Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Nation hangs its head in Shame

India has been talking about hosting the Commonwealth Games for years. Unfortunately, all we did was talk.

Basic infrastructure was missing, the stadiums needed upgradation. "Don't worry, it will be ready on time", we were told. We believed them, because we wanted to.

The media broke stories about the money siphoned off, about toilet rolls being purchased for $200 a roll. After making appropriate noises of protest, we chose to ignore the scam- corruption is a way of life.

The first teams to arrive refused to move into the athlete's village. "Indians have different standards of hygiene"- the official excuse made the nation cringe.

Days before the start of the Games, a newly-erected footbridge collapsed. "It was not meant for the athletes, only for spectators", the Chief Minister said. In a nation of a billion people, a few are expendable.

A ceiling over a stadium caved in. There is talk of cancelling the Games. I hope they do. Because if they don't, India will sweep all the medals- there will be no competition.

A nation hangs its head in shame. If these are the people we elect into office, do we have the right to expect any different?


Margot Kinberg said...

Rayna - You touch on such an important theme: the way a government treats its own people in front of the world. When skimming a profit and putting on a good face are more important than the welfare of the people, it really is a terrible shame. And when people allow a government to do that and do not hold them accountable, this is also a shame. You are to be commended for discussing such a difficult topic and not being complacent.

Ann Best said...

It's not just in India. It's everywhere, including the United States of America, that moral lapses occur. Thank you for speaking out. People need to speak out against duplicity and corruption wherever it occurs.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Changing my template and struggling with a cold is minor compared to what so many people are suffering from in the world today.

Anonymous said...

So sad when corruption is allowed to rule a country.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is such a powerful post, Rayna - and India is not alone. That's what saddens me the most. The world is not what it once was.

Jan Morrison said...

Having just hosted the winter Olympics in Canada believe me when I say I am most sympathetic to the situation. I think these games have gotten too crazy - no one can afford them - the only countries that can put them on without losing their shirts and their face are ones that don't need the exposure anyway. It is time to say enough to the whole business.
I'm with you and hope they are cancelled so that the organizations can have a good hard look at what they think they are doing.

LTM said...

mishandling of public funds and projects can be so infuriating! It reminds me of our bridge to nowhere. :o\ <3

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

$200 for a roll of TP? Sounds like our government.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Margot- if only you knew how difficult it was for me to write this post, knowing it would go out to an audience that is blissfully ignorant of the mess. But ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away, does it? It is because of our passive silence that things have got so bad.

@ Ann- If you ask me to name the biggest problem in India today, I would say "corruption", not poverty, or health, or water, or anything else. No idea how bad it is in other countries, but India is really bad.
And while in the context of global suffering, a cold seems like nothing at all, to the person suffering, a cold is really bad.

@ Fiona - the # 1 problem in India today.

@ Shannon- it is sad isn't it? That basic human values of honesty and trust no longer have any meaning.

@ Jan- it saddens and sickens me that after spending so much money, we find that less than a quarter of the funds expended have gone into creating something. We cannot afford the Games (nobody really can, as you point out), but we are paying four times as much for the Games as we should.

@ Leigh- why do we allow governments to get away with it? I guess it is all really our fault.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Alex - no ordinary roll, I am sure. It must have been ancient papyrus!

Dorte H said...

I understand your frustration, and we also have our share of greedy and incompetent politicians in Denmark. Far too many of them only think of being elected again rather than the future of their country.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Dorte- it is sad when people who are supposed to serve the country, end up serving only themselves, isn't it?

Jemi Fraser said...

I've seen clips of Canadian athletes pulling out for fears of their safety. Such a difficult decision. I wish things were better all the way around.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Jemi - I really don't blame them. There have always been concerns about security, but we managed to assure countries that we would do our best to contain trouble. But the other day, and Australian TV crew managed to take a bag of the kind that could contain explosives into one of the venues- after that, would anyone be mad enough to come? Even in the quest for gold?
This is quite clearly our moment of shame.

slommler said...

Oh this is so sad! So tragic! It is hard for me to wrap my mind around a government that considers some loss of life acceptable as part of the process??!!
This is beyond tragic!
And when monies are given to help the masses and only a few actually receive the money? Sheesh!!
A tale we hear all too often...everywhere!!!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ SueAnn- that is what I found the most difficult thing to digest- the attitude of the government. Now, if they were apologetic, I would perhaps forgive them a bit.


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