Chetan Bhagat, Aug 29, 2010, 12.58am IST
Read more: Please don’t cheer the 2010 loot-fest - The Times of India
I am not going to harp on about how messed up the Commonwealth Games are. Enough has been written. The CWG 2010 is, by far, the biggest and most blatant, exercise in corruption in independent India’s history. Not only have they stolen public money, they’ve made a mess of the job at hand. Delhi is dug up and the official anthem (and ringtone) of the Games should be the neverending sound of drilling. If you worry about whether or not the work will finish on time, imagine the plight of Delhi’s residents after the Games. The dug-up roads will never be repaired; the potholes will remain as souvenirs, symbolic of the great daylight robbery of 2010.
Posturing, something this government has a PhD in, is in full progress. Enquiry reports, vague statements, tossing responsibility from one person to the other will continue, until the Games are over. After that, fingers crossed, people will forget. Bollywood stars will do the closing ceremony and the entertainment provided will somewhat compensate for the loot-fest.
In the middle of all this, there will be propaganda campaigns to ‘save India’s image’ and get the Games done somehow. People will be expected to support the event - after all, the pride of India is at stake. The great Indian youth will be called upon to fill stadiums and add energy to the event.
However, if we, the Indian people, support these Games, it will be a big mistake. This is a golden chance for citizens to put this corrupt and insensitive government to shame. Usually corruption issues are local in nature and they never really get the national traction or resonance that these Games have offered.
The CWG is an amazing opportunity because all Indians have been robbed at the same time. Add to that the fact that the government is desperate to save face. Now is when we can get them. And the way to do it is simply what the father of our nation pioneered in his time — noncooperation. Yes, and i’ve deliberated long before saying this — do not watch these Games. Do not go to the venues. Do not watch them on TV. You cannot become a cheerleader to an exercise in cheating. The Indian people have been exploited enough, but to expect us to smile through it is a bit much. If they can walk out of Parliament, we can walk out of stadiums.
Some might say, shouldn’t we support the Games on account of our country’s pride? The word ‘pride’ reminds me of a little story. When i was a child, our neighbors were a violent man and his battered wife. The woman would cover her bruise marks with make-up, suffering silently. Whenever we visited them, the couple presented the perfect picture of a happy couple. She even praised her husband. I asked my mother why the woman behaved in that way and didn’t expose her husband to show him in his true colors. My mother told me it doesn’t look nice to portray an unhappy home. She has to save the family pride. Over time, the bruises turned to fractures, and the fractures became near-fatal injuries. Until one day, police cars and ambulances came in and took both husband and wife away respectively.
Yes, such is Indian culture. We are ready to cover up injustice on account of a fake sense of honor that needs to show everything is in order. In the case of the CWG, the organizers are the oppressive husband, the Indian people the battered wife. But modern Indian wives do not stay silent and suffering anymore.
College unions, schools and individuals should take a stand and make clear — we do not support these Games. Just as Gandhiji figured, the oppressor can oppress us; it cannot make us cooperate. Brand ambassadors lending their names to these Games should think twice before lending their image to cover up corruption. The foreign media could present the full picture, namely that it is not the Indian people’s fault, it is a bunch of losers who didn’t think twice before looting the coffers of a poor country. The foreign media could use the situation to explain why India doesn’t win Olympic medals — not because we don’t have the talent but because people who run sports would rather stuff their pockets with stolen gold than help their country win a gold medal.
This government came to power just a little more than a year ago. They had a clear majority and enjoyed stability. They could have, if they wanted, shown exemplary governance for the next five years. Instead, they’ve given the Indian people nothing but extreme inflation and extreme corruption. Way to go, leaders. You guys are really great role models for our youth.
The opposition parties have a big chance to capitalize on all this. But first they need to get along, not mix religion with politics and get aspirational leaders who are clean and work hard. They would be back before you know it.
And if the ruling party wants to get out of this mess, there is only one way. No, it isn’t to execute the Games well — nobody cares about the silly Commonwealth club anyway. The only way to get out of this is to punish the people who did it, irrespective of their stature, and punish them hard. Use this as an opportunity to kill corruption, not to put on a grand, fake show. Otherwise, those holes you are digging in Delhi will be nothing but your political graves. People in India tolerate a lot, but when they get upset, they cause upset. Fix the mess, or the Indian people will soon be telling you — game over.
Friends spread this message to put the irresponsible government to shame.