Who are the Commonwealth Games for?

April 13, 2010

INDIA-COMMONWEALTH/GAMESAs India races to get ready for the Commonwealth Games, graffiti questioning their mass appeal has appeared over the last few weeks near some of the venues hosting the October event.

The graffiti in English, a language many middle-class well-to-do Indians are proficient in, questions the Games’ focus.

“Pro-rich anti-poor CWG sucks” says one scrawl. Another is hopeful “the Games are a disaster”. “No to Games” reads one peremptory message.

It is not clear which group or individual is responsible, but the writing on the wall scripts the same theme, along one of the capital’s busiest and posh thoroughfares.

Targeting sports events is not a novelty though New Delhi has not staged a major sports event since the 1982 Asian Games.

As the capital spends around 15 billion rupees to spruce up for the games there are questions on how it tackles what many see as a rush to redress perpetual eyesores from bad driving to beggars at traffic lights.

Is digging up pavements in the Lutyens zone, probably the best looking part of New Delhi, and rebuilding them a good use of resources?

The Commonwealth Games are being seen as New Delhi’s chance to showcase itself as a global city to the 100,000 visitors the city expects to host.

China’s Beijing Olympics were enviously watched here even as the sports minister said last year that India is too poor to bid for hosting the Olympics.

He may have a point.

Though one cannot argue that no expenditure is justifiable till poverty is eliminated but it needs to be askedINDIA/LABOUR if the infrastructure boom in the run-up to the Games isn’t middle-class centric?

Flyovers may help the cars zip by, but affordable public transport like buses which use up less space and are less polluting haven’t seen much expenditure come their way.

Poverty and consumerism stand cheek by jowl in India’s booming economy which has also resulted in increasing inequalities.

Is the way money is being spent on the Games a further reflection of things getting skewed against the poor?

Does the graffiti draw attention to something other than itself?
(Photos: A commuter walks past the New Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 mascot in New Delhi October 3, 2009. REUTERS/Files and Homeless children sit amid debris in a demolished slum cluster in New Delhi December 12, 2006. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)


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I wonder how using concrete justifies beautification? If they had to, the PWD and other civic organisations involved in sprucing up the city for the CWG could have done by just cleaning it and planting more trees, which the city really is in dire need of. Instead, they are busy removing truck loads of trees, all in the name of “renovation.” The area around the President’s estate has been ruined, it now looks worse than the Maha Maya concrete jungle aka “park”. The Games are for no one. It is a means to waste our hard-earned tax payers’ money on things we might never need or care for! Would I care if pavement all over the city suddenly got a thousand new bricks. Not really. I would rather have a thousand trees instead.

Posted by gogunners | Report as abusive

One understands where these people are coming from, but sometimes their arguments get taken to levels that are not really logical to my mind. There is no society or system, where there is no inequality. Of course the expenditure and all the infrastructure being conducted is middle class centric, what is wrong in that? Delhi is a city, where the middle class is pre dominant. Does that nullify the need for infrastructure in a city that helps ease the traffic woes of the middle class tax payer? Are they to be simply cast aside and nothing be done for their welfare till there are no poor left in this country? Will we become a country where everything must be either for the political class or that politically correct term, the aam aadmi? I want to shout “Hey what about poor old me? I am a commoner too.”

Somehow it seems we have been brain washed into thinking that if something is done for the tax payer or the middle class and not specifically for the marginalised, then we are exploiting and short changing them. I find that line of reasoning difficult to comprehend.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

CWG 2010 puts the worlds largest democracy to test.A test of the states’ ability to exceed expectations.This years CWG could define sporting events in South Asia.A cricket crazy nation,could welcome other sporting events,which could add more relief by encouraging education and emphasising on job creation in the sports sector.Idia has hosted many events in the past,and it has managed to put up an average to decent show.

May be this event,if executed flawlessly,could define Indias’ ambition of being an emerging super economy.It would test India’s solidarity,capability of exhibiting superior hospitality skills,efficiency – the factors necessary to being an effective host.May be this would be the turn of events ,into transforming this emerging economy into a preferred destination for foreign investment-obviously,by beating China.

Posted by LoudMutters | Report as abusive

As I’ve argued in detail elsewhere, the games are definitely being used as an excuse to prioritize things favoured by the upper middle classes: transportation other and projects that look good to outsiders.

When have you heard a water project justified in the name of the games? (The Commonwealth Games Village strives to conserve water, but that is for publicity only; if water conservation were a concern, why would it be build on the environmentally sensitive flood plain of the Yamuna?) Tourists and athletes won’t be waiting in line at a public tap or swimming in our rivers, of course, so they are unlikely to notice that nearly half of the sewage in Delhi goes untreated into the Yamuna–and we waste nearly half of the clean water we do get due to crumbling infrastructure.

As for housing for poor people, we are simply trying to remove the poor people! We crack down on beggars, but we allow public contractors to violate minimum wage laws on CWG projects! I could go on, but there’s no need; most people on the street understand this, though they may not write about it in English: the CWG are just an excuse to carry on with unsustainable development for the elite of this otherwise great city!

Posted by haribatti | Report as abusive