New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS): Congress MP and former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, the most vocal critic of the just ended Commonwealth Games, still insists India should have never hosted the event.
But he made it clear in an interview to CNN-IBN that his criticism of the Commonwealth Games "has nothing to do with the Indian athlete.
"My criticism has to do with fundamental moral values and national pride. I asked then and I ask the question now: had Mahatma Gandhi been alive, would he have agreed to light the lamp to inaugurate this Games event? The answer is no!
"We are in a country where 47 percent of the children under five years of age suffer from malnutrition because nine out of 10 pregnant woman are suffering from anaemia. We have one of the highest infant mortality rates.
"Yet on this Games, if you take both, the relative expenditure has gone up by four times than the annual budget of the annual rural health mission.
"Is this the way we should use our resources? Secondly, if we do have such resources, why we are not deploying them and providing them sports facilities for our children?"
Aiyar pointed out that 95 percent of Indian children have no access whatsoever to any sports training. "Instead of making a nation of sports persons, we are converting ourselves of into" sports organisers.
Aiyar reiterated that he was not against sports per se -- or athletes.
"My criticism is never ever with India athletes... In this game they have won (medals) not because they are provided with special facilities as a home team.
"They won ... (despite) the incompetence of our sports officials and others connected with the organising committee."
Aiyar said he was not going to criticise anyone by name for the shoddy preparations to the Games that came in for international criticism.
The prime minister "had promised there will be a full and thorough investigation of everything, including the lapses, and the guilty will be awarded punishment.
"Now the games are over and ... (let) the promised investigations begin."
The Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games ended with Australia notching up the most number of medals, followed by India and England.