CWG: Playing Games with Commoner’s Wealth

Sep 25, 2010

The well-known writer Paulo Coelho in his most famous work The Alchemist says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Farah Khan made a close translation of this statement in her Om Shanti Om, still, it is yet to be proved if such a thing as that can really happen. Especially when you consider that India wanted to bring home the Commonwealth Games so badly that we reportedly stooped to what we are best at – bribery. Yet, with all that wanting, it seems more likely that the entire universe is conspiring in sabotaging the Games.

Perhaps back in 2003, when India raised its hand higher than the rest of the world to get the CWG cake, our officials forgot their spectacles at home and thus could read only the ‘Wealth’ part of the Commonwealth Games. With so much wealth to be ‘common’ly shared, who wouldn’t want to shell out a few bucks to get a lot more? And then, seven years later, luckily, they realised there was a catch to the contract – the Games part. Like those small prints in insurance documents, it came as a jolt. And like our typical reactions to those small prints, our officials too began to bravely defend themselves, while knowing fully well their own culpability.

Apart from the money-making business that it has been, the Commonwealth Games has at least kept the world in good humour, though, of course, at our cost (that word ‘cost’ seems such a joke). British, Australian and Canadian media have been at their wittiest best, or rather, their sarcastic best, while our own media people get up every morning in the hope of being able to report at least some small positive news about the CWG. But all they get to hear is the sound of the collapsing roof, the noise of the crashing bridge, the din made by crumbling roads, the racket about filthy living conditions and of course, more withdrawals by top athletes.

In fact, no more does such news worry us - for all you know, the universe is indeed conspiring in helping us to achieve our dream of bagging bags of gold medals. More the number of athlete withdrawals, better the chances our own athletes have. That’s perhaps why our officials still have the audacity to declare to the world that there’s nothing to worry about, and Suresh Kalmadi can actually say he could have it all ready in a matter of one hour!

The good news is that Australia, England and New Zealand have mustered the courage to participate in the Games. And some of them have even arrived. So what if some of their top athletes are missing in action? There are better things to worry about, like what suit to wear for the opening ceremony.

On a serious note, there is no doubt that we have lost a golden opportunity here. And the sad part is that the damage is already done – even if the Games were to go on smoothly, it would take a miracle to clean up the mess we made of it. We may be forgiven, but the world would think twice about letting India host an international event of this magnitude, and we shouldn’t be surprised if, in the process, we managed to jeopardise our rights to co-host the next cricket World Cup too. Of course, cricket is a totally different matter and thankfully there would be no need for a Village to accommodate thousands of athletes. And for sure, BCCI is far better and cleverer than our CWG committee. At least it follows a moderate diet.

(Now that word ‘Village’ makes me wonder – did our CWG committee actually mistake it to mean an Indian village? If so, they have every right to be so confident!)

South Africa, like us, is a Third World nation, but unlike us, it so easily and efficiently hosted a world class event, without even so much as a whimper. What’s more, FIFA has even gone on to declare the South Africa Football World Cup the best in history. CWG 2010, on the other hand, is well on its way to be declared the worst ever, though of course we all fervently hope not. But the more you think of the Games, the more it seems like a petty school sports day, or to be a little more generous, an inter-school sports event where it doesn’t matter if the flag falls down the pole, or the rope in tug-of-war snaps at the first pull or the tracks are full of sharp stones. To be sure, even the penguins in Antarctica would be waiting with baited breath for some overhead light to go off during the CWG opening ceremony. And the British, Canadian and Australian wisecracks would sharpen their tongues even more while their smiles become wide enough to accommodate another 32 teeth.

A friend of mine had a beautiful phrase to describe our frustration at the way CWG preparations are going. She called it ‘negative patriotism’ – that is, intense hope to succeed mixed with cynicism. We all want the Games to begin, go on and end on a positive note. We want to be proud of our nation and show the world what we are capable of. And then come the corrupt officials who snatch away those dreams. We are annoyed by the people who have been putting our pride at stake for the sake of money, and infuriated at their lackadaisical attitude and their totally unprofessional approach. From Bollywood stars to the paanwalla, each and everyone has been vocal in expressing the nation’s disgruntlement. Media has often been blamed for creating unnecessary hype, but this time, we need to thank the media for keeping the CWG guys on their toes.

Just the other day, an Aussie journalist entered the CWG arena with a detonation kit enough to cause 200 explosions. And he walked in without any problem – not one guard stopped him or even threw him a glance. Perhaps the guard took him to be someone from the Commonwealth Federation come on a visit, or perhaps the brilliant, dazzling white skin blinded his sight. One only hopes they don’t mistake an AK-47 to be a toy gun.

All said and done, it’s tiresome to be so cynical about something we should actually have been proud of. The only thing we can do is pray that the health of the Commonwealth Games improves and that as a nation, we do not become a casualty. And who is to be blamed? Not to worry, there will be a full-fledged commission to investigate (perhaps headed by Kalmadi himself), and by the time it comes up with an answer to the whodunit, the human species will be near extinction.

More from Anisa Fathima:


by Anisa Fathima
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Comment on this article


    Sun, Oct 03 2010


  • Mr.Pbr, Udupi/Auh

    Wed, Sep 29 2010


    Telling Modi developed Gujarat without Central Funds is like "Kaage Haarsudu" simply not true!!!

    Even your own Advani/Jaitley are more positive about the games than you(Advani said he never criticised the games and wished it would be a success)

    Perhaps BJP in karnataka should ask Modi to build houses for northern karnataka people who were devastaded by the floods last year since Reddy's & Yeddi's together couldn't build even a single house for the affected.

    Shame on such BJP Governments!!

  • nagesh nayak, bangalore

    Tue, Sep 28 2010

    hi,Nitesh R.M, Mangalore,

    You just wokeup from sleep. Who is ghora? Your italian is not a ghora?

    issue here is not on ghora or kala . The way of preparation of CWG is totally a mess.

    There are more opponents than friends for KALLU mama in your UPA.


    After media reports action for cleaning & other tings took right path.

    Do not give credit to delhi for development . All our tax money spent on delhi roads, metro,flyovers etcc. by neglecting other cities.

    Shri Narendra Modiji developed Gujarath on his own & no proper support from central.

    When your 42 years old young hero is having enough time to go to mumbai to withdrew cash from atm & same hero is not openning his lips about CWG Scam which is happenning under his nose.


  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Mon, Sep 27 2010

    Oh yes, the wealth of commonor's at display at these CWG. The anglo saxons are taking India for a ride in their ridicule and hopeless criticism. Snakes found, wash rooms filthy, constuction shoddy and trust me, this is not a FIVE STAR hotel for haven's sake, its that these Anglo Saxon nations need.

    While I am prepared to take some negetives in the Delhi organisers, it is only proper to lash out the local and foreign media for potraying India as whatever they want to potray.
    India is India and it cannot be changed for somebody's praise or for somebody's convenience. There is defending but making sure that India will do the best at these CWG.
    The success comes with failures, Let us wish CWG all the success.
    We are what we are and dont want to be what others are.
    Jai hind

  • Wilson Dsouza, Paladka

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    CWG Games : Games for the Prestige of Politicians and Bureaucrats with Common Man's Wealth.

  • Clara Lewis, Kemmannu/Dubai

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    Very good comments by Mr.Nitesh R.M, Mangalore, to know what the world think about Modern India, Indians must read the book 'INDIA BOOMS' By JOHN FARNDON. The Breathtaking Development and Influence of Modern India.

  • ilyas, Dubai

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    Well Said Nitesh.Rather than Goras we have to blame ourselves. Our Weakness has become there strength. I sincerely wish a grand success for CWG.

  • ilyas, Dubai

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    Well Said Nitesh.Rather than Goras we have to blame ourselves. Our Weakness has become there strength. I sincerely wish a grand success for CWG.

  • Ronald, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    Good one Anisa. Very well written. It is such a shame that our Politicians have shown their true face to entire world. By the way yesterday there was a noise of collapsing bed in the village!.

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Well summated and timely article Anisha - keep going! Hope everything is not lost and some of the lost glory, negatives and the criticism that has been dished out by the press and the media during the last couple of weeks will be salvaged. Wish the CWG every success.

  • Vivek Dsouza, Neelavar

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Nice one Anisa, Your articles are so lively & timely. Well done. I have gone through mostly all of your articles, they are very nice....... Cheers!!!!!!!

  • iqbal, bangalroe

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    HENRY MISQUITH, MANGALORE/BAHRAIN..this is exact dream of madam sonia..and she succeeded in it..she wil deliver more such miracle if rahul becomes pm of india..

  • Nitesh R.M, Mangalore

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    @ To all those cynics in India. I will reiterate the same thing what i wrote in my earlier comment.

    link :

    Let all Indians get one thing straight, If we dont stand by our motherland at this hour and defend it ..these "GHORAS" will leave no stone unturned to tear apart our reputation just to prove that they are still superior and that we are still driving around in bullock carts.

    This games village has been built by Dubai based EMAAR & MGF and these people are best in the business. A couple of pictures of 'paan stained' wash basins and bathrooms in buildings which are still being furnished should'nt be used as a yardstick to evaluate the success of these games.

    Folks, lets admit we are no longer a land of snake charmers, Unfortunately, the west still thinks of us as a backward nation. How many of us have been to New Delhi off lately? I gotta say this the overall civil infrastructure there is world class and probably better than most western or far eastern cities.(Sorry Mumbai!! you are no where close to our Cspital), lane discipline and traffic management is the best in the country.

    So, please stop providing fodder to these "prejudiced anglo media" who off lately have'nt been able to digest the fact India is a major player in the global arena and they have lost out to India. So i guess this is their only chance of getting back.

  • Omer, Dubai

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    I am looking for a helmet to hide my Indian face, so much disgrace these politicians have braught to us

  • Khatib, UAE

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    We lack in safety and standard in construction and babus and corruption had added more fuel, the games would have been a hit if handled by some private sector like TATA or Reliance but the question is how then our politicians could grasp the common wealth. Whatever happened is for good, at least now our corruption has been exposed to the world and now there is little hope that we as a nation would wake up and smell the coffee


    Sat, Sep 25 2010



    Sat, Sep 25 2010


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