Posts Tagged ‘Commonwealth Games’


I guess fate has a strange way of turning you away from something when it knows it’s going against your conscience. At least mine did. Election Day is the best day for this conscience thing to show its true colours. Do I vote for the candidate who I think is most eligible or the party which the rest of the country, my wife and son believe is going to sweep the polls? That is what went through my mind as I stepped into the polling booth.

When I left home my wife warned me to vote for the candidate who her entire family was supposedly voting for, in the Lok Sabha constituency. She couldn’t vote because despite all her efforts the EC refused to register her as a voter along with me – or so she thought!

I looked up the list of candidates on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), when I was in the polling booth. Flustered, I looked down the list, then I looked up, and down again. I couldn’t find the bugger’s name anywhere. Then I looked for the party symbol and couldn’t find that either. By then I was grinning and the lady sitting across the booth was staring at me suspiciously. My eyes then went to the top of the EVM, read the name of the constituency and I almost burst out laughing. THIS WAS NOT THE CONSTITUENCY I HAD BEEN VOTING FROM FOR THE PAST SO MANY TERMS!!

The Election Commission had moved me and (I am sure) quite a few others to another constituency and I hadn’t a frigging idea who the contestants were initially. Then I read the names carefully, and decided I might as well follow my conscience. I pressed the button for the party instead of the candidate and walked away, satisfied that I had voted as per my conscience and not because people were hounding me to do so for someone!

I, then, tweeted my experience about the change in constituency and imagine my shock, when a former colleague from the newspaper I worked with until recently, called to say that he read my tweet and did some investigating, only to find that I was registered as a voter in my old constituency as well. I asked him to check if my wife was a voter there and he said she was. So she rushed off to vote for the candidate of her choice from a constituency where she longer resided! So we are happy that we both voted for a party of our choice!

What I noticed was the sparse number of voters at both places. That is surprising considering all the hoopla about the so called wave. Closing voting figures show a little above 54vper cent polling in the city, which is quite dismal. I guess, Punekars deserve the crap they get from the politicians. There’s no point moaning about the terrible infrastructure, crappy transport system haphazard constructions, water supply etc etc if we don’t tell politicians on the one day that we get, that non-performers won’t get a second chance.

All this also makes me think why the Election Commission can’t do efficiently, the one job they are supposed to do, every five years. As the screen shots will show, I seem to have two fathers!

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I don’t know what mother would have had to say to this, had she been alive today. I am sure it would have been something very sarcastic. And all I asked for was a change of address in my voter details!

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Someone informed me on twitter that a friend of his applied for Voter ID Card 6 times – he now has 12 cards that cannot be cancelled. And another student said she had been married off! Thank God we don’t have elections every four years. Otherwise the Election Commission might find me another family and a new identity!

The last time, I remember voting for Suresh Kalmadi because I thought he would do something for the city. He did in the initial years. Then he gave Pune something called the BRTS which made worse the already messed up transport system in the city and then gave the nation the Commonwealth Games that messed up his political career. So I’ve always felt that Kalmadi betrayed the trust we imposed in him. This time I guess if things end up in a mess, I won’t have a guilty conscience because I have nothing to do with the constituency I have been shoved into!

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Now that Suresh Kalmadi’s goose is all but cooked, here’s a question I would like to ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sports Minister MS Gill. What were they doing talking through their respective butts these past few years, when they should have been getting off it and getting the job done? Why didn’t they stop Kalmadi from spreading the ‘Wealth’ around when they had the time and the authority? I guess the inclination was missing.

You can blame Kalmadi all you want for this Commonwealth Games disaster, but is he alone responsible? Shouldn’t this have been the direct responsibility of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his various ministries? After all, this entire exercise involves a lot of government departments not just one, so why did they all sit back and allow one man to run riot?

This isn’t the Pune Festival we are talking about, where there are bullock cart races organised in the suburbs. This is the Commonwealth Games where so many countries of the world would be participating – even if they were mostly a bunch of second-rung athletes from a lot of inconsequential countries who were coming along for the ride.

Why did the Prime Minister wait till two months before the CWG to kick Kalmadi’s ass – figuratively speaking. If the mild-mannered Sardar could have done that literally and liberally, the country wouldn’t be in the mess it is at present. Why I say this is because it is hard to believe that the prime minister was unaware of the fact that Kalmadi and his cohorts were engaging in large-scale corruption. When the rest of the country knew it, how is it that he didn’t? He is either totally incompetent or couldn’t care less. If anyone should take moral responsibility for this gargantuan disaster it is the Prime Minister.

And then there are enough powerful politicians with an axe to grind with Kalmadi, ready to jump on the anti-CWG bandwagon. I am sure they’re all sitting back and chortling at the disgraceful events that are unfolding in Delhi at present. That politics was being played out over the Games was obvious to anyone who understood an iota about politics and political happenings. This entire exercise was one of Congress+Kalmadi versus the Rest and the Rest was winning from Day One, because an inept government with an ineffectual leader allowed things to go adrift.

Strangely enough the media has been writing and speaking about all that was wrong with the organisation of the Commonwealth Games from the beginning. So how is it that the government didn’t think it was worth acting upon? And tragically this has been the case with every political event in the country. There is a tendency to let things drift until it reaches a point of no return. While that says a lot about the country’s politicians, it also speaks a lot about the so-called power of the media!

There is a lesson in this for all those who believe that it is always the media’s job to “do something.” What were the people doing when this charade was being played out over all these years? Did we (and I include myself) file a public interest litigation against Kalmadi or the IOA or did they launch a campaign which would force the government to step in. The answer is a big NO. So let’s not rage against the system that we are a part of and have done nothing to change.

We know that once the Games are over (assuming that they will be held), there will be a massive cover up. Kalmadi will obviously be the fall guy and face a temporary banishment. Everyone will congratulate each other for ‘punishing’ the guilty and things then will return to normal. This is how things have turned out on every occasion earlier – be it in sports or politics. What’s the guarantee it won’t happen again? Can you blame the citizen for becoming a cynic?

A student of mine asked me earlier whether we should just sit back and accept it when we know the country is being screwed by the politicians. We can vote out the corrupt or turn to the judiciary. We can cast our vote every few years and hope that the man or woman we send to Delhi will make our lives better. But even then there is no guarantee, because we aren’t really sure that the person we choose to represent us will ensure for us a better life.

And then there is the judiciary, which we always thought would come to the rescue of the common man. But look at what happened in a northern state. The Chief Justice met the Chief Minister and soon after the judge looking into corruption cases against her is divested off the case! Then some former law minister says that more than half of the judges are corrupt. So who do you turn to?


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.