For those that keep harping about the poor quality of Chinese products just compare Beijing Olympics vs Commonwealth Games to be held 2010 in Delhi.
Delhi is unfit for Commonwealth Games
Rajesh Kalra Monday September 14, 2009
Reports of an angry Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) bossman writing to the Indian Prime Minister because he thinks that India’s capital city will not be ready in time to host the next edition of the games just over a year away, and that it would embarrass the organisers, the host nation and also the federation, would shock only those not conversant with the happenings in this city.
This city, which is to host the games in October next year, is a complete mess. Almost every major road is dug up or blocked, either for Metro or flyover construction, and others that are not affected by games-related construction can thank substandard material used in road building for giving the entire city a uniform experience. Even calling it a disgrace is an understatement.
When the media went ballistic last week because commuters took 5 to 6 hours to traverse just 5 or 6 km, there was, for a change, no exaggeration. If anything, it was worse. Of course, all of it was exacerbated by the indiscipline that is the hallmark of the citizens of this city.
And this is just the roads and other networks that are basically required to get to the venues where the events would take place, but what about the venues themselves? By all available reports (CGF says 13 of 19 venues are between 30% and 50% behind schedule), they are so far behind schedule that some of them may be a disaster in the making if rushed through.
I can only recall the World Cup Cricket game in Delhi in 1995-96 when the Sri Lankans slaughtered India, particularly the local boy Manoj Prabhakar. Sitting in the press enclosure, one was worried about India’a pathetic show, but even more worried about the new structure that hosted the VIP and press enclosures. It still had wet plaster and the whole structure shuddered if someone ran up or down the stairs. The press cops also realised soon that their chairs had sunk a few inches into the yet wet concrete. It was only upon speaking to the workers there that we realised that they had plastered some of the structure as late as that morning and used a lime wash to give it a finished look.
Move away from the venues, to the entry point for most visitors and athletes for the games, the under- construction new terminal at Delhi airport. The builders say the civil work would be completed a few months before the games begin, giving them time enough to test everything and provide a “world class” experience to visitors and athletes who come in. Right, we have already seen the top-notch quality of their spanking new domestic terminal that leaks like a sieve whenever it rains. But how ambitious can one get, really! Hong Kong’s new airport was thrown open to traffic in July 1998 after extensive simulation tests, but failed. The tests simply couldn’t replicate the real thing.
Singapore readied its new terminal at Changi a complete year before the due date for its inauguration so that that they could test all systems extensively. What makes the builders of Delhi airport think that they will have all in place in just a couple of months after getting their civil work completed? If anyone has the confidence that it would be hunky dory, I would like to meet that optimistic soul.
A lot of people have argued that it was the same in 1982, prior to the Asian Games, but things still turned out remarkably well. Even this statement has two sides to it. One, there was a gentleman called Rajiv Gandhi, who had involved himself fully in the project and the famous Indian babudom and red tape was made ineffective. But two, and this is even more important, the quality was abysmal even then. The Asiad Village homes had stairs of uneven sizes and most of the flyovers built then are falling apart. Where else does such infrastructure fall apart in under 30 years?
And in the 27 years since then, our love for mediocrity, and corruption, has only increased, so the quality of these structures being created is best left unsaid.
Right in the beginning, I said that the CWG head feels a poorly organised game would embarrass the organisers. I think this gent is wrong. Such Teflon coated are our organisers (comprising mostly of scheming politicians) that nothing can embarrass them. The only ones embarrassed would be the ones like us and shamed would be our nation.
I would be happy if the Prime Minister, without wasting any more time, comes out with a statement that goes thus: “Given the current economic situation, the country would be better off without the games and the money that was being spent on building these white elephants would be utilised to build homes for the poor, and the beggars we wanted out so that they don’t prove to be an eyesore for the visitors”.
I am sure everyone will support the PM if he were to take this stand. We are neither ready, nor fit to host the games. As of now, we are in a position to host them in a manner that would be more shameful than it would be if we pull out now. We must opt for the less shameful option.