The Commonwealth Games held at Delhi this year was very reflective of the way in which our government functions. Great Macroeconomic planning by erudite people educated in the best colleges internationally, large outlays of funds, a complete lacklustre execution with the objective of the plan being out of focus and yet a 9% GDP growth rate which exists alongside abject poverty, lack of health, water, sanitation and education. We ended the games with a result that is praiseworthy and the event passed without any major glitch which was evident to the international media. As a person who has witnessed the games with participation from family and friends let me narrate a few observations about the games.
The participants of the opening and closing ceremony and the volunteers need to be truly applauded. They needed to take leave of absence from jobs and their education to practise for up to 12 hours a day for over two months for the event. The support from the organising committee in providing good food, medical and transport for these people were rather lacking but the opportunity that these youngsters faced made them overlook all encumbrances.
Having met the mother of a member of the Indian shooting team I was told that the residential facilities and amenities given to the athletes was one of the best in the world. We pampered the visitors and any negative reporting to the contrary should be ignored.
The tickets for the games events and passes for all the cultural events was a nightmare. My daughter visited the CWG booth at Dilli Haat and Qutub Minar on three occasions and my driver visited them on two occasions and no one had any idea about the passes for the cultural programs. We had booked tickets for the sports events on the internet using the credit card and faced no issue. The stadium was virtually empty for the athletics day during which both the 100 meters and 200 meters finals were being held. Tennis and hockey attracted full stadiums while other events had large pockets of empty seats, especially in the reserved category. The food at the stadia was awful, limited and very difficult to access. Drinking water and toilets remained an issue. Being a spectator needs resilience and courage.
Mr.Kalmadi was booed when he spoke at the opening and closing ceremony and many people felt it was in poor taste. However it is undeniable that the CWG officials were not a polite and cooperative bunch of people to deal with as a participant, spectator or vendor. They were arrogant and patronising. The government lost enormous revenue by not managing to get stocks of memorabilia and souvenirs available at the venues or CWG stands. One enquired for T shirts and caps at many venues and was turned away.
The excitement of the games has permeated sports into the masses. My physiotherapist has a sister who was spotted in a government school in Haldwani and is now part of the national team in steeplechase running. He tells me that the government made her athletics career possible and offered her a job in the railways when she was eighteen and now the Police force at twenty one has permitted her to train and run for her country. Krishna Poonia and Saina Nehwal are both within the top five in the world in their sports. Let’s hope this impacts the status of the girl child in Indian society.
The nation salutes all our sportsmen and women who have done us proud in the past two weeks. You have changed the way our future generations will evolve in the years to come with your success stories.