The run-up to the Commonwealth Games has brought into focus both our inadequacies regarding the preparations and the enormous corruption involved. Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi have finally intervened and seem determined to hold the Games and punish the guilty after it is over. So, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Central Bureau of Investigation and other agencies must start investigations now.
However, the damage to India’s image is done. The world has witnessed the shoddy manner in which we have gone about things. It is unfair to blame Suresh Kalmadi alone for the fiasco. The bigger scam is in the construction and the so-called beautification of Delhi by both the Centre and the Delhi government and its allied agencies. Thousands of crores have been reportedly spent on projects which seem to have missed their deadlines and were cleared at double or many times the cost of similar ones earlier.
In fact, the uglification of the city, as it should be termed, has left every Delhiite fuming. There can be no justification for digging up streets and undertaking substandard work. The roads are full of potholes and motorists pay the price daily. Every portion where sewage pipes have been laid has either sunk or is in a total mess. One wonders what kind of supervision went into creating this muddle. There is a question that every Indian needs to ask himself honestly. Are we really equipped to carry out world-class events given our propensity for corruption and shoddy work? Should we try to make Delhi look like London, Paris or Singapore or any other top city knowing that this cannot happen? Would we not have been better off had we allowed Delhi to remain Delhi and held the Games without creating this confusion? The arguments that one part has been developed by Delhi Development Authority or this by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi or some other by New Delhi Municipal Corporation or the Public Works Department are unconvincing. During elections, why do Congress leaders take credit for something like the Metro that is not within the ambit of its government in the city?
Another argument that we should allow the Games to be held is downright silly. Who is preventing them from being held? It is just that the preparations are not complete. While Suresh Kalmadi may have a lot of answering to do as far as the role of the Organising Committee is concerned, Manohar Singh Gill, Sheila Dikshit and Jaipal Reddy, besides a battery of bureaucrats, will also have a tough time answering queries if and when a probe is held into the major scams.
No one seems to be accountable as of now and even though the bureaucracy and some ministers have been entrusted with the task, there is no option left but to keep one’s fingers crossed. The comparison of the preparations to that of an Indian wedding are stupid. One can only hope that the stadiums built at a huge cost do not later become venues for film star nights and political conventions but are used by our sportspersons.
There are lessons to be learnt from this blunder. India, in its present indecisive phase, should not volunteer to host any international events. Instead there should be a more inward-looking policy where we must recognise our limitations and try to remove them first. India can become a world player only if the quality of what we do is of international standard. More important, the honesty with which we do it is paramount. Between us.