Friday, July 30, 2010

Critiquie of CWG is unpatriotic, Critique of shoddy city infrastructure is not!

Once upon a time Congress heavyweight Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar has an unmatched command over the English vocabulary as well as a sharp mind. He also has a knack of drawing the limelight onto himself whenever he feels ignored. Humility not being his crowning glory, he amuses everyone by describing himself as the most qualified person for various public positions.

As Sports Minister in earlier UPA regime, he drafted a Rs 6,000-crore plan to hold national panchayat games to develop skills in kho-kho, kabaddi and assorted indigenous sports, insisting that fund infusion at that level would help grow talent. Result: He was divested of the Sports Ministry.

Similarly, his attempts to by-pass the foreign policy establishment by aligning with Iran met with stern disapproval from his erstwhile employer, the Ministry of External Affairs. He also went on an ego trip with CMD of ONGC and the result: He was divested from Petroleum Ministry as well.

Latest from Mr Aiyar’s kettle is criticizing Mr. S M Krishna over Indo-Pak talks debacle and as soon as media stopped covering the story, he has gone on a rampage airing his pet peeve over sports events in India.

The question is should we take his views seriously at all?

Mr. Iyer wishes that a modern day pralaya should deluge the forthcoming Common WEALTH Games. Predictably, this set the cat among the pigeons, which was precisely what Mr Aiyar had hoped for. Denunciations flew in faster than javelin throws. Mud-slinging event has already started and Mr. Iyer is self-appointed chairman of this event.

Mr. Iyer’s comments range from anti-national, demeaning, demoralising to unsporting and worse. We often find Mr. Aiyar seeking limelight at the expense of mega-events like CWG. He railed against India’s bid for the Asian Games and explained that he wished the CWG would fail so that New Delhi wouldn’t ever dream of bidding for the Olympics.

There are two facets to Mr Aiyar's ill-timed diarrhoea. Casting an evil eye on one of the most prestigious sporting events India will host is, unequivocally unpatriotic. Further, the argument that the Rs 35,000 crore should be used to promote sports facilities in backward or Maoist-infested areas like Dantewada is absurd even by Mr. Iyer’s standards.

Whatever one’s views on India’s ability to organise such events, and there are serious questions relating to that, this is no time to publicly berate the event. If the CWG turns out to be a disaster, India’s national honour and prestige would be seriously compromised. India’s global image, would be severely dented.

But where Mr Aiyar does make a point is with regard to infrastructure. Much of Mr Aiyar’s ire, though, should have been directed at Ms Sheila Dikshit rather than the IOC chairman kalmadi.

The manner in which the Delhi Government and the city’s civic authorities have gone about uglifying the city resembles the work of an amateur biology student dissecting a frog. Already incredible tales of official greed are covering front page of all the newspapers. As soon as civil work is completed by one department, the next one swoops down and commences breaking it up. There have been huge cost and time over-runs in all the CWG projects, except for the Metro.

The city is suffering from the poor quality of roads, collapsing drains, traffic mess. the Government’s obsession with sandstone and granite pavements has driven everybody up the wall. For my life I can’t understand whose daft idea it was to place expensive but slippery granites on pavements. Millions have been spent carting sandstone to Delhi and I am sure Ms Sheila Dikshit will eventually overtake Ms Mayawati in the quantum purchased.

“Commonwealth Games of Delhi are globally ranked number one for collective contractor exposure. It’s a matter of pride for us but a shame that an anti-national person like Aiyar can’t see it.” Said Mr. Kalmadi.

Mr. Kalmadi should not get into petty battles and focus on the task at hand. He needs to reinforce the belief of inevitable success of the upcoming games.

I am still confident that doomsayers will be given a fitting reply when the CWG is held with flying colours. I am sure that India could even host Olympics if one dared to dream about hosting it.

Things might look messy right now but like the saying goes “where there is a will, there is a way”.

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