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Commonwealth Games or Commonwealth Gold Rush?

October 4, 2010

I’ve been fascinated by the shenanigans and brouhaha around the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The Games’ preparations have served as a mirror in which the nation has glimpsed itself, and most have not liked the reflection one bit. An Indian college classmate of mine, who, like most of my Indian classmates, settled in America after graduation, said in a recent email that the CWG scandals made him want to change the color of his skin.

The scandals drove India’s global image to a new low, yet the people in charge of preparations for the Games have not been punished, despite calls for prosecution. Allegations of breathtaking graft, incompetence and negligence are being swept under a rug. I think a CNN reporter said it best when she was asked for the names of those responsible. “One can’t say who is responsible,” she replied.

Responsibility, accountability and transparency are as elusive as an honest politician or a competent contractor in what is widely regarded as the Commonwealth Gold Rush. By some estimates, $15 billion was spent on the CWG by a nation in which 46% of children below the age of 5 are underweight. This money could have been better spent. India didn’t need a $15 billion black eye.

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