Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Commonwealth Games Disaster : Malaysia Boleh, India Tak Boleh

By Syed Akbar Ali

I have taken this news report from the New Straits Times and rejigged it. You can read the original item here.

The reports are coming in fast and furious, not just in the NST but elsewhere too. The management of the Commonwealth Games in India has so far been a shambles. To all the people who say that ‘India is a great power’ I have asked before ‘great power in what?’

We do not gloat at other people’s misfortunes. But there are lessons to be learnt from India – it is just one simple lesson. Do read on till the end of this post.

The modern Commonwealth Games have been held primarily in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The only exception was when the games were held in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. I recall the Kuala Lumpur Games were billed the best Commonwealth Games ever held up to that time.

In India a disaster is looming at the Commonwealth Games. John Coates, the Australian Olympic Committee president, has said that the games should have never gone to Delhi. Some news about the Indian state of unpreparedness for the Commonwealth Games, which begins in just a few days.

road to the 2010 Commonwealth Games an unmitigated disaster
· chaos, public relations nightmare.
· corruption and poor planning
· top athletes like Phillips Idowu and Dani Samuels pulling out of the games
· Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England delaying arrival of their athletes
· authorities aren’t helping matters
· living quarters in games’ village uninhabitable
· piles of building debris everywhere, flooding
· human waste in sinks
· secretary-general, Lalit Bhanot : Everyone has a different standard of cleanliness
· footbridge collapsed injuring 27 people, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit : accident was “not as big as it has been made out to be”
· ceiling near weightlifting stage collapsed two days later
· cost over runs (at almost 17 times the original estimates)
· outbreak of dengue fever
· child labour accusations
· fear of terrorist attacks

In Masjid India we meet many Indian nationals who come as tourists and visitors. There are also many Indian nationals who work here. Having met them, I am not surprised that the Commonwealth Games in India is facing a disaster.

I find Indians from India very loud, argumentative and they don’t get things done. A lot of time is wasted pursuing useless argument. Yes I am generalizing but I am just reporting what I see, every day, without end.

As individuals, Indians can outshine the entire human race. Countless Indians have become corporate billionaires (who rule their domain like dictators), international business tycoons (outside India), NASA scientists, computer geniuses, doctors, Nobel Prize winners, TV personalities, prize winning writers and much more.

But as a people or as a community, they cannot organize themselves as well and move forward together. The reason is simple : they do not seem to have much respect for their fellow human being. This seems to be the national characteristic in India. They don’t care for others. So they cannot cooperate too.

It is very difficult for a people to get organized and move on in life when they cannot see their weaknesses or when they see good in what is not good. For example concerning the reports that there was ‘human waste in sinks’ at the Games Village their secretary general of the Commonwealth Games has said “Everyone has a different standard of cleanliness”.

When a footbridge collapsed at the Games Venue, injuring 27 people, including five seriously, the Chief Minister of Delhi said it was ’not as big as it has been made out to be.’

As I said : there is little care or concern for the human being in Indian society. Despite India being an old civilization, being a land of sages and stuff, they really don’t care too much about human beings.

In their country, over 600 million people do not have access to toilets inside their homes. (The number could be larger). Of the remaining 500 million people, they may have access to the type of toilets that were featured in the movie ‘The Slumdog Millionaire’. Very few Indians have access to proper plumbing and flush toilets anywhere.

Tens of millions of Indians still sleep out in the streets at night. No one cares for them. India is a democratic and free country – so their people have the freedom to sleep in the streets. I really cannot understand how their Prime Ministers, their leaders and Cabinet Ministers can go to work, driving past the millions of Indians who have to sleep in the streets. To them it is not a priority to make sure that every Indian has a basic home and has access to basic plumbing and hygiene.

They have bought aircraft carriers, built nuclear submarines and made atom bombs. The Indians have also built and launched rockets into outer space. Their latest achievement is that they landed a space probe on the moon. All these things cost billions of US Dollars, which they could hav spent to build a nationwide plumbing and sewerage system. But they did not. Obviously the basic human needs of a vast majority of their people is NOT a priority.

China suffered a huge number of poor people. But the Chinese have placed the welfare of their people at the fore front. The Chinese people now enjoy a very modern and relatively high standard of living. Only now China is spending money to design and build their first aircraft carrier. And it is going to be a supercarrier, perhaps more advanced than anything possessed by the US and the West.

We cannot entirely blame the Indian Prime Minister or the Indian leadership because India is as true a democracy as you can find on the surface of this earth. India is really a ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’. Their leaders really represent the will of the Indian people. It is the will of the Indian people that they really do not care too much for the welfare of human beings.

Why is that so? Indians are broken into countless sects, castes, language groups, ethnicities, religions and geographical regions – almost none of whom can get along with each other. They like to amplify their man made differences. A guy tying his turban clockwise may feel superior to a guy tying his turban counter clockwise and vice versa. A guy who eats his rice with ghee will feel superior to a guy who does not, and vice versa.

There is a danger that we in this country may go down this path. If we do not care for the human being, we will end up becoming less human. We may become inhumane. When that happens, society does not function as well.

Above all else the duty of care for our fellow human being is paramount.