If you’re like me, you may have heard the phrase ‘Commonwealth Games’ being thrown about these past few weeks. If you’re like that guy on TV who gets worked up and shouts a lot, you probably know everything there is to know on this subject, and have extremely strong views on it.
Chances are, most of you are somewhere in-between; you know something bad happened, and everyone’s blaming everyone, but you missed the details. Fortunately for you, I spent the last twenty minutes Googling the issue, so I’ll put it all in a nutshell.
We dropped the ball (a sports analogy seemed fitting). We made a bid to host the games way back in 2003, and have been diligently doing as little as possible to deliver the goods. The story is one familiar to all of us: bureaucratic hassles, disinterested government officials, sub-par results, and lots of blame being thrown around.I say this story is familiar because it crops up all the time, not just during the preparations for an international sporting event being held in India for the first time. From healthcare and education to basic infrastructure and governance, the fact which we must all accept is that our government doesn’t give much of a damn about us.
If you cast your mind back over the years, you’ll notice something interesting: the major leaps of progress we’ve made have been in spite of the government, not because of them. For example, if you want to set up a company that links the entire nation using cellular phones, do you think things would go smoothly? Or would you have to bribe officials at every level of the government in each and every state? Why do you think massive roads like the one linking Bombay and Pune, or even the famous Sealink took forever to build? Because they were built by private companies, who had to deal with miles and miles of red tape and interference.
To cut a long story short, we’re on our own. You’re interested in higher studies? Travel abroad, go to college in the US, the UK, or Australia (My views on the Indian education system are bleak to say the least… but more on that another time). You play sports? It better be cricket, my friend, because if it isn’t… well, there’s really no kind of infrastructure to nurture talent in this country.
Just take a look at the fine way we treat our national hockey team, football team, or even our Olympic winners. No, we are most certainly on our own. If we want anything, we’re going to have to make it for ourselves, and fight insurmountable odds to do so.
I’ve spoken a lot about our responsibility as citizens of this country, but I’ve never really touched on the responsibility of those who govern us. And as I think about it, I realise why that is — I gave up on them ages ago. I don’t think it’s a cynical point of view. I think it’s a realistic one. I honestly expect nothing different. I expect apathy, corruption, ineptitude and an almost willful attempt to hold our nation back. And they have never disappointed me yet.