When the headline on the first page of the newspaper declared “Corruption in Commonwealth Games,” Maggie’s instant comment was: “Mr X is involved, no?.” Mr X is an acquaintance of ours who is some kind of an official in the Commonwealth Games. He is known to draw a fat salary without attending his workplace except for occasional visits with the grin of the Cheshire cat on his lips. He has won many awards for excellence in his work though there is as much common between him and his work as there is between Osama bin Laden and philanthropy. I burst into a hearty laugh at Maggie’s pithy humour.
I admire Mani Shankar Aiyar for his impertinent comments. He is one of the most politically wrong politicians that I have come to know so far. He has been raising his incisive objections to India’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games right from the beginning for reasons related to economy. India will spend a huge sum – Rs 11,500 crore already spent – while the returns will be meagre (Rs 1708 crore). Mr Aiyar has irked the Congress high command with his insolent wish to see the failure of the Games. He doesn’t want India to host other possible events like the Olympics and impose more and more burden on the common Indian.
India has already spent 17.5 times more money on the Games than the initially proposed budget. The amount spent will only increase. How many people are lining their pockets illegally with the money associated with the Games? A few thousands, at the most. And who are paying that money? The millions of Indians. In other words, when you pay Rs 60 for a kilo of tomato or Rs 10 for a bus ride to your office not very far from your home, you are making a small contribution to the wads in the inner pockets of those who are running the works related to the Games. I guess Mr Aiyar was aware of this due to his proximity to the Indians who run such shows.
India may spend a huge sum on the Games with little to profit (and much to lose by way of money). Don’t worry, be happy, if you are a Delhiite. You can have better roads, more buses, more metro lines and other such facilities. If you are a non-Delhiite Indian, console yourself by feeling proud of the capital city of your country becoming a world-class city. As far as the corruption is concerned, console yourself again that some of your fellow countrymen are getting richer and hopefully happier.
But what about the fears about the safety and security of the sports people and players who will come from 72 countries? Our great planners and implementers are said to have assigned various jobs to unauthorised agencies. Materials of inferior quality have been used in many construction works. Quite a few of the security certificates are counterfeit.
Though I admire Mr Aiyar’s iconoclasm I don’t share his hope that the Commonwealth Games should fail. I hope that they succeed. I pray (if any god listens) that nothing unfortunate happens to thousands of innocent sports people and their equally innocent admirers because of the greed of our corrupt planners and implementers.