next year,  the year of governance transition between the NDA and UPA (in May), was year of juntas. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA)organised a study tour for senior Delhi Development Autority (DDA) officials to Sydney, Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur to learn from their Games experience.

Feb 2005: The IOA Vice-Chairman Raja Randhir Singh expressed concern that Delhi was not up to speed in forming and organising its games committee and called for a revamp of the games’ organising committees: Jarnail Singh, a former Secretary of the Government of India, was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and IOA President Suresh Kalmadi was appointed the Organising Committee Chairman. Kalmadi became the head of the committee through political and bureaucratic manoeuvring much against bid document where he is shown as the Vice-Chairman of the OC.

Mar 2005: The Games date were fixed from October 3 to 14, 2010 at the first meeting of the Executive Board of the Organising Committee CWG 2010. Assessments, meetings and reviews continued right through the year with two more executive board meetings.

Jan 2008: The logo for the Games was launched on January 6 to coincide with the ‘1000 days to go’ celebrations.

Oct 2008: With just under two years to go for the mega event, India Post released a commemorative stamp on ‘Shera’, the mascot of the Games.

Jan 2009: An Indian Government report showing two thirds of venues were behind schedule, Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell stated that the slow progress of preparations represented a serious risk to the event.

May 2009: With just over 500 days to go for the Games, the fifth Coordination Committee Meeting was held with members of the CGF that included its CEO Mike Hooper.

Sep 2010: The Games Anthem was released while work was still going on the Games Village. Even today as i write this article the Games Village is not fully ready for occupancy and we are just a week away from the Inauguration.

In the bid document for he Commonwealth Games, IOA claimed that the OC would be a non-profit, government-owned registered society. This non profit society spend 4.7million on food for the 5 odd meetings of the executive committee. The Sports Minister KPS Gill in a written reply in the Indian Parliament says that estimated cost of staging the Games infrastructure alone has escalated from  6.5 billion (U$ 1.42 billion) to   115 billion (U$ 25.12 billion). The Central Vigilance Commission begins investigating the manipulation but we Indians sure have come to a stage to say “Come back Lalit Modi… All is forgiven. At least you organised the 20-20 Games”.

‘U’ turn into the wrong lane

India is the land of paradox and contradictions: thousand of poor across the country is committing suicide; thousand of tons of food grains rotting in Food Corporation of India (FCI) depots across the country; Supreme Court wraps the Government of India for mismanagement of food stock and the honourable Prime Minister “respectfully” ticks off the Supreme Court, that tackling food shortage, rotting food grains etc., – are all policy matters.

The Governments own records shows that as on Jan 1 this year, 10,688 lakh tonnes of food grains were found damaged in FCI depots, enough to feed over six lakh people for over 10 years. A right to information (RTI) query reveals that between 1997 and 2007, 1.83 lakh tonnes of wheat, 6.33 lakh tonnes of rice, 2.20 lakh tonnes of paddy and 111 lakh tonnes of maize were damaged in different FCI godowns. But what the Head of our Government says is that it is for his government, not the court, to decide what to do with the grain now rotting in millions of tons – 17,000 tons to be exact.

This is the same kind of arrogance that had done the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in, in the 2004 Elections. The people of India took the now famous ‘India Shining’ campaign as rubbing salt in the wound. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, the Economist PM Manmohan Singh, the embodiment of austerity and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi  and the new Messiah of  tribals and PM in waiting, Rahul Gandhi should know that you can’t reap political dividend from the big-ticket National Food Security Bill and lip service of social inclusive growth. In order to create an ‘Incredible India’ what is important is doing public good. The Government should not be worried that Apex Court has stolen a march over them by stepping into the realm of “policy formulation” as the PM put it.

Though Manmohan Singh didn’t confront the Apex Courts judgement opening he questioned the ruling by asking “How can we give food to 37% of India’s population”. What he has conveniently forgotten is that, if the Agriculture Minister, who is digging his sticky figures in the Cricket money and had concentrated on policy formulation, the Court had no reason to intervene. And if Government of India policy dictates that food grains stored in the government run FCI depots go bad rather than let hungry people eat it, so be it. That sure is no business of the Indian Supreme Court, Mr. Prime Minister.

Photo: Coyright with Yahoo