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Commonwealth Games, fame or shame?

The Indian diaspora are feeling all the more anxious as October 3rd closes in: some feel the Commonwealth Games will be mega-success while others are sticking to the doubts. Patriotism levels, however, are on an all-time high.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2010 16:29 IST

If you asked a London-based Indian software developer his biggest concerns about India three years ago it'd probably be terrorism, population or corruption. However, today it's not just Ms Dikshit losing sleep over the Commonwealth Games preps - Indians all over the world, inside as well as outside the country are in awe of what lies ahead.

As the images of a broken footbridge, soiled toilets and broken panes in the Games Village began to filter through the national and international broadcast media last week our first reaction was "Really? If the world-class T3 at IGI is so outstanding, how could they go wrong with the Games Village?" Then came the news about athletes beginning to pull out, some not intending to stay at the Village until its "habitable", England putting pressure on Indian Authorities to "mop-up", and finally some happy and satisfactory contenders at least trying to do the country a favour by staying in. After a dubious snake whose nationality couldn't be established, a few teething problems with water supplies in rooms and more athletes mulling over attendance in case they contract fatal diseases, it feels like sitting all alone in the middle of an open stadium and being pelted at with stones. One brick comes right at the forehead as Mr Mike Hooper comments on the nation's population problem - a remark rightly termed pretty "unkind".

Time to switch off the wretched idiot-box and check out the Commonwealth Games page on Facebook. Lots of heated debates, rock-solid opinions and some outstanding images of the Games Village. Thanks to my intensive browsing session I land on the Welsh team's page who have, only two hours ago, posted some stunning images of their rooms as well as the views from the windows. Can someone help the BBC access these?

Truly (read foolishly) convinced that when the English and Scottish athletes land on Delhi's new terminal there will be extensive coverage and reporting by the international press about the new architecture. Nothing. Somehow I thought that's pretty obvious.

Taxi to work next morning and the local radio station is unstoppably moaning about how security concerns in Delhi have shattered the dreams of a young athlete who is unable to attend the city that is a host of "deadly fatal diseases". Arrive at work to answer the inevitable question: "What have you done to the Commonwealth Games?"!!

The nation had the potential to generate excellence by using the Games as a global opportunity, and maybe it even did, but immensely failed to publicise that potential.

So is it a mere Public Relations disaster for Delhi? "The media handling of CWG is nothing more than a storm in a teacup. However, India, and Delhi in particular, haven't been successful in making full use of an excellent PR opportunity that, for instance, Greenwich or East London have totally exploited for the 2012 Olympics. If we can still pull off a super-successful event it'd be money worth spent," says Dr Ankit Jain, Specialist Oncology Registrar working for St. James University Hospital in Leeds.


Rakesh Rawal, Founder of +91 Europe, a global network of top Indian entrepreneurs says: "It's often the case, that when a high profile sports event is awarded to an emerging country, there are always concerns about organisation and safety. But it really depends on the media how much and what they wish to publicise. I very much hope that India stages wonderful games and takes this opportunity to showcase the country. I am confident that the warmth, friendliness and legendary hospitality of Indians will leave a lasting impression on visitors. When the games have finished, then this will be the right time to evaluate how large scale public sector projects can be organised more efficiently and delivered on time."

Dr Joji Joseph, Consultant Oncologist, working for NHS UK feels that it's a great shame that India hasn't fully exploited this opportunity. "CWG was the perfect platform to project our status as an emerging powerhouse and showcase our abilities and potential. I fervently hope that the Games will be a success and provide a shot in the arm for sports in India."

"Locally, the hosting of the CWG has created great job opportunities for several thousands of people and the infrastructure created will leapfrog the advancement of Indian sporting achievements for years to come. Sporting events bring the entire country together and deserve to be the pride generating event they are. I lived in China at a time when they were preparing for the 2008 Olympics village, whilst delivering the project complete at enormous overspill of costs amongst uprooting several communities! The media isn't doing justice to the athletes that are at CWG Village and the thousands of local businesses and personnel who are making the Games happen, says Bijal Thakore from Vadodara, who lives in London and is the CEO and Founder of engineering consultancy firm Big On Good Solutions.

Some argue if we should even be calling ourselves a Commonwealth nation. A Commonwealth Country is "an association comprising the United Kingdom, its dependencies, and many former British colonies that are now sovereign states with a common allegiance to the British Crown, including Canada, Australia, India, and many countries in the West Indies and Africa. It was formally established by the Statute of Westminster in 1931." Now that's debatable and I, at the moment, am only concerned about the Games doing well and feeling proud as always of a nation that's host to the concept of Unity in Diversity.

Aakriti Kaushik is global PR manager for electronics distributor Premier Farnell. You can reach her atkaushik.aakriti@gmail.com

Views expressed in this article are personal.