Judgement day looms for Kalmadi

September 16, 2010

The reckoning has come for Suresh Kalmadi, the head of the Commonwealth Games in India.

Leading members of the press around various Commonwealth Games venues on a tour on Thursday, Kalmadi appeared unable to see, or hear, the construction work going on around him as he talked of “100% complete” stadia and accommodation.Labourers work at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Complex, one of the venues for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in New Delhi September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

Much has been made of the comparison between the upcoming event and a traditional Indian wedding, in which the chaos of preparation transforms into a glorious spectacle at the last minute. The problem is that Kalmadi and his committee are running out of last minutes.

“India is the flavour of the month. The Games will be a success. All the negative publicity will stop when the event is a success,” Kalmadi told reporters when pressed about the deluge of negative media coverage that has dogged the event’s preparation.

Assuming success, Kalmadi is right. But with the opening ceremony only 17 days away, and with the hammering and drilling clear for all – except him to see – he should be getting nervous.

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I was told that some TV news channel India had it bang on a few days ago when the reporter and cameraman caught up with a contractor in charge of a swimming stadium in Delhi. His men were fixing tiles on the floor and walls were still bare. And it was pretty obvious to anyone who cared that this was not the job that could be finished in 17 days or this was not the guy who could deliver the job anyway.
When asked how was he going to finish the job he had the same Indian wedding answer. “Besides”, he said, “We could have done the job in time had it not been for the rains last few days”. The reporter answered “What you are trying to say here sounds like the school boy who did not read a thing through the whole year and said he failed because there was no electricity the night before the examination date.”

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