By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Sep 22 (IANS) The Canadian media tore India apart Tuesday, describing its Commonwealth Games preparations as "a bad joke" on the world and said India was frittering away what could have been its "showcase moment".
"Monsoon rains, a dengue fever epidemic, car bombs, a collapsing pedestrian bridge, corrupt construction rackets, traffic Armageddon, indifferent politicians and a filthy athletes' village that does not even have proper plumbing yet. Or wiring. Or paint on the walls," the National Post wrote Tuesday.
The paper said, "India's showcase moment is at hand. The entire world is watching. But what the entire world is seeing - at least so far - looks more like the travails of a First World wannabe nation still struggling with its lingering Third World problems.''
But amid all this, the paper said, "the good news is, the Indians don't seem to be too worried.
"The organisers have responded to the international outcry with a mere head-scratching, saying that standards of `cleanliness' might differ from other standards of `cleanliness'," the paper said.
Despite all this, it said, India's Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy sounds gung-ho when he tells reporters, "I am not worried at all. I am as confident and as cool as ever about our organising of the Commonwealth Games in a very successful, comfortable way. These are all minor hiccups."
Canada is sending 255 athletes, 51 coaches and 52 support staff for the Games that begin in New Delhi Oct 3.
Narrating how India is failing whereas China and South Africa used the recent mega-sporting events to convey a political message to the world, the paper said, "China's Summer Olympic turn in 2008 flashed an Asian industrial tiger's might while soccer's World Cup cast an incandescent glow over South Africa, revealing a nation packed with human potential too often overlooked or underestimated by the West.
"Now along comes India, another would-be beast of the Far East and suddenly everybody is gnawing on their fingernails wondering if they can actually pull this thing off.
"Ask around and veteran Canadian athletes with experience competing in the country will whisper about the organisational hijinks that, in their experience, typically attend an Indian-run event."
Making fun of India's assurances to provide fool-proof security, the paper described how an Australian journalist managed to get past security with a bomb detonation kit.
"Mike Duffy managed to go past...poured additional gasoline on an already combustible situation by sidling past Delhi police and into the main Commonwealth stadium this week with an oversized suitcase. Inside was a bomb detonation kit."