The Crores Go Blowing In the Wind

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As I watched the reactions to the Commonwealth Games, I was acutely conscious of how fast  the mood of the nation had changed. The same news anchors, who has been asking the nation “Is the Commonwealth Games something that India can afford?” two days ago,  could barely conceal their excited approbation of the event. The same people, who had been circulating stale Kalmadi/Dixit jokes till yesterday and calling for a boycott of the games, were declaring proudly how India had put on an “international” (in the 80s they would have called it “export quality”) event, doing mooh kala to all other nations of the world.

It was this metamorphosis that made me realize, once again, why corruption is eternally such a sunshine industry in this country. It is because public memory, driven by the echo chamber that is the popular press, is as short as two-month old’s attention span, where all that is needed is to “produce a good show” and everyone is happy and everything is forgotten.

Make no mistake, the powers-that-be have pulled off a multi-thousand crore heist, right in front of our eyes. If that was not remarkable enough, they have, in the end, made us stand up in our seats as a nation and applaud as they have rolled out with the bags. Even Danny Ocean of Ocean’s Eleven would be appreciative of this chutzpah.

Of course things had gone bad for the gang in the beginning. The $80 toilet-paper rolls, the $61 soap dispensers, the 30 crores worth of earthen pots, the 9 lacs/rented treadmill,  the 70,000 crore price-tag (many many times over the modest budget on the basis of which the games were bid for), the collapsed bridge, the water-logged venues, the dogs on the beds, the snakes, the overwhelming filth was just too much for the spinmeisters to brush under the carpet. People were enraged—-India was the laughing stock of the world, humara pride puri mitti mein milai diye in logon ne. When, in this context, the administrators tried parroting that line  about pride and about concentrating on positives, they were laughed away.

The main men however were smart. They knew that the public outrage was not so much against corruption but against the monumental incompetence on display, that was making urban “Sabse Aage Honge Hindustani” India squirm. All they had to do was to plaster over the edges, insert toothpaste into the holes in the wall, put a coat of paint and keep harping on the narrative of “national pride” and “positives” and as long as the stuffing did not keep coming out, they would be home safe and snug , with no public pressure for their prosecution.

They were helped by the condescending, openly mocking coverage of the event by the foreign press, many from countries still suffering from a severe colonial hangover, including a doubtful sting operation, which made Indians “close ranks” in a “We will show them” display of brotherhood. And with a spectacular opening ceremony followed by hopefully a major-event-free Games, the CWG game would have gotten away scot-free, so amazingly well as a matter of fact that we may see once again a bid for the Olympics. And why not? After all, this business of  international event-organization is such a marvelously profitable one, backed by tax-payer’s money and protected from scrutiny by the miasma of “national pride”, enabling the administrators to over-run their budget almost infinitely, safe in the knowledge that the government would keep on pouring money into the venture, because pulling the plug would be seen as a collective national defeat.

Some people will call me “negative” and “self-flagellating” for this post at this time of national celebration, which is of course amusing because I am frequently called a hyper-nationalist of the India-shining type. Lest I be misunderstood,  I am fully appreciative of those who worked really hard to make the opening ceremony a success, many of whom honest men and women who had to work doubly hard because of the dishonest ones administering them. I also realize that the organizing of international games promote tourism and provides an impetus for investments in infra-structure —-which is why the original budget on the basis of which the CWG was approved made some sense.

My problem is with the many-times over-budget bloated gargoyle that the CWG has since become. This fact still angers me, despite the excellent opening show, because it has been done on principally the tax-payer’s dime.

As an example, the 40 crore hot-air blimp , beautiful and as lump-in-the-throat-creating as it was, was, I felt, just way way too much to pay for heated air, considering the many urgent demands for 40 crores of rupees that the country has, where an investment of that amount in the health/farming/infrastructure/education/law-enforcement/defense sectors would have gone further in our cause of making India a global power, than the few seconds of feel-good that this forty crores bought. When public money, and of course the scale is important, is justified by “national pride” I find it nothing different than Mayawati’s multi-crore statues and parks which are rationalized as expressions of “Dalit pride”—-a different kind of pride (one which urban India does not feel a connect with) but a “pride” nonetheless.

Some may say—what about IPL? Isnt that a vulgar waste of money? Well, it is private money, spent as an investment with the motive to provide some kind of profit to the investors. Even if it makes a loss, it is Mallaya and Shahrukh Khan’s prerogative how they want to spend their cash and at the very least, they do not have the responsibility to run the nation’s educational, infra-structural, medical and defense institutions. The CWG, driven by tax-payer’s money has absolutely no ROI motive, rationalized by a non-measurable emotional metric, administered by government bureaucrats using non-transparent contracting vehicles—-in short, a throwback to the worst days of Nehruvian Congressi socialism, a way of things that left India in the third rung of nations, a culture that should be our collective historic shame.

Cynics might say that if the blimp had not been made or if the CWG had not taken place, it is not as if the crores would have gone to discharge the government’s primary functions—-they may just have gone to upgrade some VIP’s security cover or to pay for some other boondoggle. Given the nature of institutionalized corruption, this might very well be true.

But still, when I see so much money just being blown away in the wind, people (mostly the urban and the educated) rationalizing the obscene cost of the spectacle by its “beauty”,  men and woman back-slapping themselves at how they managed to “get away”  by manipulating the public, while our law-enforcement agencies go up against Naxalites un-trained and with obsolete equipment, flood relief is  not disbursed because the coffers are empty and the public health infrastructure is allowed to collapse due to lack of government investment, I do not feel proud.

I just feel sad.

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143 thoughts on “The Crores Go Blowing In the Wind

  1. Agreed. Spending nearly 15-18 billion US$ on CWG is preposterous. Not to mention the anguish of a nation which still has Asia’s highest malnourished and starving people. Ticket sales, TV coverage and corporate sponsors will hardly match a 100th of the money spent.

    Lessons have to be learned from the about to be bankrupt cities in US who wanted fame and spent public money, only to realize the huge mistake they had made for grand preparations. China’s 80-200 billion $ extravaganza is also suspect of being worth the effort in the name of national pride.

    as Maggie Thatcher said – Socialism only works until you run out of the people’s money

  2. Do opening ceremonies really count for anything? It seems every major sporting event has an opening and a closing ceremony as if it’s mandatory to have them. Why can’t it be enough to just stage the various sporting competitions?

    Oh and spot on about how the mood of the twitterati underwent a collective change. Thankfully there was the Ryder Cup to keep me busy while Kalmadi & Co. laughed their way to the banks of some of the nations participating in these games.

  3. This is one subject you have been off the ball for quite some time I love your thread you are almost always correct in your analysis..70k crores is not the budget of CWG can Metro, Airport connecting transit, IGI T3, flyovers and connectors be included in CWG budget??…you be the judge man as far as I know Many of your observations are valid but many have been grossly misrepresented by the media.Arnab I sincerely pray to you to check out the Commonwelath Games thread at skyscrapercity website(In the Indian subforum International one is routinely vandalized by Aussie morons) You will see first hand account from many hardworking volunteer team leaders who are also engaged in a professional capacity in building the Formula 1 racetrack..Yes I will concede that things would have been much much better if CWG were to be handled by Provate firms like WC2011 and F1 2011…But coming back to the main point,take a look around in ssc (which is unarguably the most knowledge filled thread as far as India’s cwg prep and infra and skyscraper prep is concerned) Anyways I hope tonight all Indians enjoyed the spectacular opening ceremony Donot worry Kalmadi will still be toast after the CWG and Good Luck India and I kiss the feet of those thousands of labourers who toiled day and night to make this possible

  4. Arnab,I hope you give a nice rebuttal to this..Your opinion counts a lot in the blogosphere

    And India was made to stay in some rundown Uni hostel at Melbourne and Manchester…And as many pointed out and surely many here will agree India’s Opening Ceremony(OC) was just more fun filled and welcoming and cheerful than Beijing OC where it was kind a showcase to intimidate the world that hey we are rising and coming listen to our war drums..I almost got an epileptic fit when they zoomed in on those lighting drums in 08…One thing I also like that less fireworks meaning greener Games Okay all the very best to our construction workers hope they are looked after and our atheletes and especially Vijender Singh who said “I am the best therefore I donot suffer from stress” That’s Muhammad Ali material budding in there..also World Champion Sushil Kumar but irritated a heck of a lot Indians today by chewing bubblegum while carrying the torch That was way callous from him there is a fine line between cheeky and callous

  5. Well, I don’t think the CWG should be singled out as an example. There is plenty of pissing away of taxpayer’s cash on even “useful” things.

    Just want to add that corruption isn’t because of anything in the character of Indians or lack of patriotism, rather because of our socialist/communist economic policy. This policy has led to a gigantic State with commissions and license rajs to oversee everything, because the Left is all about government control and public sector monopoly.

    What incentive do these people have to do anything useful? Their job doesn’t depend on it unlike in the private sector. In fact the worse they do their job (overrunning budgets etc.) the more they can claim taxpayer money to do their job better.

    The only solution is disinvestment. Anything the government touches eventually turns to sh1t.

  6. Hi Arnab,

    Nice post and I truly agree with your perspective.

    First of all we all will agree that CWG opening was great spectacle but it was all hard work of creative team.(Bharat bala and shyam benegal).It should not give us any excuse to let go Suresh kalmadi and his cronies.They should be sacked and brought to books.And our memeories are too short.Till yesterday everyone was criticizing CWG and just a opening ceremony has changed perspective of everyone around.And even rajdeep sardesai whose channel was critical of CWG.His stance was totally changed today.He tweeted CWG opening ceremony as Revenge of Kalamadi.This shows how shot lived memories of media are and how they want to play along with public mood swings!!!!!

  7. The most surprising comment for me came from Rajdeep Sardesai – the self-styled guardian of all things Indian and editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN. He wrote on Twitter that the opening ceremony was “Kalmadi’s Revenge”. So now Kalmadi has gone from zero to hero in a matter of two and half hours!!

  8. Good writeup. I truely agree with you that because of this event people will forget all those crores which actually went down the drain! But this more than anyone was an Indian event so we should support it and then toast it. Unless the ruling party has other plans and uses the money to fund any coming elections or even bid for the olympics so they are forever in the ruling party.

    kalmadi should be roasted. Times up

  9. @Shas The video you posted is annoying. But do you care? Thats from a country which cannot even be located on the MAP.

  10. Hi Greatbong,

    Completely agree with you… While we must appreciate the hard work of so many people to make the CWG opening ceremony a success, we mustn’t forget Kalmadi’s pockets are filled with crores from the games…

    But please dont feel sad.. ‘coz I dont think people have forgotten.. I watched the ceremony Live on TV and heard the crowd booing for Kalmadi.. please read news piece in link http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/114944/Sports/boos,-jeers-for-kalmadi,-cheers-for-kalam-at-cwg-inaugural.html

  11. Exactly my viewpoint. It was good to see the opening ceremony in all its shine and glamour but what was so big deal about an opening ceremony, every sporting event has one. And at what cost?
    It was sad to see barkha dutts and rajdeep sardesais suddenly going all pro- common wealth game and even going as far as saying that Sheila Dixit’s and Kamladai’s sins were washed away with this spectacular ceremony !!! really?
    You swindle off 70000 crore and even a poor country like Nauru would have come up with such ceremonies.
    Its just public loot by kalmadi, dixit, and I would even include MMS ( via sonia gandhi of course).
    I dont know if they would ever be punished. People are so used to see corruption in everyday aspects of life that even this open loot will be pardoned and forgotten.
    Shame !!

  12. agree wholeheartedly. i am not holding my breath for any actions against these corrupt. can’t single out the CWG bigwigs alone. We are all corrupt. Is Hamam me sab nangey.

  13. Valid points, I think. Let’s stay together till the games end and cheer the players and the organizers. Its time to ponder and raise voices again once the games are over. We will surely have a mess to cleanup anyway.

  14. Isn’t that why I like your blogs…? This is exactly what I was thinking… I feel ashamed that my city sent Mr. K to LS despite another failre called CYG last year.

  15. So the ceremony was great. Big deal. The way CWG guys have played this is brilliant – they’ve set expectations so low, that anything that looks like good work makes people think “Aal izz well”. In reality, this is just lipstick on a pig.

    If the games are anything better than a miserable failure, you can bet that people will easily forget they’ve been conned out of 70,000 crores to deliver infrastructure that’s crumbling even before the event begins. That’s unfortunately how it is here.

  16. I will just look the other way and pretend what ever you said is not true. 😀

    I must add something ….there will always be poor people, hungry people, people who are oppressed… but then they are people (like me) who need the grand gala openings like this to chest thump in front of the Chinese who are going gaga over the olympics.

    The games after they finish should be investigated by the CBI, the corrupt should be caught and well you know then let go by CBI (Congress bureau of investigation)
    😀
    That is how we roll baby

  17. Thanks for your article Arnab…But by your argument South Africa also shouldnot have hosted WC which by even any layman’s observation beset with much much more massive problems of 25 percent HIV infection,surreal levels of corruption, gut churning levels of violence…They could have used the money to provide research aid into AIDS right?? But see the pride with which South Africans conduct themselves and reard themselves as the leader and pied piper of Africa because of them being the only country in Africa to host a FIFA WC/Olympics….Sometimes events like these just counts…You know the top 5-6 periodical sporting events in the world
    (
    Olympics,Fifa WC,Cricket World Cup,Asian Games,Commonwealth and Rugby World Cup)
    are treated by bidding countries the way Formula 1 and MotoGP Racing is treated by Car and Bike companies…

    Given your background I guess you would be the first person to agree that carbon fibre monococqued,800 horsepower engined, GPS traction controlled ground bound jet fighters called F1 cars have little or anything to contribute to modern auto indutry…then why do the manufacturers still burn 300-400 million dollars every year which could very well have been distributed among share holders as dividend?

    The image payoff is just insanely immense….

    Same thing with hosting any of the top periodical 5-6 sporting events of the world for the respective bidding countries

  18. I was happy for the guys who performed very well and who I bet slogged very hard even before the controversies broke out. I was happy for sports-people who got a sense of pride in a cricket loving nation.
    The corruption is so ingrained in India that the money would have siphoned off in name of education, govt schemes or some political voting gimmick. I am glad this time it was siphoned of in the name of non-cricket playing sports-people. At least they got an upgrade of facilities if not anything else.
    I do not approve that corrupt people should go unpunished but I would hate if the money was spent on rice @2Rs / Kg, free TV, cycles just before the election blackout. My tax money spent in my city for a change was welcome if I were to take a very selfish view of the whole situation. I also wish something very bad happens to the corrupt politicians – through the judiciary or otherwise. It should only be quick and satisfying.
    -mohit

  19. Public memory is short term,agreed, people in my office were talking about last night’s opening show, rather than than the ‘heist’. Is it such a bad thing to do that? At a time when we tend to run out of reasons to be proud about our cities, communities and the country, is it such a bad thing that people talk about the opening show with some pride.

    In India, we have always felt it necessary to celebrate even if we can ill afford to do that. But thats one of the things that makes us what we are. Our weddings need to have band baja, diwali means noise and new clothes, even slums deck up for Ganpati in Mumbai. Don’t you think people make money organising these functions also, but then they go on and on every year.

    Every year our Durga Puja associations were plagued with accusations and rumours of funds being diverted by committee members. We will continue talking about that, but we will still look forward to the pujo pandal?

  20. Pingback: Global Voices in English » India: Showing Off With Tax Payers Money

  21. Too simplistic. Appreciating the opening ceremony doesn’t have to mean the organisers shouldn’t be held accountable if they are guilty. But of course, our media can only look at things as black and white. Opening ceremony was successful, hence the organisers are not guilty. The court said land is to be divided equally between Hindus and Muslims, hence the 1992 demolition was fine. Hopefully, our govt agencies and courts don’t work on such simplistic lines.

  22. Truly amazed at the fact that most ppl believe it is Kalmadi who is the biggest “paisa khaoo”… I think the troika Dixit, Gill, & Reddy had a lot more money going through their respective ministries… Sure Kalmadi is no lamb, but I think these 3 are the big bad wolves…

  23. Hold your horses GB. The games have not yet started; so there is still ‘hope’ that the games would stink (Prabhuji ki kripa).
    The problem is all across (Kalmadi/Diskhit are the faces (culprits as well,mind you); but the bureaucrats are largely getting away with it.

    Don’t you think a consortium of construction firms with a track record could have pulled it off? (L&T; et al)

    Dude, and you didn’t see the Indian media turnaround coming?

  24. I think we should separate delivery and method of delivery.
    The product which was delivered was awesome. But I agree with you that I felt
    that Kalmadi and other cohorts have commited a massive din dahade loot and should be tried for it.

  25. Nicely written.
    But I am still at a loss to understand the obsession with a colonial slave legacy like CGG. Both BJP and CONgress are all love for it?

  26. Honestly i don’t understand why we need the CWG in the 1st place. Unlike the Olympics it does not cater to the whole World, unlike the World Cup Football/Hockey or Cricket its not about excellence in a particular sport, nor unlike the Grand Slams, does it celebrate individual excellence in Tennis. So what does it stand for?

  27. I just cannot bring myself to believe that everybody has missed out on the fact that Kalmadi is a humble servant of the humble gandhi parivar.Blaming him in this situation is like the police getting to arrest the family “driver” for an accident actually caused by the son.
    Were Soniaji and Rahulji sipping on pineapple juice while Kalmadi was busy shipping gold bricks out the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium ? I guess not, i guess they knew what Suresh Kalmadi was upto.How much would he have made ? 5% ? And the other 95% ? Take a guess..
    Gandhi Parivar’s investments abroad are estimated at 40 lakh crores (unverified claim), the leading Swiss Magazine Schweizer Illustrierte exposed Rahulji’s account with some 10000 crores in it, way back in 1991.and this is just one account.and being the sheep we are , we continue to hang scapegoats and fallguys only to go back to kiss the lotus feet of soniaji and shri rahulji, our future prime minister.pasted below, is the wikipedia article on rahuljis naughtiness, a little like krishna he is , very adorable and naughty

    Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte [2] in 11 November 1991 revealed that Rahul was the beneficiary of accounts worth $2 billion dollars controlled by his mother Sonia Gandhi.[38][39]
    Harvard scholar Yevgenia Albats cited KGB correspondence about payments to Rajiv Gandhi and his family, which had been arranged by Viktor Chebrikov,[40][41][42] which shows that KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov sought in writing an “authorization to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi” from the CPSU in December 1985. Payments were authorized by a resolution, CPSU/CC/No 11228/3 dated 20/12/1985; and endorsed by the USSR Council of Ministers in Directive No 2633/Rs dated 20/12/1985. These payments had been coming since 1971, as payments received by Sonia Gandhi’s family and “have been audited in CPSU/CC resolution No 11187/22 OP dated 10/12/1984.[40] In 1992 the media confronted the Russian government with the Albats disclosure. The Russian government confirmed the veracity of the disclosure and defended it as necessary for “Soviet ideological interest.”[41][42]
    On 14 June 2002, the Delhi High Court peremptorily dismissed a Writ Petition (WP(C) 3856/2002)[43][verification needed] filed by Janata Party President, former Union Minister Dr. Subramanian Swamy[44][verification needed] seeking CBI inquiry into allegations by a Russian journalist Dr. Albats that KGB funds were paid to members of the Gandhi family.[citation needed

  28. I think- if we are doing something- it better be very well done. I am visiting Delhi after 10 months and the difference is “visible”. infrastructure has improved leaps and bounds. Socialistic stance would questing spending money on infrastructure- but even the poorest families would decorate their home during a festival or special occasions.
    If we had put up a poor show- critics and western media would have torn us apart and stated Indians can not organize. I think a section wanted/ still wants (sadly) the games to fail…
    While I support the crusade against corruption, I consider that is a separate issue needs to be looked at a holistic level.

  29. I think- if we are doing something- it better be very well done. I am visiting Delhi after 10 months and the difference is “visible”. infrastructure has improved leaps and bounds. Socialistic stance would questing spending money on infrastructure- but even the poorest families would decorate their home during a festival or special occasions.
    If we had put up a poor show- critics and western media would have torn us apart and stated Indians can not organize. I think a section wanted/ still wants (sadly) the games to fail…
    While I support the crusade against corruption, I consider that is a separate issue needs to be looked at a holistic level.

  30. good one.
    Though, I have doubts India will ever host anything close to olympics anytime soon. The reason may sound strange, but these games are all about..believe it or not…prostitution. Or may be I am not exactly mr. current affairs when it comes to prostitution in India. If you have reasonably cheap but decent enough hotels in a city that can host upto 10000 pros(I am not talking about sonagaachhi or kamatipura, but the kinds that travel every year or two to another continent for a couple of months to take care of business) you have a chance to host either olympics or soccer world cup. That’s the reason why what china can, india can not, while south africa still can, to add to the confusion to the proud chatni/sambhar/samosa eating chest thumping and gas burping desis. We are still debating whether alcohol should be made legal in Gujarat. Your generation does not know what Iksath-Baasath means. Though it has mastered the art of it pretty well. It is time to graduate to the next level. It is called chodah-pandrah-solah.

  31. I remember being obsessed with Gandhi family during my teenage..and went into depression for a week when Priyanka got married !

  32. From this post I gather that the sudden change of attitude pains you because the faults of the people who created the mess will be swept under the carpet *more easily*. But it is just that-more easily. The entire CWG fiasco is a symptom of a far greater malaise that impacts every micro/macrocosm that exist in India. Indians would still have found a way to carry on with their lives had this thing (and it still can) fallen apart completely. For us to use CWG as a poster child of Indian corruption would guarantee a global embarrassment but does not guarantee a fix. We should find other things for that purpose (and I am sure there are plenty) and not let even a part of us hope for failure of CWG.

  33. @GB and Shriniwas: I don’t get the tangential digs at socialism in your posts. What has capitalism / communism / socialism got to do with any of this? Virtually all countries of the world organise and play such games – from laissez faire HongKong to communist USSR and state-controlled China

    Are you saying that entrepreneurs are any less corrupt or greedy than the babus and politicians? Who are the people who paid off the corrupt CWG organisers to get their contracts?

    Incidentally, the names of private organisations involved in the construction has not come out much. Compared to Kalmadi, Sheila Dixit, Jaipal Reddy and Gill, how often have people heard Emaar-MGF (the main builder of the village)? Possibly this is evidence of even more corruption – this time between the private contractors’ PR and the media…

  34. I find this argument: ‘why are we spending on xyz when there are abc poor people’ tiresome.

    The real fight is against corruption, not against spending money per se. After all, most of this money finally goes to pay the people who actually work on the field – including labourers and small contractors. And as long as substantial infra is being improved in the process, what is the problem?

    Is tax-payer money only for handouts of cash to the below-poverty-line (where there is even more corruption, as per Rajiv Gandhi’s famous 15paise observation)? I think this comes from a confusion between being a poor country and being short of cash as a country.

    Being short of cash is very different from being a poor country. Look at the rich nations of Western Europe and US who are having a nightmare balancing their budget and deficit. That is shortage of cash. China has a current account surplus and the largest forex reserves; yet it remains one of the poorer nations.

  35. I agree with you. I’m happy that the opening ceremony went well and also that Delhi is looking fabulous now, but it still hurts to think that at least some of the colossal amount could’ve been diverted to more basic causes such as food, clothing and shelter for the underprivileged.

    …but then they are people (like me) who need the grand gala openings like this to chest thump in front of the Chinese who are going gaga over the olympics.

    I can totally sympathize with this sentiment as I’ve suffered racist comments from Chinese people too.

  36. Arnab, my thoughts exactly…have being having this same argument with a couple of friends on Facebook who think its ‘cheers’ for kalmadi and he finally got back…wtf ! for 2.5 hours of song and dance, you are ready to forgive the millions,billions & trillions the OC has gulped down of the tax payer’s money ? Indians have amnesia, especially when it comes to Corruption & politicians..

  37. SPot on!!!it’s the Ghajini way in India-seething anger against the villains for 15 mins…then blank…the country is being raped raw by those supposed to protect it….

  38. Well written mate. 112 % correct. Good on you mate. People who dont like it . Go to the @bdutt @sardesairajdeep and start following Hippocrates like em.

    In my opinion the first thing india needs to change is (24 x 7 ) news channels.
    Honestly if these morons are taken care off India will eventually deal with issues like corruption nutrition etc etc etc.

    Cheers

  39. @gagri / Tejaswy

    Well, we are ending up destroying tax payers money so that some of us can do some chest thumping in front of Chinese (most likely trolls).

  40. Quite simply, every country is a brand and it needs to be marketed not just to the foreigners, but to the citizens themselves. The intangible benefits of a dazzling CWG opening ceremony or for that matter even a spectacularly choreographed Republic day parade is actually quite immense, that is the sort of razzmatazz which not just goes a long way in making the average Indian believe in the “strength/power” of his country but kind of validates the concept of a united India (even when there are a lot of things going not so good in his daily life).

    Feelings of patriotism are triggered best by such positive images and that’s why a good PR machinery is important for every country.(I remember the story abt Subash Chandra Bose choreographing his rallies and events to make it as dazzling just like the German Nazi military shows). As you rightly put it, had the blimp not been made or if the CWG had not taken place, the crores would not have gone to discharge the government’s primary functions—-they would have gone to upgrade some VIP’s security cover!! At least this did result in Delhi getting some serious infrastructure! Businesswise India putting up a good show will be good, kind of sending the message that even the much maligned Indian govt has the capacity to get things done and can be trusted enough for doing business with. Like a semi-impoverished South Africa who built fancy stadiums and put up a great showcase of their rainbow country I think India too will gain from the games, the stories of corruption and bad-press not-withstanding..

  41. Perfectly articulated!! Just perfect. This line ‘honest men and women who had to work doubly hard because of the dishonest ones administering them’ sort of summarised my primary opinion. I loved the CWG Opening Ceremony. I really thought it was Awesome. But we have to understand that the people responsible for the spectacular show are so different from those who have been manipulating our coffers. The common man/woman, the behind-the-scene technicians.. those who worked at the grass-root level to make this show such a huge success, are the ones who have truly made us proud, in front of the world. The likes of Kalmadi and his croonies should be shot to death. They are far worse than terrorists. Atleast terrorists are selfless, they have a goal. Kalmadi and almost every Indian politician are just selfish, greedy bas****s, who have shamed us as a country. And as for Indian media, I’d just say, screw them!!! For the grand finale, I hope they have a public hanging of Kalmadi, Barkha and the Hon’ble Pratibha Patil, who gleefully announced ‘Let the games begin’!

  42. As for the helium balloon, I didn’t know it costed that much. Despite that, however, I feel we as a country never know our priorities. We spend crores on useless stuff, and ensure our poorest remain just that. So, if that’s the case anyway, then we might as well put up a spectacular show, rather than allow our dear politicians fill their pockets with the 40 crores?!!!

  43. You lost me when you said the 40 crore aerostat was money not well spent. If the total games budget spiralled to 70,000 crore, then that 40 crore investment was probably the best value for money thing we could have done. I agree with the rest of your post about public memory, corruption, and the desire that we learn from the mistakes of this event (which somehow seems a vain hope).

  44. You could have given 1 lakh scholarship to 1 lakh students every year for 70 years with the money they spent on CWG. Imagine the effect this stimulus would have brought to the knowledge economy that India is.

  45. Hahaha…this was exactly as I predicted!! One night in Toronto, during a discussion of the fiasco I said..have you seen ‘Well done Abba’ ? Just like they dug a 100 wells in 1 night after the whip…everything will be cleaned up in Delhi overnight….and then no one will remember that that the 1 night of cleanup is just pocket change for those who made off with a few crore each.

  46. The most amazing aspect of the article is possibly the controlled emotion and the plethora of facts this article has relied upon. It touched me where it had intended to, and I hope this is applicable to many others.

    Thanks mate.

  47. When I read about the 70,000 crore figure in the newspaper the other day, it took me a minute to compute the number of zeroes that figure has. I mean, its a HUGE amount! just imagine what can be done with this much amount. What India needs is not prove to the world that they are a top notch nation by hosting such huge magnitude games, but to “become” one. I feel the solution that this can happen is we as public ‘actively’ oppose all the corruption and wastage of tax payers’ money. ( i call is wastage because in this time and age, India will do better if it directs the money towards investments ). I just hope peoples’ memory is not so short lived this time. I just hope.

  48. What’s wrong? We have rightly showcased our culture. I mean the big laughing gas balloon projected by images of thieves for you to look at and laugh at. Then there were the “spineless and no feet of their own to stand on” puppets that we are and dancing gaily in the sudden pittance given to us after keeping us many days in hunger. Only thing missing was the “country” dog who dared to get on the athlete’s bed and shit. He was nowhere to be seen. I hope he was not washed away in the yamuna floods. He made us all proud. We should have honoured him on this day for getting the entire world’s attention on us and highlighting our kind of standards.

  49. i do need to appreciate your writing but i have to differ with your argument.

    many of us tend to mix money spent like this with the poverty in the country. I Would argue that they are different. The thought of need to eliminate poverty should be burning day in and day out not just on the day of the common wealth sport ceremony. To draw a parallel, would you spend less on your wedding just because your fellow citizens dont get to eat one meal a day. Instead, if you donate a part of ur salary, u do some volunteering, or you provide emplyment to few of them at ur wedding or at your business, the is a positive way of making change.

    So my dear friend, events like this should be used to show the glory and power of the country, the money if properly spend will create employment, infrastructure for ages. So, these types of games and ceremonies are required only if the money is spent in a non-corrupt way…

    UK , US, China have people who live in similar conditions of poverty as that in india though in lesser proportions, that doesnt mean they are not spending money on events like this… it is events like these that spurred consumers ultimately resulting in a thriving market for every one to excel…

    anyways, your writing is lucid and makes a good reading though

  50. @Butchi,

    To draw a parallel, would you spend less on your wedding just because your fellow citizens dont get to eat one meal a day

    No I wouldnt. Because I am not responsible for the welfare of my fellow citizens in the same way that the government is. I earned my money and own it. The government does not own the money it has. It is merely given to it as a trust by you and me to use for the general welfare of all. My point is that there are much more urgent and immediate pulls on this common corpus of funds than a 40 crore balloon.

  51. First things first, I think the games should not have been organized in the first place. There is absolutely no explanation (financial, political, social or otherwise) for India to host CWG or any sort of an international sporting event altogether. Neither am i talking about the delay nor the corruption. Neither the International Shame that has been bestowed upon us by the Dog Poo in the apartment Nor the Falling Cross Over Bridges. I am just asking a simple Question about Priorities. Why did we have to organize these games?

    IF we are trying to promote a ‘sporting’ culture and ‘Healthy Living’ then can anybody tell me How many of Delhiites have actually visited Indira Gandhi, National, Jawahar Lal or any other stadium in the past 10 years!!! If you want people to take up sports, then build small sports complexes all over the city, where people can play with their families, Kids can take tennis/swimming lessons and we may have a healthier/sporty generation to follow.

    If we wanted to ‘show the world’ that we had the caliber to pull off a ‘Beijing’. Who are we trying to show off to? The commonwealth nations are british ex-colonies most of which (economics wise) do not have anything to boast of anyways. Only Canada and UK have a GDP higher than us anyways. What would it serve to host events for countries to show off our prowess to, who anyways are struggling their economic existence. If you have money to spend, then send that money to the African nations where people are fighting AIDS and actually need that money to save those lives.

    If we wanted to build better infrastructure for the urban city dwellers, then Did we have to organize this ‘Show Off’ for 15 days and spend billions of hard earned money of the tax payer (especially when majority of tax receipts comes not from the builders/contractors/businessmen who don’t file their tax returns but from a freaking salaried guy who gets his salary in his bank account and the Tax is already deducted at source, lest he indulges in any tax evasion)? Why not make things better for THAT guy? As a representative of THAT guy and being an ‘urban delhiite’, I care more about 15 mins reduction in my travel time to work and back without any traffic jams rather than a freaking stadium eating up energy in those floodlights which will be used for 15 days. When the whole locality is sitting in dark, because THEIR electricity has been provided to that stadium nearby, which they will never be able to even enter if they wanted to.

    Let’s get real guys. The fact is: we are laggards in almost every sport in the world. The only game we play or are ‘reallly’ bothered about is cricket. A Game that is played by 10 nations in the world, 5 of them in South Asia where more than 60%(i guess) population lives in rural areas. How many of us would actually know who won the maximum number of golds in last CWG or who is the world champion in Discuss Throw, Shotput, long jump, high jump, badminton, archery etc etc etc.

    There is no shame, but just that we are not bothered about these sports (as of yet). So what do we do? Do we just ignore the people who play these games in India ? Absolutely Not. But Have we organized CWG for THEM or in belief, that people will start participating in these games, once they have seen these sports themselves in stadiums? I don’t think so. Give the hockey team players the money that is promised to them, so that the millions of children who were thinking of joining the game, do not turn away thinking ‘Khana kahaa se kahunga?’ If you actually care about these sports/sports persons then give the bloody money to the sports authorities/bodies for training/coaches/nutrition and build up a redressal mechanism so that you can ‘know’ if the money is reaching them

    Also, for all those who are thinking that the delay has been caused due to babu giri or red tapism. Think again. If we sleep for 4 years after the games are allotted to us and start working at the 11th hour, as i see it, i think its all intentional. The delay was not caused we are lazy people, but because we wanted it to get delayed. Panic infuses a sense of ‘Lets just get it done at ANY cost’. When you stop bothering about the price, you just want to get it done. May be that can explain the high prices at which materials/equipment was sourced. But hey, i don’t even want to talk about the corruption in this post. Even if you forget the corruption/international shame due to delays etc for one bit, where does it make sense to build these stadiums in the first place.

    For the ‘urban’ types who are singing song of ‘Infrastructural Developments’ DUE to CWG. I ask this. What if the CWG was not to be organized in Delhi. Would the government waited till the olympics to provide us with the Delhi Metro or the flyovers or better roads or better lighting etc etc. Are these happening only because CWG are being organized in Delhi? If No, then why organize it. IfYes, then its an even shameful situation that we need to have an international gaming event and the ‘sharam’ that tourists will come and see our city as being dirty, so let’s clean up and build some roads.

    We got a Country where 60% population doesn’t have food, electricity, water, irrigation, roads, transport, infrastructure in the rural areas and we decide to spend all of 30,000 Crores on building stadiums and purchasing toilet paper for Rs 4000 per roll !! What boost is this money gonna give to the rural development in the country. How are these games going to change anything for the farmers/laborers committing suicides everyday. How are these going to do anything for anybody i dont understand.

    For those, who are sharing pretty pictures of the ‘world class stadiums’ built for the CWG because we should concentrate on ‘the positive’ and rubbish the ‘negativity’ spread by the Indian Media, I have a question. Why the hell media shouldn’t? Isn’t this what the media is for? Its not a makeup artist who would hide your acne through thick layers of make up. Its their job to show what’s hidden? Who would have known of this corruption, if the media hadn’t shown? Would the PM intervened if it was reported that its all ‘hunky dorry’ and India is ‘shining’.

    For those who have this ‘Chalo yaar, ho gaya jo hona sa. Ab kam se kam Duniya ko toh apna gandh na dikhao’ attitude and are ‘proud’ of the fact that we are hosting the games. I think this is why we suffer. If a Kid steals and the mom-dad hide him, he will do it again. I hope the ‘kids’ running our government bodies learn their lesson through this negative publicity and think thousand times before organizing olympics in the next 100 years

  52. Hi GB,

    Though excerpts of your opinion seem quite true, the time to ponder and be cynical about whats happenning has gone. Mr. Kalmadi still remains a “BULLA” who did every thing khullam khulla and alas there were no Shankars to stop him. The point is the local public faced a lot of issues amidst these CW games. Having said that I firmly believe they should have every right to enjoy and part of exuberance all around.

    I truly believe once we are done with CWG, we should punish the corrupted once the same way what CHutiya in GUNDA received.

    Nice post anyways.

  53. Great set of points…my thoughts too when I saw the dozens of congratulatory messages on facebook. One point of disagreement: on economic grounds, even the initial estimate of expenditure does not make sense. The reason is simple: if the investments in infrastructure were necessary (as they are) they are justified even without a one month faux-pride extravaganza. The CW Games do not change the economics. Bastiat’s great set of essays makes the point better than I can(http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html#Chapter%201) .

  54. GB,
    Pretty excellent right up!! Sad, indeed.
    But I expected something else too. Why did you not question the need for a common wealth!!! Whose wealth and what common purpose is it serving? Why did we need it? Who gains from it? This games is another massive opportunity for our half-educated netas to loot us and if we have an iota of self-respect left, we should force the political groups to ban the hosting of any gigantic international event for at least next 5 decades or until we have a budget surplus and no child goes hungry.

  55. I think this post focuses on 2 issues:

    1. The volatility of public opinion in India

    A long time back, I used to be very proud of India (and Bombay in particular) that people would always come out and help in case of an emergency like rains or blasts- but then a comment on my blog made me think otherwise

    http://harshits.blogspot.com/2006/07/yeh-hai-bombay-meri-jaan.html?showComment=1153044900000#c115304495855059462

    Will we always continue to remain proud of how we got out of a real bad situation and praise the spirit of the city for the same? Should we be proud that the CWG games went on well and preparations were done in record time ?
    Should we praise our army men for getting us out of trouble once again or should we actually try to investigate why they needed to be called at the first place (and why did the people who were supposed to do it, not do it?)

    2. The second is an issue- which I am not quite sure of. On one hand, spending billions on a sport event at the compromise of education/poverty seems to be a bad one. It however, might have been a good boost for India’s image on the world scene (of course, if it was done with a little more heart :)) . Though I think your point is justified, it just might have been a big boost to a lot of athletes and sportspeople around the country. And if it was done with proper planning and no corruption, it would have probably been more economical 😀 .

  56. @ HP
    “This is like a guy showing off in a new BMW after paying the price of a ferrari.”

    Isnt that always the case under Kangress.

  57. Yes Kangress is corrupt. BJP is the knight in shining saffron chaddis even though they may be seen on camera asking for money in dollars. Oh I forgot. That was Kangressi video-editing.

  58. this post needs to be given to every neta/babu who has responsibility over spending of Govt funds!! The money is not growing on trees and for India to waste billions on a feel good moment is criminal!! Leave alone the corruption of $ 80 toilet rolls et al – the very fact that India with its multifarious problems should think of pouring $ 16 billion on such a event when that amount surely could do wonders whether put into the social sector like health and education or on infrastructure.
    We heard all the arguments when Asiad 82 was held but there was no great outpouring of sporting prowess after that. The organizers of CWG need to be held to account – the success or otherwise of the games does not absolve them. Since govt funds have been used, a full audit needs to be done and proper follow up done of the results.
    But I am not holding my breath for this to happen!!

  59. totally agree with greatbong.

    what the public should do is a complete boycott of the games.
    or else we will face an even bigger loot if we get to host the olympic ceremony.

    and interestingly Chetan Bhagat had written quite a good article on this a few weeks back. I quite liked that article , even though I don’t approve of his books and his comments on Gunda.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-toi/all-that-matters/Please-dont-cheer-the-2010-loot-fest/articleshow/6453682.cms

  60. Looting by politicians is so common that the we have come to expect it. Holding the powers that be accountable is a hard task… maybe starting a company that does this (and gets its profit out of nailing the bad guys and their accounts) will be a solution.
    My gripe is with the media coverage. I was listening to some bloke from NDTV giving news-bits on NPR last week. He was militantly excited reporting the poor job that was being done for the CWG. Every sentence coming from him ended on a high-pitched dramatic note. Maybe it has to do with their assumption that the their listeners have a small attention span and need dramatic masala news all the time. I recently watched an Indian News Channel, and for the first few minutes I thought it was spoof-news like the Daily Show. News has become entertainment. The need to resonate with the their listeners has been taken to an extreme… resulting in the channels themselves having a short attention/memory span.

  61. @GB: “No I wouldnt. Because I am not responsible for the welfare of my fellow citizens in the same way that the government is. I earned my money and own it”

    Huh… I dont get this distinction. Ok, you are saying there is public money and private money. But two things:
    1. The Government is not different from us citizens, especially in a democracy. It is ‘people like us’ who become politicians or bureaucrats to run the Government
    2. The money you have ‘earned’ and you ‘own’ is derived from this same society and social pool. In that sense, responsibility for welfare of fellow citizens is not charity, but a duty. Its fashionable and convenient to blame Government for poverty and corruption in the country, but the blame is shared among us as well.

  62. tell me something GB, don’t you appreciate the Delhi/ Mumbai Airport, Pune Mumbai Expressway or for that matter the metro in Kolkata. Have you ever comprehended the magnitude of cost escalation in case of the Kolkata metro

    You would be naive in thinking that there was no corruption in those projects.

    As far as the utility of the opening show is concerned- i think it serves the same purpose that the republic day parade serves- instilling pride in your motherland- at least I felt proud watching the show

    (by the way there are pay offs in procurement of military armamements too- should we stop using the bofors-howitzers then)

  63. I am not condoning corruption in organising CWG, but I am just urging you to consider that appreciating the end product is a legitimate point of view, and it does not mean that the heist is successful (it would be successful if and when the corruption charges against Kalmadi are not pursued)

  64. The commonwealth games are just a symptom. The biggest problem is social acceptance of corruption in our society it is now so ingrained in the social fabric that honesty is seen as a aberration rather than the norm. Which is the saddest part.

  65. well, would it have been better if nothing had been done?
    I didnt hear all this protest when india first accepted to host the CWG. Also, this is not the only waste-if you compare to feeding and clothing hungry people any other program is a waste. How would you want to deal with this in the future? Should india have space research? Should india produce test tube babies when babies are lying uncared for?

  66. @GB
    I think that your sentiments are right on spot but the conclusions are a bit off-the-mark.
    It’s been our collective failure in having a very bad ‘public memory’ – as you said “shorter than a 2-month old’s”. But his time around, with all the hard-hitting(?) outcry, let’s hope that some proper action is taken against the plunderers! However, this shouldn’t in any way make us abhor the event itself (no, you might not have said that – but that’s the conclusion many seem to take). While we sometimes have a false sense of pride, it does not mean that being proud is mutually exclusive from being sad looking at the state of affairs.

    Moreover, why do people want to boycott the games coz of what the kalmadi’s have done? As we all agree, there some sort of corruption in every aspect in our daily life. The folks who call for this boycott should probably stop using the roads coz its a sort of accepted fact that there the phrase ‘civil construction’ has 4 C’s – the 4th being the unknown but the obvious one.

  67. I think at this time we should all be cheering for India’s pride and those who don’t…do not deserve to be called Indians. If you really want to do something about this corruptions start at the very basics…STOP BRIBING GOVT OFFICIALS TO GET YOUR ARSE OUT OF THE QUEUES FASTER.

    With all the corruption if India can still manage such great spectacles…I’M PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN!

  68. Very well written. Thought when the issue came up India had problem with the incompetence not the corruption … Now we can digest both. This attitude shall help us in other Major Sport Events!

    Way to go Kalmadi and Company.

    I feel sad looking at my salary slip and thinking that some of the TDS money is in Kalmadi’s bank account and he will use it to print the pamphlets in next election to hand it out to me in Pune.

  69. You are not able to digest, cos you have been mentally tuned by the media to have a negative image, which is what they have been showing right from the beginning. They have never showed the other side, which is what shld matters. Money, yes dwindled, looted largely, but the fact is thanks to media, its our country’s image and the lovely ppl’s image which is gone and not off the stake holders who are involved. Ideally had the media promoted the games rite from the beginning w/o any adverse promotions, India which already is, could have been a better destination for trade, commerce and tourism. After the games, wat this so called ‘Media'(they’ll do anything for money)should do is cover it extensively, find out the corruption scam, expose it and seek the govt to set up an audit committee to figure out the validity of the expenses. That would have been a win-win for both India and its lovely ppl.. World will accept us as a super economy, great brains and great hosts. I blame the Media for all the mess leave alone the real culprits, who are anyways going to get out of this mess, irrespective of the corruption magnitude.

  70. Whether India should have hosted the CWG may be a point of debate, but now that we are hosting it, we might as well be proud of the fact that we are doing a good job with, without or in spite of corruption.

    Some things have an intangible benefits, which may not be realized immediately, but definitely has a positive impact in the long run. I think CWG is one of them.

    And maybe I am a dreamer, but then for once let’s forget about being a ‘money police’ and enjoy the games. And let justice prevail afterwards!

  71. Dude, this kind of ranting about spending money when people in the country r hungry is commie bullshit that should be thrown in the trashcan.
    I dont see fat rich assholes think twice before throwing thousands in 1 meal at KFC.
    So screw that angle of things.
    I agree with the demand of investigations and stuff like that, but the real villains here r the Kalmadis and not the CWG opening ceremony props, so, get real! WTF r u saying.
    And if u keep carrying on this self-flagellation u will keep feeling sad for the rest of ur life. If u give a shit abt the poor people of India, do something for them or get the Govt. to do it, but if for once the Govt. and the people got something right i.e. the CWG opening ceremony, then either enjoy it of STFU!

  72. Pallavi sent your link to me! I wrote a happy post about the grand opening ceremony of the CWG. I knew about the corrupt politician behind it but I liked the way the children and artists performed and the technical aspect also. Instead of spending one rupee, our govt. had spent one thousand rupees in the name of these games.

    I read about the mistakes our govt. has committed after swallowing so much money and just want to delete the happy post, but I admired the children’s participation and they and the others who have made the ceremony a success in front of the whole world had to be appreciated. I don’t think they will get any cut from the corrupt money. They must have suffered a lot before participating in the show.

    Feel very very sad, GB!

    This is a good post and nice to know you, thank you!

  73. The commonwealth games is not of the standards of the olympics and yet we ended up spending so much money. It largely has substandard atheletes without europeans, the USA and China. So I dont understand whats the gr8 acheivement when so much money was spent and a very ordinary show is on display. Indians are just easy to please and live with the chalta hai attitude

  74. To all those self-righteos people sitting in their armchairs and condemning the corruption in the commonwealth games: Have you never paid a cop 50 bucks to avoid a 200 buck fine? Have you never tipped a clerk to get your papers processed faster? Corruption is as much about giving as it is about receiving, and it starts with each one of us. No one who has ever participated in a corrupt act in their lives has the right to stand up and criticize it in any form. So please, when we talk about our country being corrupt, we are, in fact, referring to ourselves. Lets not pass the buck.

  75. How many lakhs must a man steal …. before you call him a thief
    How many crores must a man swindle …. before he is CWG chief…
    The answer my friend, is blowing in a gas balloon ….. above the JLN Stadium…

  76. This post is of the same standard as the news dished out by the many news media(the news media is doing probably because only doordarshan got the rights for coverage. Also why media has woke up in the last few months? what were they doing before?). I thought yours to be of a high standard.

    Whatever you mentioned is known by every literate people on earth. But these kind of looting common man’s wealth for the benefit of few is going on for ages. What would you say for Taj mahal, pyramids in egypt and numerous other wonders/marvels on earth which serves no practical purpose to anybody. Infact it shows how exploitation was rampant thousand of years ago also. Harappa and indus valley civilization does not have that glamour quotient as the Taj, but the former shows planning and management benefiting common people.

    If possible please mention how corruption can be eradicated from the perspective of ordinary citizen(plz dont tell me to vote and join politics and be the change blah blah).

    Corruption starts when a student plots the V-I curve of resistor without actually doing the experiment. Or maybe before?

  77. @yourfan2
    Wow! Interesting observation! Just a few weeks ago, everyone was complaining that test cricket is dead due to T20 craze. The typically empty seats in a test match will prove that. The Mohali match probably drew attention coz of the twists and turns on the last two days. So, am not sure cricket is the reason for the poor viewership for CWG. We all know that a hockey match would have a very poor attention when compared to a ODI match. That’s largely due to the common man’s lack of interest (read awareness) in other forms of sport/games. The CWG events lacks “sensation” that a cricket fan (ie., almost all Indians) prefers.
    It is a pity that the regular dreary saas-bahu soaps receive more attention than CWG.

  78. You are such a good observer.

    But did you also notice another thing.

    The biggest critic of the games come from those parts of India which do not contribute iota to the Indian medals tally. No wonder, they have to do something to get their share of attention.

    Just think.

  79. I dont think that if the crores werent spent on the CWG, they would have been channelized into development of the nation or any other “good cause”.

    However, what does make me angry is how the corrupt people have gotten Scot free just because people are awed by the shiny opening ceremony and are riding this orgasmic “national pride” wave. When all the CWG disasters were coming to the forefront just before the game, I was (to some extent) happy that finally these corrupt administrators will be brought to task because of all the anger directed at them for ruining national pride because of their greed. Whats frustrating to see is how that anger evaporated in an instant and now no one bothers about how many crores Kalmadi and Co. stole and no one questions why the budget was exceeded seven fold.

    While I am happy that the games are going on smoothly, its very concerning to think how fleeting public memory is and how easy it is to distract public attention away from the serious issues.

  80. Arnab I read your blog for your comments on movies (where you’re one of the best–no make that the best), and not usually for your views on current affairs (where you’re a bit too conservative for my taste), but the last few posts on Babri Masjid, and now the CWG haver touched a nerve (you’re spot on) and I couldn’t resist, not on this one.

    Too many comments here echoing my thoughts already, among the many that don’t. Had to say something on the sheer ephemeral nature of public memory, though. One ultra-lavish, eye-popping opening ceremony, and people seem to have forgotten everything, helped in no small measure by a mainstream media that’s turned responsible for India’s image now. Very interesting indeed. I faintly remember a prominent news anchor calling it ‘Kalmadi Ka Badla’ among other things. Nice. The irony is delicious.

    As someone feeding on national news and the state of the economy for my daily bread, one tries hard to separate fact and opinion as much and as fast as possible in the deluge of information we get. Sometimes this is not easy, like the recent flare-up in Kashmir, for instance, or, for that matter, in the US stand on India’s role in Afghanistan. This one was easy, though!

    Public memory is indeed short. One doesn’t our worthy mainstream media to prove that, but here’s some freely available proof!

    P.S. Overall spend on the games would likely not exceed US$10bn, even if one includes the infra spend in and around New Delhi–higher amounts would start hurting on the fisc–we simply do not have that kind of cash lying around in India.

  81. I absolutely agree with you. Having said that now that CWG is happening, let us do the best possible job and then bring the miscreants to task. I have to right to know who has stolen the money, I gave in good faith as tax and I want all the corrupt brought to court and punished within a time-frame. If we keep adopting the ‘sab chalta hai, ab thik ho gaya na CWG’ attitude, then we will never get out of the corrupt list of countries brought out by Transparency international.

  82. Hello,
    Since the topic is about tax payer’s money, it just crossed my mind whether the author or the majority of the comment providers file their returns in India.
    For eg; 10 INR declared in India as tax. 40% corruption, rest goes as pension and roads, which is still 6 INR
    If it is 10 USD with the IRS, it is 0 INR for roads and pension and the poor whatsoever.

  83. Its interestig to note that people want “Media” to bring Kalmadi and Company to books … Media for what it is never sticks to one story and people also dont want to read the same story everyday. So shouldnt it be the law enforcing agencies which should swing into action…

    Its good that we still trust our media in the age of Paid news but on the other hand we have no expectations from the our govt agencies to act on such matters.

    Sad state of affairs to say the least.

  84. @GreatBong : Your writing style has changed over the past few years. My suggestion is that you needn’t try to defend your views and try to appease those readers who want to get at your throat for saying something. This is your opinion. Write it and let the tongues wag.

    Nice article though. It is almost as if the Indian mind has legalized corruption in itself.Sad.

  85. corruption aside(A big aside at that!) isn’t it good to have a event which puts a huge amount of money in circulation?

    all this $10B has gone into creating and improving infrastructure which can only be a good thing..new housing , sports facilities are all good for the economy.
    don’t quite understand your grief with spending the money..

    corruption is of course an issue. but only in its magnitude..else corruption is intrinsic in our culture and it is not going away any time soon.

    i found your take on it a little idealistic…your posts are quite pragmatic otherwise.

  86. What …. no puja post yet.
    Anyway Happy Durgapuja.
    And GB you are looking good in your shiny colourful new clothes (Punjabi ?). And Mrs. GB too.

  87. I dont quite agree with all your views, but yes as a matter of fact it is a lot of money, whether we should have spent all of it on CWG, yes we should have. We always talk about India’s progress, but we are never ready to take on the repercussions while on road to become a powerful country, why cause we crib without reason and rationale. Are we never going to be able to see a bigger picture, obviously if we keep obsessing with every small hiccup. I agree that lives that were lost, the corruption that went on and still is going on are blotches on the games, but that apart arent we getting ready to probably host biggest Sporting spectacle in INDIA, dont we want to show off apart from just being able to create a outsourcing paradise with likes of China, that we care as much about sports? why dont we see this outrage at IPL, there is similar level of corruption going on within other national bodies. I for one can never trust news channels as they behave more like chameleons, changing colors which they aptly have done now as well. Militancy in India is politically fed, but that does not mean people dont care about it. It is sad truth that certain sectors of the country are neglected, but dint confuse the issues here. Racism in rampant in America, but their NBA stars are African American, CHina is a communist country that bans Google, but yet highest manufacturer of fake stuff … they suffer internally from many things yet they have a powerful and global presence and right now thats what India needs,a powerful presence in all fraternity.

    I dont mean to offend, but really we need to see beyond our own well and sail in the sea ….

  88. Oops one last thing i forgot to mention, i dont think the balance and expense sheets as published by media are acceptable evidence and like i have said in my own post http://blawghh.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/in-which-india-at-commonwealth-games/ — it is too early to be a judge of whether all money spent has been worth or not …till then lets just cheer the athletes, thats the least we can do …

    PS – i do sincerely feel that respectable and reputed bloggers, like yourself, would not be so critical of these events. Your opinion does influence a lot of netizens.

  89. Hi,

    All that you have expressed through this post is absolutely correct and factual but dont you think it is also on part of us as citizens of India to be proud of our country for ultimately putting up a grand show of CWG, an international sporting event of this magnitude…There is no denial that the miappropriation of money be calculated and the culprit organisers/ politicians be punished by the govt. but as of now we should only be cheering and enjoying as it will put India on a different platter in the International sports arena and it is such a pleasant relief as well from the most popular religion of India- Cricket

  90. “why dont we see this outrage at IPL, there is similar level of corruption going on within other national bodies” – GB has already explained this 🙂 perhaps you read only the headline and commented 🙂

    “Citizens of India to be proud of our country for ultimately putting up a grand show of CWG, an international sporting event of this magnitude” – sure, we should be 🙂 and it is because of “youth power” like yourself, that Suresh Kalmadi will walk a free man (even taint free) a few months from now

  91. @ khujur rishi- “Isnt that always the case under Kangress.”

    More importantly, the question on every pee-sick (PSec) voter’s mind right now is: “If I join the Kangress, will I too get a share of the CWG loot?”

  92. its a point of view, you can keep yours and I will mine … if he wishes Arnab can speak for himself …i am not interested in fueling sarcasm in this space.

  93. A random thing I picked out on guardian. Such bad losers English and Australian(giving two fingers to officials) atheletes are

    10.40am: So, after all the complaints about the crowds being too small, now the crowds are (allegedly) too noisy. There is kerfuffle about the English women’s archers losing out after a poor late set of arrows, which some have linked to the crowd whistling and cheering. Thankfully, English athlete Alison Williamson put it into perspective (quoted by the Press Association):

    We’re used to an archery crowd. If you go to a golf match you don’t start clapping and cheering when someone’s about to putt, and it’s just lack of awareness of what is etiquette. But you have to deal with it. It’s part of the competition and on Sunday when we have the individual event I’m sure the home crowd will be vocal so we are just going to have to adapt to it.

  94. 10.40am: So, after all the complaints about the crowds being too small, now the crowds are (allegedly) too noisy. There is kerfuffle about the English women’s archers losing out after a poor late set of arrows, which some have linked to the crowd whistling and cheering. Thankfully, English athlete Alison Williamson put it into perspective (quoted by the Press Association):

    We’re used to an archery crowd. If you go to a golf match you don’t start clapping and cheering when someone’s about to putt, and it’s just lack of awareness of what is etiquette. But you have to deal with it. It’s part of the competition and on Sunday when we have the individual event I’m sure the home crowd will be vocal so we are just going to have to adapt to it.

  95. Picked this up on guardian. Such bad losers these English and Australian(giving two fingers to officials) atheletes are:

    10.40am: So, after all the complaints about the crowds being too small, now the crowds are (allegedly) too noisy. There is kerfuffle about the English women’s archers losing out after a poor late set of arrows, which some have linked to the crowd whistling and cheering. Thankfully, English athlete Alison Williamson put it into perspective (quoted by the Press Association):

    We’re used to an archery crowd. If you go to a golf match you don’t start clapping and cheering when someone’s about to putt, and it’s just lack of awareness of what is etiquette. But you have to deal with it. It’s part of the competition and on Sunday when we have the individual event I’m sure the home crowd will be vocal so we are just going to have to adapt to it.

  96. BIG PICTURE:

    Many are suggesting we forget this and talk about the big picture. Trust me in this way in our lifetime we will be a developing country if you let such rampant corruption go unnoticed.

    IPL is a pvt body and the govt went after it hammer and tongs. We were interested to nail everyone involved as though they actually looted our money.

    CWG is happening because you, your family, the poor person on the street, the man who welcomes people at the airport, EVERYONE in our country wanted a good show. We dont want some IDIOT or a bunch of them using this to make them and their next 50 generations FAT.

    India wake up. It took one STRAY DOG TO SHIT AND WALK ON A MATTRESS FOR US TO RISE. Have we fallen to such levels and protect the people involved.

    The gas in the baloon is not the final word. If we leave this like all other corruption charges against everyone involved then GOD SAVE US.

    This is a rant but am done with the bigger picture. I have one life and i want to live it in a country where there is no corruption.

    If you want to live in such a situation then we and our neighbours are not different. Dont crib we deserve it!

  97. I sincerely hope that some one in the media picks up where it left with regards to the “$80 toilet-paper rolls, the $61 soap dispensers, the 30 crores worth of earthen pots, the 9 lacs/rented treadmill…” once the games are over.

    I know they won’t but these aren’t the doors of hell, so I haven’t abandoned all hope.

  98. It’s all a question of timing. That’s all history is.

    There is a time to express outrage at the jawgaping extent of looting. And there is a time to present a united front to egregious external and internal India haters. Indiahaters who have stooped so low, that they have swum gutters to confabulate sordid tales of shit, prostitutes and monkeys about a sporting event!! Haters now shivering in uncontrollable fury that India has proved all of their retarted pronouncements completely false.

    Now is the time to unite and volubly slap the shit-seekers where deserved. And after the din dies down will be the time to properly investigate v ery real and disgusting corruption.

    I can bet you my bottom dollar that 90% of the “hoarse-criers” against CWG corruption, ones who provide a dream excuse to the foreign media to continue peddling filth about India, will be the ones to first evaoporate from the scene when any sincere interrogation of the object of their angst genuinely begins. They have caused the harm when unwarranted, and now disappear when the bounty presents itself.

    It’s all about timing. China has masterted it. It is a tenet in Islam. India, that archbed of secularism, federalism and free speech, has yet to learn step 1 of it in 5,000 years.

    And thus we suffer.

  99. The main problem is elsewhere.

    You share slot with these same journalists ( for example the Sunday paper where the “May I Make A Few Requests Pliss” appeared today ) – so do we have any scruples ? Can we/you/I quit those media ? Probably no, because we need to have our bread and “survive”. Nothing comes without a sacrifice.

    And we are not ready for that. We get the reporters we deserve. For example, can you quit ABP or facebook? Though, as a matter-of-fact, many are doing these. Cheers.

  100. Rantyee,

    I do not belong to the “media”. I do not earn my bread from them. I am a PhD in Computer Science and work in a research lab near Washington DC. Just thought would let you know.

  101. No amount of garish display in the name of the games can wipe the indelible image that India still has for a majority in the outside world. Just today we see the front page of a newspaper here splashing the glorious picture of a dog on the athletics tracks! Knowing fully well the abysmal reality that lurks behind the dazzling facade, I wonder what can we be really proud of.

  102. Completely agree with the sentiment. I feel sad as well – irritated everytime IBN and NDTV show something about how “well” things are going.

    What people forget is we paid the money for 10Kg of Pistachio and we got 10Kg of tomatoes instead. Yes the tomatoes are the best out there, nice and big, round and fresh, very red and tasty – but that is NOT what we paid for!

    I hope that the public keeps this episode fresh in their minds and hoping agast hope that kalmadi is punished.

    I am speculating here, but I think it is reasonable to assume that people much higher up that kalmadi have also made tonnes of money through this incl the Gandhi family. Only if CSFB and UBS start cooperating and show us who has how much money in those swiss bank accounts…

  103. Great Bong,

    People like you is the reason why Bengal is the most under-developed state in India, and despite poverty, even Bihar and UP are showing signs of improvement but Bengal not at all.

    Instead of giving gyan from your Washington comforts, why do you come down back and do something. First of all, screw freedom of expression, you are not eligible to comment on India, for you live and work abroad.

    What do you expect, the goverment should hand over the money to poor. Moronic communist mindset.

    With population touching 9 crore, Bengal managed one gold medal in Rahul Bannerjee, Not that I am not proud of the achievement, but what really is going on here is that a concerted attempt is being made to hide your under achievement by blasting the games.

    There have been irregularities revealed in audit, no doubt, no one is perfect, but then do not ignore the hard work that has actually gone into te games. You might not realise, but as an Indian, when you ridicule your own countrymen in front of others, what a bad impression that creates.

    So, I can’t stop you if you want to keep on cribbing. But everyone knows, including you that it is our weakness that we are trying to hide by blowing the games.

    So. jai Hind.
    and white wannabes like you- go screw yourself.

  104. @ K srinivasulu
    “So. jai Hind.
    and white wannabes like you- go screw yourself…”

    K (koopamanduka) Srinivasulu , some questions for you-

    Why didnt you say GB is a black wannabe?
    Do you consider “India-n” to be a racial identity?
    What has criticizing massive corruption by a particular ruling political party got to do with becoming a white wannabe?

  105. Sonia has snubbed Kalmadi…But why the media is not snubbing Sonia for continuous mismanagement …Indians should adopt a way to tell that we are not buying the snub story and forget the money looted. She is the TOP person …she should be held responsible.

  106. Hey, the terrorists have already won if you guys paid so much attention to the games! In my workplace of about 100 people, fewer than 20 watch TV and no one discussed CWG. For a change, I feel lucky…

  107. Hi GB ,
    The Commonwealth Games scam is nothing in front of the 2G scam.
    According to Yahoo ,the scam has caused a whopping revenue loss of Rs 1,76,700 crore to the government.Thats a cool USD 40 BILLION ????

    http://in.news.yahoo.com/20/20101110/1416/tnl-cag-submits-report-on-2g-spectrum-to_1.html

    I think you should seriously think to start writing a book on scams ,particularly of India .I am sure it would be a nice thrilling detective novella type of book .

    Rgds.

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