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:
- Lack of project management skills
- Lack of civil sense
- Probable Corruption
- Lack of people management skills
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”
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.”
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.
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.