Put out the welcome mat | india | Hindustan Times
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Put out the welcome mat

With the Games only a week away, it’s time for us to put our best foot forward.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2010 21:42 IST

The tidal wave of anger, despair and shame that has engulfed us for the past few months seems to be ebbing at last. While there is still many a slip between the preparations and completion of the controversial Commonwealth Games (CWG), we now have the hope that we will be able to pull it off, though with no claim to this being anywhere near the best CWG ever. None of this takes anything away from the colossal collapse of our hopes of projecting ourselves as a nation capable of miracles like our economic growth. Rather, if it goes halfway smoothly, it will be attributed to our legendary ability at jugaad. This is nothing to be proud of. We can only hope now that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has told the authorities concerned to just get the work done, some form of damage containment can begin.

It will take some doing to erase the ugly manner in which the whole exercise was undertaken, but as one of our readers put it perceptively, it is time to focus on what the people, not the officials, can offer to those who will come to see the Games, and hopefully, a bit of India. An event of this kind should have been held in a carnival-like atmosphere. This is unlikely given the levels of security that will be involved. In addition, many people will give it a wide berth after all the unpleasantness of the past few months. But, as Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has said, now that Delhi has got many more amenities, it would not hurt to try and make the stay for visitors that much more enjoyable and smooth. For this, it is not necessary to wipe away, temporarily, the existence of the poor by asking many without the proper papers to leave Delhi. This only reinforces negative perceptions about India as a country that does not care. And the practice of commandeering hapless children to attend such events should also be shelved.

Where the police could help is to see that visitors are not harassed or fleeced and that they are able to move about with the minimum of restrictions. Relevant information could be posted in the media regularly and volunteers could also be used for this. Many may say all this is a little too late. But, this should not stop us from trying to salvage the remains of the day. The official CWG anthem may not inspire too many, but if we begin the process of setting things right now, hopefully it will inspire belief that India can be Incredible if it puts its best foot forward.

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