Getting my Goat

For any of you who are my friends on facebook, you may have noticed my less than enthusiastic updates on the commonwealth games, otherwise known as CWG. So...here's why they are getting my goat:

First of all, aren't we, as a country, a little too poor to afford such exhibitions of chauvinism and ego? Yes, I know it's the world's 11th largest economy and growing at the second fastest rate. But the GDP per capita is still $ 1000, barely Rs. 45,000 per year. 850 million Indians are below the poverty line. The money is far better spent on doing something useful to make them part of the India that is shining, rather than on buying a little more spit and polish for shining India. It's the equivalent of me spendingmy money buying my son books rather than on hosting his birthday party at a five-star venue. One is going to have a long term benefit, the other is momentary, for the sake of impressing other people and soon to be forgotten.

Secondly, if at all you insist on holding such an event, why, for pity's sake, must it be at such an enormous expense? I'm sure Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to India is going to cost far less, despite state-level hospitality. The initial budget of Rs. 325 crore is large enough. For it to officially balloon to Rs. 20,000 crore and unofficially to Rs. 80,000 crore is unforgivable! It is evidence of a complete lack of sense of accountability on the parts of the Organizing Committee and the governments - central and state. The politicians and the various govenment agencies and private firms have assumed that they can continue to fritter away or pocket, with impunity and complete immunity from prosecution, the hard-earned money of people like me, legitimate tax payers. They know that no other politician will dare raise a finger at someone who is corrupt, because that guy is just waiting for his chance to be in power and do the same thing! Whether it is a Raja in the telecom scam or the fertiliser scam, the kargil coffins or the Rs. 1000 per roll toilet paper ordered for the CWG, what do politicians care, it's not their money, it's ours that is getting spent.

Thirdly, the display of utter incompetence on organising the event was a shame to witness. Why does anyone need an 'Empowered Group of Ministers' to organise an event, as opposed to a project manager who is given full powers to take the final decision on everything? Look at DMRC, where Sreedharan runs a tight ship and delivers each stretch of the metro ahead of time, and gets extension after extension. The EGoM has no idea how to organise anything, apart from a walkout from the Lok Sabha, and these are the people entrusted to ensure that detailed arrangements for hosting an event with hundreds of athletes go off without a hitch. Thank God better sense prevailed in the UID project and they hired Nandan Nilekani to head it - let's watch and wait to see the comparison.

Fourthly, it's the CWG, not Davos or a meeting of the UN Security Council. The CWG is an idea so weak that even the titular head can't be buggered to show up and sends in a substitute. Yet, for the duration of the CWG, every single person in delhi is getting his life disrupted, because of some so-called privilege of hosting. All roads have suddenly become narrower because of lanes blocked off. Not only that, but you can get arrested for trespassing into a CWG lane, because that is obviously a bigger crime than, say drunk driving, burglary etc. Moreover the delegates actually want the lanes blocked off entirely for the duration of the games ( thank God better sense prevailed for once). Schools are closed for 15 days. College hostels have chucked out students who now have to pay several times the rent and stay in rented accommodation themselves, so colleges can host delegates. Offices have been forewarned to change their timings in order not to crowd the poor delegates. On radio, a government ad actually exhorts people to either use public transport or just avoid stepping out of the house during the games.I know we believe atithi devo bhava, but that doesn't mean that we become abject slaves in front of the atithi!

Fifthly, we have the ridiculous statements made by politicians to demonstrate our 'worldclass' status to the world. So what if a footbridge falls down and injures labourers? (So what if it had fallen after construction and injured normal citizens.) as long as our foreign delegates are not harmed, opines Shiela Dikshit, not known for displays of intelligence or sensitivity. (In 2008, when TV journalist Soumya was shot dead while returning home from work late at night, Madam famously stated that 'girls should not be adventurous'). "Our standards of hygiene are different", states Lalit Bhanot, convincing the world that an average Indian home would have shit everywhere but in the pot and fleabitten dogs on all beds. Maybe a fit punishment would have been for him to have been locked into one of those famous rooms, complete with stray dog. On the other hand, the stray dog may not have been able to withstand it!

Lastly, this mess-up of an event has now emboldened our extremely intelligent leaders to start dreaming about an India bid for the Olympics! As a legitimate tax payer, I vociferously object to this misuse of my tax money!!! Can i resign my citizenship?

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