The 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) is slowly becoming a game of smoke and mirrors — and Delhi, a Potemkin village. Like the 18th century Russian minister who tried to fool Empress Catherine II by building fake settlements along the banks of the Dnieper, CWG officials are now planning to put up a similar show of delusion along the banks of Yamuna for the October guests: a clean, green and functioning Delhi. In an ingenious move, the government has decided to ‘hide’ things they don’t want the guests to see: beggars will be rounded up and hidden inside parks till the Games are over. The parks will then be wrapped with “slick banners, logos and the Games mascot”. Hopefully, they will have some sense not to put those flashy ‘Incredible !ndia!’ posters around the park walls. Incredible, indeed!
This not all: during an accent test for police personnel who will man the command and control centre and will be the face of the Delhi Police, policemen with ‘regional’ accents were weeded out. So now junk that old ‘diversity is our strength’ mantra and forget that Delhi itself is a potpourri of people from different states: just be like them. Probably, our senior officials are unaware that not all Commonwealth team members or even the foreign spectators speak Queen’s English and it is a game for the old colonies, not the island only.
In this drive to beautify Delhi and make the city ‘world class’ (thankfully, they have not benchmarked the city against some other capital), one wonders who will go next. Surely, not the unfinished stadiums and debris. Will someone with a magic wand come and finish them before we can say, “Common…”? But the good thing is that all this tamasha is only for 12 days, after that we will be back to our good old ways. Not much can keep us down, or hidden for that matter.