Commonwealth Games in Delhi have inspired not just reams of reportage but also a bevy of books that detail everything from the history of the Games to how they are turning out to be a disaster.
The latest among the growing corpus of books on the Games is Sellotape Legacy, Delhi & Commonwealth Games, a book that raises several disturbing questions about the Games. The main point of the book: The Delhi Games are basically about the politics of development, and the pretensions of a rising India that wants to use sports to show off its economic power at a cost of about Rs 66,000 crore.
Ask Nalin Mehta, the co-author, and he tells you, “Sometime around the Beijing Olympics, I was in an auto one day and talking about the Games when the auto driver got angry, shouting how it was a sham and how the money was being spent for just 12 days. His passion jolted us into thinking about the real meaning of these Games,” says Mehta, an honorary fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.
The book’s title, Sellotape Legacy, is prophetic in that it captures the mess the Delhi Games are in. Mehta foresaw it. “It was on the cards, based on what we saw. Part of the problem was the lack of expertise within the OC for organising such an event.”
The book says Delhi’s current ruling elites saw the Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to refashion Delhi into a global city — and ‘a shining beacon of India’s global power play’. But has Delhi really done that? “The city had a fantastic opportunity to redesign itself through these Games. Other cities such as Kuala Lumpur have done this in the past. But because of shoddy implementation, all those grandiose plans have gone into the dustbin. Now we are simply putting sellotape over the cracks,” says Mehta.
Another book on the Games that came out recently is: Road to Commonwealth Games 2010 by Sunil Yash Kalra. Released last week, the book, says the author, is a tribute to the Games. “Unlike other books that are either trivia-based or laced with a heavy dose of commentary, my book is an unbiased assessment of the overall impact of the games,” says Kalra, a sports documentary filmmaker. Kalra’s book says brand India will be the biggest beneficiary of the Games.
Kalra who started work on the book in 2007, says it was not easy writing the book as the deadlines and goalposts kept changing. “I had to rewrite and update very often. One official would say something; the other would contradict him,” he says.