Loss of Face (September 28, 2010)

News Analysis

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam on the current events that have brought disgrace to India.

We had been, as a nation, on cloud nine for the last several years, rejoicing over our status as an emerging regional power. That is what our leaders and our media had been dinning into our ears, day in day out even though from one-third to three-fourth (depending on which set of Central government data one relied upon) of our people have been hungry, underfed, ill-clad, ill-shod and badly-housed. Certainly, these are not the markers of a rising power.

The illusion of impending regional power status have been shattered by the stink of bribery, sloth and sheer incompetence in the management of the Commonwealth Games, which are a far more smaller affair than Olympics. Think of the mess if it had been Delhi Olympics.

First we learnt of the incomplete construction (some of it is still incomplete, some abandoned), then of shoddy and half-done fittings and interiors. After that an entire foot bridge collapsed. As if it was not enough humiliation, a roof caved in. Then dogs were found sleeping in athletes’ beds. To make things worse, a full-grown four-feet long, hooded cobra was caught slithering around in the tennis stadium.

Naturally, quite a few athletes from the developed world had second thoughts before deciding to come. Others have come in harbouring residual fears of dengue and swine flue. Such teams have refused to stay at the accommodation provided by the Games Organising Committee, and have to be put up at hotels.

Only the Pakistanis had no complaint and its Olympics Committee chairman said they thought everything was OK. Even the risk of terrorism did not sway him, and he said there would not be a greater risk from terror in India than there was in Pakistan. Brave guys, must say.

In the final analysis, Indians and Pakistanis know each other better than anyone else does. Naturally, of course. But the Pakistani certificate is not enough to restore our national image, which has taken a heavy beating.

The worst is not yet over. That is, we have not seen the last humiliating act of foolishness by the Games organisers and their political bosses. However, the evidence of our collective immaturity might come from somewhere other than the CWG. That proof is more likely to come from the Ayodhya judgment, if at all the judgment is delivered in the near future.

In a clear display of immaturity and majoritarian hubris, Sangh’s rabble-rousers and adopted trouble-makers are busy putting eastern UP on the boil. The front-runner is the bullyish Mahant Adityanath of Gorakdham. The cassettes of his anti-Muslim incendiary speeches, complete with the hurrahs of his thuggish supporters, is already doing the rounds, menacing poor, undefended Muslims.

As the Ayodhya verdict is awaited fears of Sangh inspired hooliganism make it incumbent on the Union and UP government to ensure public order. The chronic failure of the Indian state to protect the weak from bullies is a matter of greater national shame than the badly-organised Games.


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