Skip to content

Let’s Talk News

March 24, 2010

Finally after a short drought, there is stuff where I fell like talking about.

Let’s start off with this – The Commonwealth Games this October.

There has been much written about how Delhi is prepping itself (or not) for the Games. This one article I found used the phrase “want people to go back with the impression that Delhi is a sophisticated city”. Anyone see the irony in this?

Delhi – the seat of culture once upon a time. Actually, the seat of culture a little more than a 100 years ago. The place where people flocked for culture, for literature and all that. Now, we have to not only educate the people about how to behave like civilized citizens, we are trying to con the rest of the world which has been watching the city since the venue was announced.

What were we thinking when we even made the bid for the venue? Forget the fact that we cannot afford to be splurging like this… did no one think of the little fact that the amount of money that needs to be spent on making the city, and the neighbouring areas presentable is a huge challenge that our corrupt bureaucrats might just not be upto?

One could argue that this is the chance for the city to get a facelift. Really? With the kind of corruption that occurs around here? They’d pocket the money allotted for the development and holiday in Switzerland during the Games when everything here is falling down on the atheletes  heads.

Which brings me to the infrastructure and human rights article on BBC.

The article made me gape a little. It talked about how workers are made to work under “harsh and unsafe conditions without basic amenities from the employers concerned”. Why is this news now? Why is the fact that they are not being paid minimum wages, that deaths at sites aren’t even reported, the workers aren’t insured or trained making news?

Anyone who walked past a construction site in India knows the reality. Anyone who got anything built in India knows reality. Why do people think the Games would change anything? Would the contractors and everyone else involved suddenly develop something called a conscious or some hormone to start to produce sympathy?

The report apparently even talks about how people are not getting overtime pay, which is absolutely unheard of in a lot of companies in India, let alone unskilled labor.

This area is not regulated. And with the games, people just think it is a good way to make more money – which exactly is why we shouldn’t have stepped into this yet.

I am scared that India will end up with an egg on her face. There is too much apathy in this country… and there are basic problems we need to solve first – like electricity. How do we provide 24 hour power to these areas? Oh wait… the people in the neighbouring cities wouldn’t need it at that point.

Or clean water? Or that women will not be harassed. Or the people who come for the Games decide to make it a mini vacation and travel a bit and see all the debris we’ve shoved under the carpet. Yep. That’ll make a fantastic impression for sure.

Song of the day: Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (the ways we try to be charming. *sigh*)

Advertisements
18 Comments leave one →
  1. yaj permalink
    March 29, 2010 7:24 am

    Why this much of negativity about our own capabilities? There is nothing new in your concern ,everybody around knows about it but that does not mean we should hide inside our home and loose hope of any change. Why not to be the part of solution rather than to crip every new initiative our govt. take? why to be always filled with doubt? There are lot of people in India with good civic sense and pure concise like you but they need to come out rather than hiding and always crying foul. Just feel at home and provide a helping hand to make it a better place.Try to inspire people rather than filling them with doubts for any new initiative.It’s ok if your are not hopeful but don’t pass it on to others. You can’t deny that the things are changing in this country but considering our disproportionate population the changes will still take years to get reflected. It’s not a one night job, be a little patient. It’s the time to stand up to the challenge rather than writing ourselves off without even trying a hand. I am not scared that India will end up with an egg on her face because whatever will be the result I will see it as an effort to put a step forward . Try to appreciate the fact that people are working hard out there in belief that they can organize world class games in india despite knowing all the problems you just discussed.
    yaj

    • March 29, 2010 6:31 pm

      Hi Yaj,
      Okay I might have come on a little too harsh. We are making an attempt and that is a good thing. But there are a few people who are truly interested about India’s image in the global scenario. We, a country not really known for sports, have agreed to take on the responsibility of hosting one of the major sports events in the world.
      This has both economical and social ramifications. If we flop, it will be a nightmare to make a comeback.
      Realistically I do understand that everyone cannot be expected to look at the real picture. But it definitely gets damn annoying when the people incharge also refuse to look at the bigger picture and just do things for that one moment. That they simply see this as a chance to make money.
      The entire world will be watching India… like how we watched China during the Olympics. Every policy India has… every aspect will be closely seen. So they will notice how the other parts of India is suffering without power while Delhi burns all its lights, they will notice how we spend so much money on the extravagance (and there will be a lot of it cuz we like to show off) while a lot of the other Indians are starving. Which is how people are commenting about how basic human rights are being violated while building for a festival which came out to show solidarity and support for all cultures and rights.

      • yaj permalink
        March 30, 2010 9:08 am

        Hi Leia,

        i doubt when somebody says that as a country we are not really known for sports.It might be just because we Indian’s are too obsessed about cricket and that’s why forget to recognize achievements in other sports.Today we have world champion in the form of Pankaj Advani(snooker and billiards,a very rare achievement ), M C Mary Kom and L Sarita Devi ( women boxing),we have a world number one boxer (VIJENDER SINGH),Karun Chandhok is driving for HRT F1 team in F1 racing,Saina Nehwal figure among the top 5 world badminton player,Viswanathan Anand world champion in chess,Joshna Chinappa doing well in women Squash Championships( a step forward ),we are finishing among the top 4 from the last 2 edition of commonwealth championships,our women athletes keep on dominating Asian Track and Field events,Milkha Singh’s record of winning 77 races out of 80 is still a distance dream for any track and field participant, we have so many world champions in Shooting(both men and women),we keep on figuring among the top 16 nation in davis cup,Mahesh bhupati and Leander Paes share around 20 grand slams between them,Sunil Chetri(soccer) is going to play for United States Major League Soccer side Kansas City Wizards ,Sachin Tendulkar need no introduction . There are many more to mention who are known around the world as champions except in their own country.So i personally feel , this commonwealth games surely going to prove as an event for so many hard working Indian athletes to establish themselves as world champions in the eye of their own people and hence motivating a lot of young Indians.

        Although we have problem of electricity supply and people starving on the street but we have to accept that the things have improved a lot .We can’t stop our efforts in the fields where we are doing well just because we are not featuring well in some other departments. America did organize Olympics despite having a large population of homeless people so why it is wrong if India does the same?I am sure you won’t stop eating in restaurants just because there are so many people starving in India on the streets(may be cruel but this is a fact).We don’t stop celebrate Diwali because so many parts of India does not have electricity supply.So, why to criticize it now when we celebrating the games with lights infront of whole world.Do we need to behave like posers just to calm their criticism?Why to write this article now, why not just before Diwali?

        When you compare India with China ,i see no comparison at all .We have no issue of censorship hence the world already know a lot about our policies and the living standards.After Slumdog Millionaire(movie) depiction, i guess nothing worse can be said about us therefore no need not to feel paranoid .Every second documentary on discovery or national geography is about India , hence the world is already well informed about us.The entire world is already watching us from the last 10 years so i find nothing new if they will talk a little more about us during common wealth games. We have always been open so it does not matter if they analyze every aspect of us more closely only to help their understanding about us.

        About your basic human rights thing ,they are violated throughout the world(it’s not a excuse but we can always work on it therefore no need to abandon games because of this issue) so why to single out India only.If you talk about America ,there also so many time human rights are violated and for sure you need no introduction to Australia in this regard who organized the last edition of commonwealth games.

        Foreign is not always better, just the need is to see our-self with more confidence.

        YAJ

  2. March 30, 2010 6:54 pm

    I do agree that cricket gets undue attention, which could’ve been spread out to other sports as well. But for a country with a population of more than 1 billion, we have a handful of people who have a name in sports. Leander Paes and Mahender Bhupati may be Indian but they do not even live and practice in India. Vijender Singh won a bronze medal – 3rd place – and because someone else got disqualified.
    We are still not seen in major sports events. We are not a threat to anyone… when one thinks of India, they think IT, not sports.
    Things might have improved but only in a fraction of the society. India had to borrow grains from other countries for the first time since it started the Green Revolution – is that a sign of improvement? That we no longer can even afford to feed the people?
    India is taking baby steps… which might be a lot in a country of this population. But trying to organize the Commonwealth Games when nobody cares about anything but themselves is like trying to write the GRE straight after passing your school boards without preparation.
    Does India have the capacity to bear the scrutiny it will come under? The scrutiny has economic ramifications – like it did for China… The reports that will come out of the games will be the basis for many of the companies to enter the country for business. They will say “oh but that happened during the games… is it really good to enter India at this point?”
    There are already several companies moving away to countries like Phillipines and Brazil… because they get better quality of service for a cheaper price.
    The Games might be at a make or break point for India… and human rights, basic amenities are things that ‘developed’ countries look to bring in their business – business that we need because we are completely ignoring our rural, farming population.

  3. yaj permalink
    March 31, 2010 2:58 pm

    Vijender Singh is world number 1 in his weight category and you can verify it visiting world boxing federation webpage.Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati(it’s not Mahender Bhupati) did get their initial training in India and they achieved big because they aspired big in their life.There is nothing wrong if , as a nation,we are willing to dream big today.We cannot produce world class athletes if our present champions are deprived of recognition and laurels which they truly deserve .This commonwealth game does provide a opportunity to all our champions to get recognized in the eyes of their own countrymen.This is an opportunity where they can inspire younger generation to become world champions. My whole point of conversation was that the time has come when we can look our self with more confidence .

    I hope you stayed in India during last couple of years as the last two years had been really bad for the Indian Agriculture sector . Several places of India faced severe drought and hence led to the shortage of food grains.Any responsible country would have done what India did(bought food grains) not to let their people starve. Infact ,our govt. went ahead by implementing loan waiver scheme(717 billion rupees) for farmers.

    “But trying to organize the Commonwealth Games when nobody cares about anything” is not correct to say at all.This way you questioning the credibility of Mrs.sheila dixit(Chief Minister of Delhi since 1998)under whose nose all the preparations are going on.She has proved herself on so many occasion and i am sure she will pass this commonwealth test with ease.Just you cannot generalize all politicians(some of them do think about their country).

    Your concern about companies running out of India is very naive.No where in the world they can get such a cheap labor force (and definitely talented people).All the big companies in the world have Indians as one of their major work force. We are bound to be the next economic power in the world.

    YAJ

    • March 31, 2010 6:30 pm

      I do agree with you that we need to recognize and encourage sports more in India… but my question is was Commonwealth Games an attempt to do that or more towards putting India on the economic global map? The Games in India will be an encouragement to any aspiring sports person in India, no doubt. Which is one good thing I guess.
      The shortage in food grain was not only due to the drought… it was because the government’s attention shifted to the cities and skilled labor – which is where foreign investment was pouring into. More people migrated into the cities, leaving fewer ppl for cultivation. The loan measure was a bandaid… not a cure.

      As for Mrs.Dixit… if she is incharge of the whole event’s organization, then yes I do question her credibility. There are several violations happening – human rights, general policies. Several structures that had been built for the Games have collapsed. It is her responsibility to ensure that these things do not occur. And she cannot do it alone. The team of people need to pull up their socks and get to work instead of seeing how much money they can make out of it. Banishing the rag pickers, paying manual laborers less than the minimum wage, building structures that collapse months after they were done – these are violations that need to be addressed NOW. Do you want headline news in every newspaper in the world that some building collapsed on a bunch of atheletes because someone violated building norms to pocket the extra money?

      And as for your last concern – check out how much business has been going to Manila and Brazil in the last year. Read why. Manila and Brazil are cheaper than India and they provide BETTEr quality of service is the word that is going out there. We are in the race to be the economic power – the race is still on and there are countries like Brazil and Manila as well. China has gotten a little slower because of concerns about their government and their policies – the scrutiny on which increased after the Olympics. Living in India, as Indians, we might not think certain things are concerns… but when an outside party is looking to invest, they might not really like or understand our concepts of “swalpa adjust maadi” or “jugaad”.

  4. YAJ permalink
    March 31, 2010 8:03 pm

    i can’t understand your skepticism at all.Every year 100 of cricket matches are played in India where the capacity crowd reaches upto 1 lakh but i never heard of any such incident which you are prophesying.Recently we organised world cup hockey,Commonwealth Shooting and boxing Championship for which the response were very good.I am sure none of your prophecies will be coming true.If jugaad is the only thing Indians know(according to you) then i am proud of the fact that using jugaad we are able to set up World class organisation like ISRO and ONGC , the world should learn it fast from us as we are among the best 6 nation of the world in space technology.
    One thing more, how would you like to react on the news that India is heading for record wheat production in 2010?

    once more i request to you, foreign is not always better …just have faith in our capabilities .There are number of people like you in Indian govt. organisation who are honest and think about the image of our country .Please shed this habit of outrightly labelling each one of them as corrupt.Just think about the National Highways built in the unthinkable terrains of India and you will realise there are people in Indian Govt. who are honest about their work.

    • April 1, 2010 6:28 pm

      Cricket is the ONLY sport which we encourage… it is the ONLY sport which we really pay attention to actually. But how many parents in India allow their kids to pursue sports as a full time career? how many universities offer sports management as a serious full time program? It is definitely a step ahead in organizing these games… albeit the dismal turnout for the Hockey Games…
      I have no idea where you get your stats from but the turnout for the Hockey Cup was quite bad…

      Anyway… I never said foreign is better. I have NO idea why you keep harping on that. I am only talking about the potential India actually has and the reasons why we fail to achieve full potential. We have done great things… we can do a lot more… except, since independence, there have been various blocks which have stopped progress. We do have some truly fantastic politicians and social workers. But each one of them have two corrupt politicians standing in their way.

      The Games are a chance to prove ourselves… and identify the problems that we have. Because till we acknowledge that something is wrong, we cannot fix it. Therefore, we need to look at the fact that there have been certain violations occurring in this event. Let us not get defensive and use this as an opportunity to fix it… and set an example for the other corrupt people. Problems exist in every country – the point is how we acknowledge it and work with it.

  5. YAJ permalink
    April 1, 2010 9:17 pm

    I think your main point of discussion was inefficiency of India in conducting a world class tournament but we organised Hockey world cup in a very world class manner.I never talked about the crowds turnout but anyways you forgot to answer about record production of wheat in India this time around.I am done with my part .I wish all your prediction come wrong and hope these games just not bring us only gold meadls but also some faith in some non-believers of our own country.

  6. August 18, 2010 11:12 am

    Hi Yaj,

    I felt I had to come back and point out that little report that is out right now about the Commonwealth Games and how we are step away from disaster. Do you have any comments now?
    Several people had be cautioning about this for months and people said we are being unfair. Unfortunately, we do know how politics works in this country. True, you and me want a better country and do not support corruption but the people who were there, doing things… they really don’t care about the country.

    I do wonder about your long silence on all my posts regarding the topic recently.

  7. YAJ permalink
    September 16, 2010 7:14 pm

    Hey, how are you doing? Just the things were very hectic for me past few months so could not continue arguing with you ( I missed them a lot J ).But , I was following all your post and I must say you have come out with some of my favorite post(Turning 63, Raksha Bandhan).I am back and hope to keep on testing your patience with my questions.

    Regarding this whole CWG corruption issue ,(honestly, I never had the courage to read it beyond headlines) I am sure, you are as disappointed as me and must not be feeling vindicated. We always knew this would happen but then we also knew this won’t be for the first time. Almost every big or small govt. project involve huge financial irregularities. Nobody cares to talk about them coz we assume it to be the part of the proceedings and take it as a normal thing.But this time it is CWG and it’s a international event where every one is watching us, so our so called educated sophisticated society has got a good stage to share their enlightened views.Indian TV media, they are best in making a mountain out of a molehill,they know best how to creat a sensation and get a good TRP(PEEPLI LIVE a good view of our very unprofessional media ) They are behaving like it’s something new happening in India.Everywhere, in blogs ,news channel , magazine , people are talking it in length, which is good anyways, but my question is, is it for real or it’s just a show off in front of the world that we do stand against corruption ? Today we feel insulted because the world will come to know our reality but is it not true that we are like this corrupt nation always.Why we care today? Why not we react when this happen at small levels ? May be the answer lies in our society where there is a habit of faking things to get a good image and feeling insulted when the truth comes out.This corruption cycle is very big, a person taking money to sell his vote or a big business man buying politicians for some favor or a News channel’s biased reporting( NDTV supports congress and in return BARKHA DUTT gets Padma shri during congress rule) .

    I still have hopes from our athletes who have been working hard and i am sure they will make us proud.For sure this whole incident will make us more aware about the loop holes which give way to corruption, we will be more experienced in organizing international event even if we end up with egg on our face this time .Not organizing these games is not a solution.Although it has exposed us in front of everyone but then we won’t have accepted it without all this humiliation.We have been shown the mirror aptly and the onus is now on all of us to come out as a better nation not to experience it again.Faltering out on the first hurdle does not kick you out of the race if you are willing to learn from all the mistakes.

    • September 17, 2010 8:17 am

      Hi Yaj,
      Welcome back 🙂 And glad you liked some of my writing!
      The CWG corruption issue… it is what I’ve been saying forever. That when we know we have a corrupt managerial level, it is stupid to put more temptation in front of them. We should’ve resolved some of these issues before we even bid for the CWG. This is like putting more drugs in front of a drug addict.

      I’m sure the athletes will give their best. That isn’t the worry. The worry is that they might not have competitors with all the other countries threatening to pull out in protest of the numerous violations that happened. Remember when I wrote this post in March or something, you said I was being unfair. But if we had done something then, we could’ve least saved face.

      And the comparision to an “indian wedding” – bullshit!

      As for the media, I have to agree. But then you have to understand that the media deals with current news. There have been numerous reports about corruption but it takes such a huge thing to really drive it home, which is why they played it up. For a while, at least. I don’t know if we will still accept it… i mean have you heard the ads on radio? Least in the city I am in, they pretend like everything is perfectly “good.” Find it kind of funny though.

  8. BarkingNJ permalink
    September 22, 2010 11:14 am

    Hey Leia, I perused this post/critique back in March, also now and then sifted thru your heated comments that followed. The whole thing never interested me as I am not in sports. But over the last one week or so the CGames scene has absorbed me in to it, as now its not merely about sports, the situation has escalated to a diplomatic problem (if not ‘diplomatic crisis’) for India.

    Any how, the reason I am here is just to say that when I originally read your post, I never thought you would be this right, but you were, and the reports that I am reading lately has made me to come back this post and admit you were so right back then.

    By the way, I am very much neutral about this situation, I am neither supporting nor opposing India about what she is doing, does not really concern me much.

    I know you hate Narendra Modi, but he had made some interesting remarks about the scene, typical of opposition rant which made me chuckle.

    • September 22, 2010 1:12 pm

      haha… what can i say? it was foretold….
      I mean we had SEVEN fricking years to prepare for this, right? And half the things aren’t ready and those which are, are falling down!

      Modi… there are other reasons for that.

      • yaj permalink
        September 29, 2010 5:30 am

        Looks like the CWG village condition is not as bad as reported by our cartoon media.I have been following the reaction from athletes staying out there( on you tube and i have a friend working as a volunteer in CWG village) and most of the time they say it is of world class. We always support freedom of the press but if it is of this low standard than we have to rethink over it.In the name of Press freedom , they are playing games where their main aim is to earn money no matter at what cost. Now a days non of these NEWS channels have the courage to cover the athletes talking positive about the facilities because that way their lies will come out. Sometimes i wonder if this false reporting was just meant for selling the news or is it a reaction from a country lacking in self belief ?But whatever it is it has deprived India of witnessing some of the best athletes from around the world.
        Do you think our media is enough mature to let them talk whatever they want to and modulate the things to create false sensation?You yourself is in this field so how about you writing a post on it ?

      • September 29, 2010 8:11 am

        The television media in our country has been a little sensational in the past few years and I have mentioned this earlier too. I agree with you about it.
        At the same time, a pretty room and soft lights does not take away the reality that the original budget more than tripled… there have been severe human rights violations (which was what this blog post was about), Delhi has been completely turned upside down to show the foreigners our “sparkling side” regardless of the problems it has caused to the residents.
        Many of the people in Delhi have fled to some other places for the period of the CWG.
        Some of the news was exaggerated but it wasn’t false. There is still some amount of responsibility in the media that wouldn’t make up stories like this.
        Not to mention, the reports of corruption, bridges and roofs collapsing – they were true. You cannot have such shoddy construction for a world class event and finish the preparations a day before the event is supposed to start. There are several dry runs that need to be done to check for defects. And there needs to be a plan about what to do with the place AFTER the event is over.

  9. yaj permalink
    September 29, 2010 11:45 am

    Most of the time i feel you are quite negative when it comes to write something about India. You prefer to see glass as half empty,totally ignoring the half filled part.From very beginning ,you are too conservative about India Hosting CWG.Now, when the apartment are good for athletes, you are raising concern for beggars and people living on unauthorized land ( slums and footpaths).If i get harsh( the way you get sometime) and ask you what is wrong in it?These people are living there illegally and removing them is not against law at all.”Human Right Violation”, do you think this kind of word exist in India and if it exist then is this the first instance when they have been violated ? For me it is more of a show off term used in speeches or on a big forum or when a terrorist get killed after an encounter .
    Yesterday after browsing intensively i found this link http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=235412&id=151599479507&fbid=439141439507&ref=mf .Can you help BBC to access these?
    Indian MEDIA sucks…..!! Selective reporting ,sensationalizing and total ignorance of positive points.They feel like a RESPONSIBLE MEDIA after reporting about stray dogs and blowing it out of proportion..Recent TELECOM SCAM involving A.Raja is worth of around 100000 crore(More than expenditure on CWG) but a common person is more aware about CWG debacle ,thaxs to our responsible media for putting it with lot of mirch masala.I would like to experience the amount of responsibility in the media once these games are over.Lets see if they can keep this whole issue alive.
    This all does not mean giving clean chit to our corrupt Politicians,wherever they are involved drama is bound to happen.They will have there testing time after games but presently we should focus on stopping this negative publicity and should encourage the people who are still working hard out there to make these games a success, despite all these hiccups.

    • September 29, 2010 12:12 pm

      Yaj, you lost track of the point I made in this post. “Human Rights Conditions” was about the laborers and workers for the CWG, not the people on the streets (which is a different issue).
      And the point I made here was why was the violation such a surprise? Go back and read the post. We are saying the same things.
      “I am scared that India will end up with an egg on her face. There is too much apathy in this country… and there are basic problems we need to solve first – like electricity.”
      This was my point.

      As for the sensationalizing news bit, I agreed with you, didn’t i? yes, the media goes overboard and sometimes the truth gets buried in the shouting. But it does not remove the fact that there were violations. Several crucial ones.

      And as you did bring up the slum dwellers, the Indian government has known about these people for decades. We all know they are illegal. But nobody did anything and now just to show we are ‘doing good,’ we kick these people out? These might be slums to us but it is their home. The place where they were born, lived and die. Can’t link this article but there was a piece in a magazine Caravan about how the rag pickers of Delhi, who are crucial to the infrastructure are now being banned during the games. Read that piece (too long to elaborate here).

      And why the fuss? Because an international opportunity like this is a good chance to put pressure on the country to fix things that they otherwise ignore. To make them act. China had its turn during the Olympics to fix several human rights violations… the world is watching the way we act and react, and India’s growth is poised on that. Maybe this was common knowledge to us but now the world also knows about it, and it isn’t a pretty picture. And it is like we are caught with our pants down… despite knowing all of this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: