CWG Catalyst For Reform?
Much before the Commonwealth Games started the organizational glitches, scandalous corruption and global ridicule were anticipated. It was speculated that worldwide disgrace may shame a new generation of Indians to work actively for reform to cleanse the prevalent stinking political system. The disgrace was partially mitigated by the creditable performance of our athletes—no thanks to official support! But in one sense the performance by the athletes contrasted to the gross mismanagement by politicians has only heightened the huge gap between India’s potential and its performance. Will this make Indians think?
The horrible goof ups erupted at the very start. The leading TV channels had advertized live coverage of the opening. Each channel lined up a team of experts to comment. The experts sat around twiddling thumbs and made embarrassed small talk before it dawned on viewers that agreement between Doordarshan and the private channels had obviously collapsed. So a quick shift to Doordarshan. During the only live coverage available to Indians there were interruptions as advertisements disrupted the telecast. This was unprecedented. When this was pointed out to DD officials a lady in charge threatened action against the reporter by taking him to court for “nitpicking”. Clearly that lady was quite ignorant about law. She justified the ads because they brought DD revenue! So much for adequate preparations.
It transpired that the artists who enthralled the audience with their performances on the opening ere paid a scandalously paltry sum of Rs 1000 each. Another lady in charge justified this with the observation that being given the worldwide platform was reward enough for these artists! Officials hogged credit for the tasks performed by unnamed experts. Two celebrities went public and complained at this treatment. There was no official denial.
The stands remained empty because tickets were destoyed as raddi. Near the fag end of the games tickets were distributed free to fill up the stands with school children. The unhygenic conditions at the Games Village earned disgust and reprimands from foreign athletes and officials alike. Foreign media went to town to administer well deserved ridicule and humiliation to Indian authorities. The negative impression of a country loudly tom-toming its intention to become a world power will remain indelible for a long time to come. All this is beside of course the astronomical corruption in every deal and contract.
But enough! The list of arrogant stupid actions by authority is endless. The humiliation of Indians in general should not be underestimated. A media blitz glorifying the CWG performance may comfort Indians. The global image of a banana republic presuming big power status will endure. Many Indians realize this. They are seething inside.
The question is, will they do anything about it?
There are faint signs of encouragement. Citizen groups across the nation have started colluding with each other and drawn up an Action Plan. It is an ambitious plan that intends to scrutinize and get evaluated by experts every single contract and decision taken by the authorities. An organization, Common Cause, has resolved to take up the issue and fight authority through propaganda, through media, through court actions and public meetings.
This is fine as far as it goes. It doesn’t go far enough.
If such a movement does indeed get under way its participants will quickly learn that nothing short of a democratic revolution that sweeps away this entire ruling class from power will be the only solution. For that, not just the corruption and mismanagement of CWG will need to be exposed. The entire political system needs an agonizing reappraisal to determine why governance is so rotten in India.
The closure of the CWG was on the same day that the scandalous affairs of the Karnataka assembly were reaching a climax. Serious allegations of personal integrity are being levelled against the Governor, the Chief Minister, the Speaker and all the MLAs on both sides of the divide. They are all accused of unconstitutional conduct. This is the class of corrupt purchasable politicians who will now bid for India hosting the World Olympics. Can anything less than a democratic revolution end the rot? I rest my case.
By Rajinder Puri