Monthly Archives: July 2010

The (Un)Common Misadventure?

CWG-Delhi-2010

Abraham Lincoln once said:

God must love the common man, he made so many of them.

It seems that God did not like the Indian common man as he made so many politicians and bureaucrats to make their life tough if not hell.

Amidst rising inflation, poverty and lack of basic amenities plaguing the common man, politicians are busy playing the game they play best: mudslinging.

The latest example is the (non-)issue about the CommonWealth Games (CWG). Two of the top-notch politicians of the ruling coalition are busy mudslinging at each other while the repute of the nation is at stake. The worst part is the truth that billions have already been spent, overshooting the initial budget and still things are chaotic. All this at the cost of hard earned money of the poor common man.

This speaks of amongst other the following failures:

Old time arch-rivals senior Congress leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Suresh Kalmadi, Congress leader and Chairman of the organizing committee of the CWG, are busy making accusations against each other while the preparations for the games are in a limbo. To give the matter an even more shameful flavor, the recent revelations by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) ranging from allegations like:

  • Award of works at higher rates – One of the accusations here are:

In the bid of L1, rates of some items and discount offered by the firm at the end of BOQ were tampered either by cutting or by overwriting in the price bid after opening in order to increase the quoted amount to avail the difference of Rs. 3,62,72,229/- between the next higher quoted amounts without changing the overall status.

  • Poor quality assurance – One among a list of eleven accusations CVC’s inspection note reveals :

Lot of deviations taken from the approved scheme of the Government without obtaining the approval of the competent authority. Specially poles of 12 meter length (Agreement rate of Rs. 28,358/-) and 10 meter length (Agreement rate of Rs. 28,974/-) have been deviated in such a manner which is beneficial to the agency with extra burden of about Rs. 1,13,32,464/-.

  • Award of work to ineligible agencies – CVC’s note states in one case:

Work finally had to be terminated which resulted into time and cost overrun

    Source: cvc.nic.in

    What is even more shocking and disturbing is the CVC revelation that the materials used in the construction failed “stress-test”. Basic safety norms are being openly flouted. Electricity installations remained to be tested for common checks like insulation test. With rains pouring and large crowd expected for the event, it is a dangerous proposition.

    As different parties peg the amount spent on the games at different levels, everyone agrees that it has zoomed way past the initial estimates and the whole proposition to organize the games is being questioned. A Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India press release dated July 29, 2010 pegs the figures as below:

    • Expected Income as per the CWG Organizing Committee (OC)  – Rs. 1,708 crore
    • Expected Expenditure on condust of the games – Rs.2,394 crore (includes Overlays, Timing, Scoring, Result System and Games Time Sports Equipment)
    • Indian Olympic Association (IOA) estimate of expenditure (2003) – Rs.655 crore
    • Current estimates – Rs.11,494 crore (apart from expenditure of Sports Infrastructure and Conduct of the Games, also expenditure on Security, Broadcasting, Telecommunication, Training of Sportspersons, allocation to Government of Delhi etc.)

    Some sources peg the amount at Rs. 35, 000 crores (close to USD 8, 000 millions, Indian per capita GDP– USD 3, 100).  Mani Shankar Aiyar also alleged that India had bribed the various nations to take the game.

    “To take the Games, the Olympic association of every Commonwealth country was given $1 lakh ($100,000); it was given to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. Those countries did not need this money,” he said. “I would call it a bribe, I don’t know what it is called from the legal point of view.”

    Source: EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com

    Aiyar openly declared that he would be happy if the “Games are spoilt”. Organizing such games and events are a good way to showcase the growth and cultural diversity of a nation to attract investment and tourism but the way this event is being managed, it will raise more doubts about Indian acumen and competence rather than creating a positive impact.

    “I am very happy with the rains, firstly because it will ensure a good agriculture for the country and secondly because it will ensure that the Commonwealth Games are spoilt,” Aiyar said candidly.

    Source: EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com

    As of now the CWG seems to have become a White Elephant which no one is ready to own. Games OC Chairman, Kalmadi has already wiped-off his hand from allegations of corruption.

    As the countdown clock on the games official page happily ticks away to the D-day, organizers are feeling the heat. CVC as well as the opposition parties and now even constituents of the ruling coalition are raising doubts on the successful conduct of the games. Delhi Finance Minister and a member of the Delhi government Commonwealth Coordination Committee, AK Walia has also gone on records, stating that he was not sure if all stadiums would be ready by the August 15 deadline for the Games.

    Come October 15, 2010, the day the games begin: the world is watching.

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    Asian Politicians you will hear of soon

    Varun Gandhi - BJP Secretary

    Politicians and Politics in some way or the other, touch each one of our lives daily.  We can love or hate them but we cannot ignore them. The Diplomat, an international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region recently brought out a series of publications on politicians to watch out for.

    The Indian fire band leader and Secretary of India’s main opposition party The Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), Mr. Varun Gandhi featured as one of the leaders to watch out for. Already making headlines due to his comments on various issues and being accused of professing a politics of “hate“, Varun is being seen as one of the leading figures in the BJP’s youth stable.

    Other politicians figuring on the list are:

    The Diplomat states:

    In 2009, 29-year-old Varun Gandhi was elected to parliament by the biggest margin (nearly 400,000 votes) of any other new member of his party—main opposition group the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The emphatic win quickly marked him out as one to watch on the Indian political scene.
    Despite being a member of India’s foremost political family, Varun—cousin to fellow ‘new generation’ politician Rahul Gandhi and the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—broke the mould by joining the BJP in 2004, instead of the Indian National Congress, with which his family has traditionally been aligned. He has stated that the BJP’s recent values better reflect his and the original ones held by the Congress on issues such as nationalism, for which he is a strong proponent.
    Often portrayed as more direct and confrontational than his cousin Rahul, Varun Gandhi has emerged as the hero of the ‘Hindutva’ forces, or those seeking to ensure that Hindus in India get the same status as presently enjoyed by Muslims in Pakistan. The cousins may well end up competing head-on with each other at some point in the future as they try to persuade the Indian electorate to choose between their societal visions.

    In 2009, 29-year-old Varun Gandhi was elected to parliament by the biggest margin (nearly 400,000 votes) of any other new member of his party—main opposition group the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The emphatic win quickly marked him out as one to watch on the Indian political scene.Despite being a member of India’s foremost political family, Varun—cousin to fellow ‘new generation’ politician Rahul Gandhi and the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—broke the mould by joining the BJP in 2004, instead of the Indian National Congress, with which his family has traditionally been aligned. He has stated that the BJP’s recent values better reflect his and the original ones held by the Congress on issues such as nationalism, for which he is a strong proponent.Often portrayed as more direct and confrontational than his cousin Rahul, Varun Gandhi has emerged as the hero of the ‘Hindutva’ forces, or those seeking to ensure that Hindus in India get the same status as presently enjoyed by Muslims in Pakistan. The cousins may well end up competing head-on with each other at some point in the future as they try to persuade the Indian electorate to choose between their societal visions.

    Source: the-diplomat.com

    Indian the largest democracy of the world faces deep rooted issues ranging from Corruption to Crime, from Poverty to Population. While this new breed of politicians surely are looked upon as hope for a new India, the politics of family itself raises concerns about the agenda that they may profess.

    Hopefully while following Nationalism, Varun will put “Nation” first.

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