The Indian Midnight Oil, and CWG

Oct 9, 2010

On January 1, the first thing that most of us do to usher in the New Year is go through the fresh clean calendars and check out the holiday list for the year. Sport freaks also make a note of the various sporting events over the next twelve months and plan their leave as per the varying levels of importance of the events. As we stepped into 2010, October 3 was in the mind of almost every Indian. This was to be the day when our great nation would for the first time, host the Commonwealth Games. Now let us picturize Delhi on September 3, exactly a month before the start of this extravaganza. From what is going on in your mind, there is a lesson to be learnt!

We are often told that getting our things done in time and being ready is the right way to go about things. Even the great Indian saint Kabirdas had said hundreds of years ago that things meant to be done tomorrow ought to be done today. But the point to note is this: these sayings on time management do not apply to us Indians! And that's because we Indians are just extraordinary at finishing up our tasks at the very last minute! The Commonwealth Games opening was there for all to see, testifying this wondrous fact.

Consider this - there was barely a week left and there were 6000 rooms to be cleaned. There were five days left and a bridge that had taken 18 months to complete had to be replaced. There were three days left and there was the daunting task of winning over the faith, belief and trust of the visiting delegations. There was a day left and all the above things had been done!

The same media and the same voices that raised concerns on everything possible now began singing praises. India slowly started looking up and that too with a smile! As the opening ceremony unfolded, the awestruck faces of the 60,000 people in the jam-packed stadium and the breathtaking performances were sufficient for India to laugh off all that had been said until then.

I am definitely not supportive of the manner in which Kalmadi and his team planned the preparations and I am not turning a blind eye towards the various controversies that cropped up. I am only focusing on the unimaginable progress achieved in the last few hours of the last few days of the last week. And all along, India had sounded confident of putting up a good show. With all the odds stacked against them and the generous media only showering light on one debacle after another, Kalmadi and the even the country had their backs to the wall. A miracle was needed, and a miracle was what we got!

I could trace this unique quality of last minute preparations and the ability to pull it off to the younger generation as well. We have exams every other month and our plight even a day before the D-day is miserable, let alone a week like in Uncle Kalmadi's case. As realization sets in about the impending exams, the syllabi usually reveals topics we have never ever heard of in our entire lives. Most of the times, we manage by studying whatever little is possible. Sometimes, we manage without that little study session too. No details please!

The Indian Cricket Team follows this pattern very strictly too as evident from a few recently concluded series. We lose and lose until there comes about a do-or-die game which we have to win to stay alive in the competition. No points for guessing who wins that game! And sometimes, we end up winning the series too!

If this entire approach could be summed up in four words, it would have to be said it's all about ‘Burning the Midnight Oil!' In India, the midnight oil never runs out. Not until the task at hand is complete. It is as if time itself freezes and we are given the priviledge of making up for the lost time. The Games provide us with a fresh memory which undoubtedly serves as testimony to this.

‘All’s well that ends well’ - that's what Kalmadi would have muttered to himself on his way back home after the Opening Ceremony. Let us keep our fingers crossed and hope he says it after the Concluding Ceremony too! As A R Rahman said at the end of the Ceremony, ‘Jai Ho!’

Perhaps we set a new Commonwealth Games record of getting our act together in the shortest possible time!


Mario Monteiro - Archives:

By Mario Monteiro - Mangalore
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Comment on this article

  • Avil, Bajpe/Singapore

    Thu, Oct 14 2010

    nice article Mario!

  • Anil Pinto, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Tue, Oct 12 2010

    Quite a thought-provoking article. The education system which reduces learning to last minute mugging up, perhaps also contributes to the midnight-oil syndrome.

  • Bhagavan, Belthangadi

    Sat, Oct 09 2010

    @Mario whatever u mentioned above is very very true. Very nicely written article. I feel that this time for CWG, there was so much media hype which initially made us think its gonna be a failure, d same hype has helped to rectify d mistakes. Whatever it is finally CWG is grand success with 58 medals :) Btw, awesome presentation of interesting issue. Keep writing. . . :)

  • Avani, mangalore/uae

    Sat, Oct 09 2010

    For Kalmadi & co purpose is served. First the issues of specific corruption cases in tendering, buying processes came to light. Then the work started slowing up in such a way that everybody started worrying about timely completion. Now the focus was shifted from speciifc curruption issues to unpreparedness. Though people kept on blaming corruption, the main focal point was the "Nation's pride". Military was called, more & more politicians, officials showed up as if they are pushing to complete (which they new they are going to complete). Once the inaugaration was held every body started praising Kalmadi & co and like this when the Nation's pride was kept high the issues of "specific corruptions" took last bench and once the games are over they may be forgotten by everyone you, me, media & everybody. This is what they wanted.

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