After CWG, let the headman’s axe swing

The Commonwealth Games 2010 issue continues but hopefully, by the time this article appears, “all will be well”. I think we need to reflect constructively on the lessons from the Games. Politically, it would be immature to react to certain negative remarks which have little to do with the Games. But no one can deny the fact that the Games Village and the residential accommodation were not built in time and the quality was poor. Besides the builders — the Delhi Development Authority and Emaar MGF —

Union sports minister M.S. Gill and urban development minister Jaipal Reddy have much to answer. One cannot also ignore the contribution of Commonwealth Games organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and Commonwealth Games chief executive Mike Hooper to this mess. They should be held accountable.
The credibility of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance-2 government on the issue of effective governance is up for public scrutiny. I don’t think that the government can take this lightly. Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, her team and many thousands of labourers and officers have contributed in creating facilities that are magnificent. Sadly, the reputation of the country has suffered a blow because of the trouble in the Games Village.
The controversy over who, President Pratibha Patil or Prince Charles, will open the Games was unnecessary, but it held a message for the future. Global power shifts don’t just take place on political and economic issues. There is a change in public response to a host of other issues as well — colonial structures are a relic of the past and in India’s emerging demographic pattern there is no space for feudal values.
We have a great deal of positive views emerging from the Games and some of the TV channels who have overdone the “negatives” will suffer in credibility. They will now try to catch up on the positives as the public mood is turning against the deliberate campaign against India and everything that is Indian.
We are all aware of the vested interests, both within the country and abroad, that cannot digest the emergence of India as a global superpower. While the hate campaign continues with news reports of a snake being found in the Village or dirty bathrooms, the Sensex has crossed 20,000 points and is poised to achieve greater heights. We are clearly heading towards nine per cent GDP growth with a saving ratio close to 40 per cent.
I declined several interview requests by TV channels as I did not want to contribute to any India-bashing by drawing a comparison between the Asiad Games in 1982 and CWG 2010. This is not the time for raking up debating points.
But we must recognise that the one single aspect that has contributed to making CWG 2010 what it is today is very poor decision-making at the top. If the Games were sanctioned in 2003, why did work start in 2008? This really is the main reason why things have gone wrong as almost everyone was working with their backs to the wall. Despite all the complications we managed to create wonderful infrastructure for the future but the 6-12 months required for the “finishing touches” were missing.
This lethargy in decision-making by the Cabinet is inexplicable. The public outcry will continue and the media will do a ferocious job in exposing every little indiscretion and delay. The buck has to stop at the top and, besides Mr Kalmadi’s, many other heads must roll.
I remember the 1982 Asiad well and I know that if at that time there was a cleaning problem we would be communicating on the “wireless” (we had no cellphones then) and would be there in minutes to mobilise the thousands required to finish the job. We would not hesitate to scrub the floors ourselves and this is indeed what Ms Dikshit did. It is unfortunate that she did not take charge of the Village a month ago. If she had done so, we would have been spared the embarrassment.
The Games Village is ready but we do have stray animals, garbage accumulating on roads and either we don’t have public toilets or we have dirty ones.
Governance is never easy. While we talk of change, we do little to implement or take advantage of our favourable demographic pattern. US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg, and the new Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, are all in their early forties. If they succeed, they can continue for a decade in office — this is good thinking from the voting electorate.
There are always exceptions to the rule. While there is little doubt that Dr Singh and Pranab Mukherjee, both in their late seventies, have exceptional levels of fitness and have done well by any standards, we are now talking of the future. What are our plans?
We are bursting with talent and in politics, as in other professions, we can do India proud by creating a favourable situation to allow this talent to surface. We may have a majority government or we may settle for a coalition, but leadership will remain a key issue for the future. We need to look for “new” leaders to deal with a “new” situation.
The two terms of the UPA governments have provided political stability for a decade. This is not a small achievement. There has been adequate time for new leaderships to surface, learn and develop for all political parties. Success will go to the party that is best organised to deal with the future.

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