Thursday, May 26, 2011

More lessons from the Commonwealth Games

Locking up Suresh Kalmadi may be satisfying, but it doesn't fix what was wrong with the CWG

Former Commonwealth Game Head Suresh Kalmadi has spent a lot of time in jail lately.. It's tempting to think that justice is finally being done. And maybe it is--to a degree. After all, corruption was one of the things that we all complained about during the CWG.  It's good to see some kind of action being taken, even if it is after the fact.

But before we revise our thinking about the CWG to something like 'all's well that ends well,'  we should take a walk through CP. It's a mess because the work wasn't properly done  and now those streets need to be dug up so the job can be finished.  

CP reminds us that the corruption we saw during the CWG was not just about expensive rolls of toilet paper; it was about infrastructure that wasn't built right. Most of those problems won't surface for years.

Take a walk along your local nallah, drink unfiltered DJB water for a week, or visit your local government school, and you'll be reminded that the CWG was also about missed opportunities. We have a lot of new flyovers and stadiums in Delhi. But millions of Delhi residents still don't get reliable, safe drinking water. We may be covering a few more drains, but the water running through them and into the Yamuna is still poisonous. We can't enforce child labour laws effectively, and middle class residents continue to avoid sending their children to government schools. 

Fixing our water delivery system, cleaning our river, taking care of our children properly would all take crores and crores of rupees--some things just cost money. We chose not to do those things so that we could have a World Class Sporting Event. In and of itself, that choice was not literally corrupt, but it was unethical, and it will cost us dearly in the long run. Let's hope we don't make the same mistake again.

For more on this, read our CWG page.


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