The (un)commonwealth gains

Posted: August 8, 2010 in Sports
Tags: , , ,

Sometime in the late 1980s the owner of the paper I worked with, said something that has stuck in my head ever since. His managers were showing him the new office we would soon be moving into. The building belonged to him and the interiors were being done up to accommodate a newspaper office.

One of the managers, while showing him the panelling, electrical fittings and wiring, complained that the contractor was making money. The owner asked whether the contractor was doing sub-standard work and was told that it wasn’t the case. His reply: If he’s doing a good job, let him take his cut! What he actually said was, “Itne bade samudra se agar koi do lota paani nikkal le, to kya farak pdta hai.”

I guess the Commonwealth Games or for that matter any international event, always faces similar issues. Don’t get me wrong. I am neither endorsing the Commonwealth Games nor the corruption scandals that are being unearthed every day. To get screwed for almost Rs 35,000-50,000 crore (if a news magazine is to be believed) by corrupt officials and politicians, for organising an event of no consequence, is a colossal wastage of public money and a matter for the CBI and chartered accountants – post the event.

In normal circumstances any sports event that is organised anywhere in the world is done with the intention of making money. Unfortunately in India, with the exception of cricket, any event staged is done more to promote certain individuals or sports bodies rather than making money or promoting talent.

The other issue (again this is my personal view) is the man himself – Indian Olympic Association Chief, Suresh Kalmadi. He evokes extreme views. There are some who swear by his organisational abilities and there are others who believe he rides roughshod over dissent and has little patience for people who don’t see eye to eye with him. He comes across as abrasive, bordering on the rude. A lot of people (read politicians) don’t like to be dismissed in a manner Kalmadi usually reserves for people who, he believes, are interfering with his ‘mission’ – be it the BRTS, the Commonwealth Youth Games or now the Commonwealth Games itself.

The man obviously sees for himself a bigger role in the scheme of things – like becoming the IOC chief sometime in the future. And there’s no better platform than the Commonwealth Games to make that point. Then there is also the fact that Kalmadi is a Congressman, so there is no dearth of people of all hues and political affiliations taking pot shots at him. Criticism from the media or sportspersons is understandable to a certain extent, but when it comes from politicians – some of who have no connection to sport – it does make one wonder whether there’s more to it than meets the eye.

But having said all this, now that we are into this neck deep, let’s get on with the Games. It would be a terrible loss of face for the country if it were to be called off now. We can calculate the costs; deal with all the corruption, nepotism, politicking and mudslinging later. Whether the system is competent enough to deal with it, is an issue the people need to debate and force the government’s hand if they find investigations being sidetracked. But that is our problem and not that of the rest of the world. Why should we wash our dirty linen in public? What are we telling the world? That we are a country of pimps, freeloaders, shady businessmen, crooked politicians and greedy officials who are in it together to screw the country.

Personally, I think those issues can wait, till we get this damn thing over with.

  1. Suhas Patil says:

    “What are we telling the world? That we are a country of pimps, freeloaders, shady businessmen, crooked politicians and greedy officials who are in it together to screw the country.”

    If we are not this, then what are we?

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