It is clear that the Commonwealth Games have become a "political issue." Why even the Queen of England is reported to be in a "cold fury" over the scandal! It is not surprising that opposition parties from the left and the right are doing their best to inflict damage on the government for the corruption and incompetence it tolerated and/or encouraged. With the news coming that the NDMC has given up even trying to complete work at CP in time, and will simply cover up much of it with tonnes of loose earth and pavement until after the Games are over, the noise is bound to get louder.
Of course much of the opposition has its crooked fingers in many other jars of ghee, so it's easy to feel just a little cynical about the outrage we are hearing from some quarters. But let's not forget that this is how democracy is supposed to work; if you are in power and you or your friends allow or participate in evil deeds, then it is the job of the opposition (and the press, of course) to make you pay a price! Without the fear of paying that price, things would almost certainly be a lot worse than they are, which is why even flawed democracy is usually better than dictatorship.
Let's hope Congress has learned this lesson well enough to go after the people responsible for this mess, starting as high up as the rot goes. Resignations and suspensions of members of the CWG Organising Committee are a fine place to start, but more action will undoubtedly be required.
Speaking of lessons learned, I'm glad most people in Delhi are taking a hard look at the Games. But I'm concerned about how many of these conversations go.
What I hear too much of:
- "It's so embarrassing that the whole world is going to see what a messy city Delhi is."
- "It is terrible that my tax money has been wasted on corruption."
- "This was a good idea that was poorly executed."
It's not that these ideas are necessarily wrong. It's just that they lack depth--and they don't do much to move us forward. I'd much rather hear more of this:
- It is shameful that the contractors charged with undertaking World Class projects were not required to pay even minimum wages or to meet minimum labour standards. Haven't you seen all those children of workers spending their days on the side of the road? Why couldn't someone have set up a few mobile creches? And it's criminal that so many workers died as a result of this negligence.
- In a city where so many people lack decent housing and clean water, isn't it terrible that public money that should have been used for the public good was stolen by corrupt officials and contractors? That is the worst kind of theft!
- This was a bad idea from the start because we put false ideas of national pride before things that matter more, like schools, housing, food security and water. The corruption and incompetence only made the situation worse.
Try talking to the people you meet every day about this. Most of these arguments don't require statistics, just common sense, so I didn't include as many hyper links as I usually do. We just need to learn how to frame the issues in a way that leads to more honest and productive results. (If you do want some statistics to back up your arguments, go to our special CWG page. )
And if you want to do something, take a look at ACORN International's Commonwealth Games Campaign. If you are a student, why not work to fight the evictions at Delhi University? And whoever you are, why not write a letter to the editor of your newspaper or your local government official?