A labourer stands in front of boards advertising the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi September 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mansi ThapliyalThere are two reports today that say everything about the fiasco of the Commonwealth Games. On the one hand, while Delhi government cleaners are apparently refusing to clean the toilets at the Games village because they were so “nauseating”, the Games organisers are calling in the help of some luxury private hotels, including the Taj and Oberoi, to help with hygiene.

There you have it. After nearly four years in India, most of the positive headlines I have read have come from the can-do attitude of Indian business or the energy of non-government grassroots organisations. The negative has mostly come from rafts of stories of the Indian state – the skimming of billions of dollars, the failure of basic health and education services.

For all the criticism that is being levelled at India, the most unfair somehow is that this country cannot organise events to the standard of the globalised 21st century. False. Just look at how one businessman, Lalit Modi, set up the Indian Premier League (IPL), which revolutionised cricket with its 20-over format and imported cheerleaders. After security concerns in
2008, organisers moved the IPL — in many ways more complex than the Games because it takes place over nearly two months in different cities — to South Africa within weeks, a huge feat of logistics.

While Modi is now being investigated now for irregularities, the fact is that many Indian executives would probably be happy to organise an event like the Commonwealth Games, just as they have been adventurous enough to extend their global reach to buy up firms like Jaguar or stakes in Hollywood. They must be shaking their heads in frustration when the international media focuses on one organising official who says the problem about the Games village is that foreigners do not realise that India and the West have different standards of hygiene.

The problem is more lack of entrepreneurial prowess. The Commonwealth Games need infusing with India’s Bangalore and Hyderabad IT spirit. Next time around, perhaps we should privatise the Games.