They are the lifeline of any games. They render their services for free. And they are the building blocks on which every organising committee builds its reputation.
But the volunteers for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi are, perhaps, children of lesser gods. Or else, how does one explain the hardships — and humiliation — they are being made to endure everyday by Games officials.
Little wonder then, that the organisers are dangerously falling short of volunteers. According to a source in the OC, the organisers initially had a demand for 30,000 volunteers, which was reduced to 22,000. But now they are finding it difficult to even muster that many.
But little do they realise, they are in for hard times the moment they register. The grind begins once they reach the venue to collect their kit, worth around Rs 5,000, and accreditation cards.
Most of the volunteers HT spoke to had been given incomplete kits and asked to come back again, without specifying the time or the date.
Deepak Kumar and Shree Shankar, NCC cadets, when asked to tell their story said, “We couldn't get through in the selection process, so we filled the form on-line and were promptly called by the OC.”
But their woes started the day they visited the venue. “The first time we came here with our registration numbers, they sent us back saying that they would call us later. After a lot of running around, we finally got the kit.”
Pankaj, who hails from Sonepat, well outside Delhi, says, “I started at 11 in the morning. Now, the organisers say they don't have my data. This is bulls**t.” The dejected student says, “I can't take this. I am not coming back anymore. Even my friends are furious and have vowed not to come back.”
Another NCC cadet, Garjan, said, “I got two messages from the organisers. It had my registration number and password through which I could check the status, but the thing would just not open. This is the second time I am coming from Ghaziabad. They neither pay us nor give us any travel allowance, and then they make us endure this torture. Why?”
A group of NCC girls were clueless about their kits. “Our college administration asked us to go to the Pragati Maidan hall No. 7, but officials say we'll get our accreditation and kits in Delhi Cantt. This is not done,” said one of the girls.
DG, NCC, Lt Gen RK Kariwal, refused to comment, while NP Singh, the workforce head at OC, could not be reached.
Note: There’s no idea as to how many volunteers have been confirmed.