Ostrich Syndrome!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Commonwealth Games and Kalawati

The so called “irresponsible remarks” by Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar (on the Commonwealth Games) have left the government and its beloved babus fuming. The routine and the alternative media is buzz with an outright condemnation of Mr. Aiyar, calling him anti-national and an unworthy son of this great motherland. It all amuses me.
As an Indian, I know that the stakes of Indian pride on a global scene are too high to be meddled with at the last moment. The Beijing Olympics have showcased China to a global audience and we are told by the self righteous hawks that we too should use this opportunity to showcase the might of India, the next super-power. We are told that events like the Commonwealth Games bring with them employment and opportunities for developing and improving the existing infra-structure. The government sees the event as a boon for economic development and prosperity. I won’t be wrong in concluding that we have been made to believe that the woes of the common Indian will be laid to rest on October 3, 2010 as soon as the games are declared open!
Alas! This could have been true. The darker side of the organization of these games is not only murky but plainly speaking dirty to the soul. Corruption, malpractices, poor quality and irrelevant budgeting have plagued the games in a big way. The games will conclude with an approximate budget of 35000 Crore rupees (or 1.3 Billion USD). Imagine a sum of 3500 Crore Rupees just to develop a showcase of might and economic well being in a country where 47% of population earns less than 1.25$! What can we call this? Are there words to describe this inhuman and irrelevant extravagance?
I agree with those who argue that events like the Commonwealth games shouldn’t be compared with governmental policies of public welfare. True but unfortunately it is not all about money; it is the irrelevance of thought of our policy makers which angers me. It was heartening to see Mr. Rahul Gandhi talk about Kalawati during the trust motion in 2008. But can he imagine that how many more Kalawatis would have been added to the system ever since the inception of construction work for the Commonwealth Games? I still remember Beena, the eight year old daughter of Ram Pyari, a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh who had come to Delhi with her family to work on one of the stadia. Beena had bone cancer and of course the family could not afford any treatment. Beena died in one of the slums which had come out as an illegitimate offspring of the Commonwealth games village. The family wanted to take Beena’s body back home but couldn’t afford loosing the provisional livelihood as the contractor wanted the work to go on a war footing- he had a deadline to meet. Beena was buried in Delhi and Ram Pyari continued working at the stadia which is now ready as a symbol of India’s growing economic might- the ornament of the showcase which Mr. Kalmadi and his bunch of imbecile nitwits want us to appreciate. I am sure the story of Beena and Ram Pyari is not the only one. Many Beenas lie buried under the debris of what we think is the greatest sporting event in the country. Surely, the cost of organizing the games goes far beyond 35000 Crore rupees.
It is ironic that the logo of these games has been made to look like the Chakra (a symbol of India’s freedom) with four colors- red, blue, yellow and pink. Each color has relevance and they represent the “trinity of values” which symbolizes the games. Red represents a unification of humanity, yellow –a chance for the athletes to realize their destiny, blue promotes equality and pink we are made to believe adds an element of surprise and luxury to the games and reflects India in all its resplendent glory. On one of Beena’s visit to my clinic I had asked her which color does she like the best. It haunts me that she had abruptly said “Pink”. No wonder India’s “resplendent” glory could only be erected on her flesh and bones.
I am surprised why the “trinity of values” concept eludes our ruling class when it comes to prioritizing hunger, poverty and ignorance? Why can’t the red represent an equitable distribution of resources? Why can’t blue promote social equality and social justice? And how about assigning the yellow color to opportunities and hope to fulfill the destiny of millions of common Indians who are otherwise too effete to even stretch their imagination beyond the need and fulfillment of daily bread? It is indeed a matter of shame that we want to hold the Commonwealth games even when we have yet to sort out more pressing issues which require an in-depth and humane allocation of funds and resources. I won’t be exaggerating if I compare this to Pokhran-II where an incumbent BJP government found it appropriate to conduct the blasts and gain instant middle class popularity rather than mending India’s gaping economic and social wounds.
The showcase of Indian glory will also be a hallmark of core values which define our ruling political and bureaucratic setup - corruption, lop sided priorities and a determination to pose an untimely, unasked and unnecessary agenda on the common man. I agree with Mr. Aiyar that with the conclusion of Commonwealth Games on October 13, the hungry hounds will look forth to future programs of loot. Maybe Asian games or even Olympics- the final sporting spectacle, the final event for unprecedented plunder of my and your money. In the mean time Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s Kalawatis and my Ram Pyaris can only curse their fates. Their numbers will grow. Many more Beenas will be buried under the debris of “resplendent” glory and phony pride of India. Pinks will elude their meaning for her and for the likes of her; black will be the color of the day.


Nagendra said...

Very good article sir. I liked the bold stmt of Mr Ayer. He deserves different coverage than what was portrait in e-media. Most of the stupid channels were trying to say it in different light. for Mr Kalmani, pargat sing rightly told him kal of indian sports, mr Kal mani was on his usual best condemning Mr Ayer. Truly we are far behind China to follow tit for tat. Chinese's economy is on a very different scale, almost competing with the best in world a few billions dollars are nothing for them. On contrary 35000 cr or 9 billion dollor is to much for we indians when several states are below kongo in universal poverty index.
Your example of Beenas was heart touching. Hope we can save at least a few such Beenas on our own. Kalmani ears are filled with dollars he is not going to listen to us. God bless such innocent poor people and give them enough courage and strength to fight for themselves.

ravi said...

Good info regarding Commonwealth Games 2010 brand ambassadors. As Country is proud to conduct 2010 Commonwealth Games and is

looking forward to make it a grand success. As Commonwealth Games 2010 Village is almost done which is located nearer to

Stadiums. Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony are to be conduct in same stadium which has been built and given to nation.

Indian Government has built some new stadiums and renewed some old stadiums of around 82 stadiums to conduct CW Games 2010


Commonwealth Games 2010

Surendra Mohan said...

Dear Dr. Khan,

I congratulate you on your excellent piece on Comonwealth Games. Not only Kalmadi, but the entire elite and our rulers are imbecile.
The story of Ram Pyari and her family is quite typcal of our times.

Surendra Mohan

Ashini Srivastava said...

Couldn't agree more. This whole tamasha is such a debacle....I am appalled!!

KMS said...

Well written Shah Alam. I totally subscribe to your veiws. We should demand a social audit of money spent on infrastruture projects at the expense of rural development

Neyaz said...

My 2 cents

I think that for a developing nation there is a fine line between spending on such events and welfare. We need both, but the question is what is the appropriate mix. And how can we find a formula where these 2 things do not have to necessarily contradict each other. To begin, we need to minimize corruption and implement the laws of the country- such as fair labor practices.

Prakash said...

Dear Sri. Alam Khan saheb:
I share your anguish!
Like you I abhor the extravaganza our nation indulges in, for the purpose of gaining global applauds. As you rightly point out they are irrelevant to a country where more than 40% lack a balanced diet, whose life are in the control merciless exploiters and increasingly driven to suicide like the farmers on whose toil the countries food security relies on and the weavers the next major occupational group who cloth the poor.
Our democratic government is ruled by feudal lords - intellectuals feudal in mind, Corporate barons and power hungry politicians serve by corrupt, spine-less, and manipulative Babus treating the people as serfs to serve the ruling majesty.
The serfs are doled out with with welfare measres such as PDS, NREG and Arogyasri that will keep them happy praising the Royal leaders and remaining in continued serfdom.
Where people are awakened and question the plans - purportedly for development they are brutally suppressed by might of the trigger happy police force. Eg;Recent Sompeta incident in AP.

In solidarity

Bhaskar Chakrabarti said...

Dear Sir,

Good article. It is loot time in the Commonwealth Games by the officials. Even CVC have pointed out major lapses/iregularities. There is no accountability of officials and no expenses. All these would come up after the Games. Filing an RTI application for details of expenditure would help find the truth. Why was the expenditure so inflated? What is the justification for the cost of expenditure gone up by more than 100%?

Sanjay Chaturvedi said...

i'm not with the seasonal sycophants like mani shankar ayyar - who sometime utter correct things, incidentally or with some oblique intent.


Vijay Saluja said...

Dr Khan-my compliments: a lovely emotive piece
Vijay S

Mukul Dube said...

It's one thing to speak of the colossal waste involved in hosting the Commonwealth Games and quite another to hope that what is a fait accompli turns out to be a failure. Aiyar needs to think straight.

Mumtaz said...

Dear Dr. Alam,
A real situation presented very well. The development indicators (health indicators, literacy rate, education-particularly school education, public infrastructure………) are self explanatory that where we stand in the world. An estimation (Arjun Sengupta Committee estimation) suggests that 77 percent population of the country lives in poverty. We are still struggling to make available to a larger proportion of the country three times meal.
The development statistics is just opposite of the principles of the answerable, democratically elected government of the welfare state and the Directive Principles of the constitution of country. The government/the policy makers can deceit themselves but can not impress the world by organizing events like Commonwealth Games at the costs of the majority of the population of the country living in poverty.


Mumtaz Ahmed

Chamaraj Savadi said...

Heart touching. I too have seen so many Kalavatis and Ram Pyaris. Same questions haunted me. They are still there and questions are still not answered. Poverty is a curse, and still worse is cynicism and indiffrence of our rulers.

Vishwa said...

Well said, Dr.Khan. If only the organisation of the CWG had been done in a humane and efficient way, it would have been a grand statement by India. But it is now just another of the scams- like fodder, mining,stamp paper, big projects- that are routinely perpetrated on Indians with countless voiceless victim. There is no reason to feel any sense of pride in the CWG.

LP said...

btw, 35,000 crores is not $1.3 billion, but around $8 billion

Kennedy said...

…a wasteful project. we do not have the character to host an event as big as this. can we stop spitting, can we stop urinating on the streets, et al. these are more important than spending thousands of crores. before we construct and allow the contractors and politicians loot us, we need to keep our cities clean so that people feel happy to visit India. spending money was the bait here the politicians. i am sure the event will flop. we need to set our house in order, fix basic issues before we can think of mega events like this, or a F1 track, etc.

MS said...

Wouldn’t blame only Kalmadi. It’s impossible for one man to orchestrate a scam of such proportions. Surely even the PM has been aware of what’s been happening — considering that the stadiums are in the vicinity of Parliament?
… Rs 35,000 crore for 11 days — more than 3,000 crore a day.
:) HOw many schools and hospitals could’ve been built with that money?

Harkol said...

Leaving aside stupid airthmetic (1.3billion for 35K crores), this article does hit some points.
CWG or even Chandrayaan are indeed be a vanity (and embarassment) for a nation like ours, considering the miniscule amount we spend on educating rampyaris.
But, it isn’t really either-or kind of situation. Indian central govt. revenues are sufficient to support both Education and other prestigious/defence projects. It is the pilferage and the mindset of ‘give the fish’ instead of ‘teach how to fish’ that has screwed things for 3 generations already…

Nastika said...

3 takeaways from Dr Khan’s rant:

(1) Contractor was cruel in not granting paid-leave to Ram Pyari to perform the last rites of her daughter. Somebody has to take up this issue with Labour ministry.

(2) Instead of staging CWG, Govt could have spent $1.3 billion on cancer research, find a vaccine and put an end to cancer (end misery of people like Ram Pyari).

(3) Point ignored by Dr Khan: Ram Pyari could get the best cancer treatment in Delhi. Could she have in UP? Its another point that even the best wasn’t good.

Not A Witty Nick Says: said...

If only side effect of hosting this event is getting better public transportation and primary infrastructure then we should make Kalmadi and his shishyas run Municipal Corporations, then probably as a side effect, we may get playgrounds and sports infrastructure.

A tiny fraction of what this games is going to cost could have been utilised to create more infrastructure and public transportation, isn’t it?

What good is these games when the Head of Commonwealth or any reputed athlete is not willing to come!?

WTF do we even need the Commonwealth? Hell with their scholarships, let’s raise money ourselves and set up scholarships!
Look, how badly is the UK treating Indian medical students.

Just how much of the sports infrastructure created during the National Games that were held in Bangalore and Mysore(which had an ox as its mascot, which in the ads, cried hoarsely “Nandu, nandu, nandu, yEn avandu?) is still usable?

Prajwal said...

Your comment seems a little shallow as you speak of character of the people and then link it to spending on grandiose plans. While I agree that our character needs a “makeover”, I am not sure if the change reaquired is related to spending money. We all see more than our share of well educated professionals etc polluting and vandalising and urinating in public etc. So the assumpiton that spending on education and better housing and more projects for the poor is false in the sense that it will not bring any change whatsoever in our mentality which is by default to take everyone other than the self for granted

@Dr Khan
If you feel for the poor, would you care to explain why the doctors(your colleagues/fraternity/fellow doctors) charge such EXHORBITANT rates for common operations and procedures in fancy hospitals?Would you care to explain why educated doctors and surgeons refuse to work in government hospitals in villages? I do believe that it is not only the rich city dwellers who need medical care. Would you perhaps care to explain why doctors make patients wait for hours at a stretch for a 5 min consultation in which neither the diagnosis nor the course of treatment is explained properly? Isn’t that abusing the ignorance of the uneducated and the fiscally desparate? When medical care in India is becoming from one of the best most affordable systems in the world into a medical system in which good care is unaffordable to all but the millionaires/billionaires/crorepathis, thnks to the sea of private hospitals/doctors, is it fair to question the government’s interpretation of what is important on a world stage? When private healthcare practitioners who vastly outnumber the government practitioners have decided to make more profit and money and spend them on posh and useless unaffordable and ugly hospitals, is it fair to question the aspiration to hold an event on the International stage (the quality of the organisation is a different question altogether, that has more to do with the attitude of the organisers I suppose).

Vikram J Kulkarni said...

CWG business can only yield concrete people…. we are the same people who are proud to be oldest civilization and then we have deteriorated to this level that we are now almost stone at heart..

our money could have spent in
1. providing/improving basic facilities like drinkable water
2. improving connectivity between cities
3. improving irrigation system
4. building schools, hospitals etc. in the remotest places
5. building green energy systems for all cities.
and this list can be extended for the betterment of humanity.

next generation will curse you for this too. you are not doing things which are required instead you have indulged in the showoff money that could have spent for citizens betterment. now we going idiots for not spending money wisely. we are really idiots of IT age.

Murthy said...

this is called – hottege hittilla juttige mallige
good to hear that some learned ‘Khan’ doctor carries some heart in Dil li.
ever since the open market culture started by Madmohan – the four corners of india evangelized by NRN (south), TATA (east) Ambani(west) and Defence budget(north) nothing else prospers apart from the headlines that these bourgeoisie vomit upon.
and that has to be taken as employment oppurtunities by the rest and become krithaartha – specially owing their taxes and allegiances to Delhi and Mumbai.

For a small example – when NRN started company with 8 people all were proficient and equally respected. Today when someone is injected/ejected out of company there is no respect since there is always someone else to come.
This is what free market capitalism has brought – the class war. while a previous generation enjoyed respect today all are put into state of disorder and nobody is accountable.
At the same time the upper class which has developed and enjoys undiminishing wealth with day trading of share bazaar with personal special accounts available with every bank and no need for them to work at all. ( day trading is banned in europe and other ‘democratic’ economies)

It’s just insensitive baddi maklu class which this market has brought about – even if PM intervenes the class does not bother apart from making 20-30 storeyed buildings for wives and keeps.
The class is just worried about money ,it’s baddi ,investment and how it can be increased. churumuri just had brought about topic of ripping off of insurance companies – this shows even high end games predominantly for the upper class vomitting – there is no rules ,insurances and regulations for workers.
For the facilities and comfort of upper class every Tom, Dick and Vinay is working unto death; and there is not even basic facilities for workers!
Even now most people advocate that due to these miscreant baddi maklu all the employment oppurtunites are created and hence country should be grateful to them.

OTOH the UP – the densest populated area of the world -around 20 crores now- is a gift of congies to the nation where votebank was allowed to breed like mosquitoes. Stringent laws of population control in Ganga basin should be brought into effect immediately.