Last week, the Organising Committee 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi, had the privilege of hosting the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamlesh Sharma, in its headquarters. I was moved when he pointed out that even if one had a theoretical view that planning and hosting the Commonwealth Games could be very complex, it is only when one visits a place where things are being done that one is hit by the magnitude of the task.
Let me share one such enormous task that has already achieved much without many being aware of it — perhaps because it is being done in lands that are far removed from India. I am speaking of the Queen’s Baton Relay 2010 Delhi that has covered as many as 84,013km in 155 days since it was launched. It has been a wonderful messenger for the Games, for Delhi and for India, as it has made its way through Europe, Africa and is now in the Americas. It has been a matter of pride for us that the Baton’s journey so far has come through with clockwork precision, keeping its dates with cross sections of societies — from leaders of state to the common people, from sporting legends to aspiring stars.
We are looking forward to it completing the rest of the 170,000km in international sectors as smoothly. And, also to the number of road shows of the Commonwealth Business Club of India, set up along with FICCI and CII, that we have planned to coincide with the Queen’s Baton Relay. We have already had good success in the road shows that have already been held in Europe and Africa. It will all lead up to a huge event that will let businesses from around the world interact with India during the Games.
There are nearly three months left before the Baton arrives in India on June 25 at the Wagah Border, but we have already made intricate plans for its 100-day journey here.
It is an amazing operation that has taken countless hours of behind the scenes work by our team that is handling the Baton Relay. The minutest details have been looked into as we have finalised the route and are sewing up how each of the 28 States and seven Union Territories of our diverse nation will showcase its own champions besides highlighting its rich cultural legacy beyond its own boundaries.
Consider this: For much of the 20,000km through more than 100 cities and towns and thousands of villages in India, the Baton will be in a convoy of 26 purpose-built and branded vehicles with crew that includes as many as 88 people. All this is the result of a series of meetings with the governments of each State and Union Territory, the State Olympic Associations, defence services, police and personalities from cultural and educational fields. The amount of work that has already been turned in to ensure that the planning is perfect and the execution remarkable is amazing and will make for a great lesson in management and at once enhance the presence of Olympic sport in India’s collective consciousness.
Believe me, while it has been a huge logistical challenge that we have loved facing, the Baton Relay will be a wonderful curtain-raiser to the Games, something that Team India — comprising the Govt of India and Delhi, the IOA, the Commonwealth Games Federation and the OC — is confident of hosting on a grand scale, surpassing the expectations of many.
Believe me, we will do it.