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Delhi Games, the big disconnect

columns Updated: Aug 25, 2010 18:33 IST
Pradeep Magazine

The every day scene in government-run sports complexes, where a majority of Delhi's young and old congregate morning and evening to expend their physical energy and indulge in a harmless activity called sports, is one of joyous camaraderie.

For the old, it is their best passport to forget the cares of the world and display amateur exuberance on the sports field, whose benefits cannot be evaluated in material tangibles so important for the aspiring young.

For those who are just about beginning to identify the world around them, it is a place where they are taking their first steps in learning how to hold a racquet or a bat and how to hit the ball with a correct follow through and a proper swing.

These complexes built by the DDA, are run professionally, efficiently and are the few places in Delhi where one can play without having to dole out huge sums of money.

While Delhi at the moment is swirling in a sea of corruption allegations, be it against the Commonwealth Games' organisers or those who have built mega stadiums for the 15-day event, people playing at these complexes were last week anticipating a problem, which was threatening to put a stop to their most cherished hobby.

They had heard that these complexes would be closed down for two months in preparation for the Games. There was disbelief, shock and even anger in their voices as they hurled the choicest of abuses on those who were going to take away from them their only source of pure, unadulterated entertainment.

Already furious at the stories of large-scale corruption and the inefficiency of the organisers, they were still willing to forgive and forget as long as it did not interfere with their own pastime.

The Commonwealth Games, because they were told is a matter of national pride, was an important event for them, though there is no real enthusiasm for the Games in the absence of any known, popular international stars coming for the event.

This disconnect has now turned into rage (those who play everyday will understand this better), especially at those complexes which have been closed down for its members and the public. They would rather not have the Commonwealth Games, which they in any case see as a loot of the exchequer, than have their own sporting activity stopped for such a long period.

I have highlighted this issue at length only to show that there is a huge disconnect between those who project these Games as an event on which rides our national pride, and those who live in the city facing unbearable traffic problems, rising prices made worse due to rising taxes. And now even those who care for sports are seething with anger.

They are willing to believe any story of corruption in the Games, even if some of them may not be true, as there is a huge gap in perception of those who control the levers of power and money to showcase India to the world, and those whose immediate concerns of living are not being cared for.