I feel proud when I realise that India is hosting the Commonwealth Games. As an Indian, it inculcates a sense of patriotism in me.
But the moment I read about the expenditure on the Games – a whopping 30,000 crore and counting – the sense of patriotism evaporates.
India is a country where sports still languishes – apart from cricket, other sports still grapple hard to get their due and most sportspersons have to put up with lack of adequate finances and recognition unlike luckier counterparts like Vijender Singh (boxing), Pankaj Advani (billiards) and Saina Nehwal (badminton) to name a few.
Sample this: In July 2009, Indian hockey goalkeeper Baljit Singh sustained a career-threatening eye injury while he was practicing at a camp at Pune. He was treated at the AIIMS and later in the US.
Hockey India footed the bill as he was unable to fund his treatment in the US.
In January 2010, the disgruntled national men’s hockey players staged indefinite boycott of the World Cup preparatory camp to protest the non-payment of their dues and incentives.
Barely a week later, even women’s hockey players staged similar protests to demand their dues.
And this is no flash in the pan, there’re lot more issues and gloomy stories that go unnoticed.
While a cricketer, with a minor injury, rushes abroad for the best possible medical attention, other sportspersons lack that financial might.
The reason being that most of the sports get neglected due to lack of funds and infrastructure and sportsmen/women struggle to find a foothold even to make a decent living.
And now after Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy comment that a total of Rs 28,054 crore have been spent on the Commonwealth Games, out of which Rs 16,560 crore was given to the Delhi Government for upgrading the capital infrastructure and building of various stadia, I can hardly fathom the necessity for a country like India to host a event of this magnitude?
When sports in our country suffers due to lack of funds, and sportspersons lead an awful life, it was hardly necessary for us to conduct the Games.
Even Mani Shankar Iyer, former Sports Minister and a staunch opponent of Commonwealth Games, had voiced his concern.
“Those who are patronising the Games can only be evil. They cannot be God. Thousands of crores are being spent on circuses like these while the common children are being deprived of basic facilities to play,” Iyer said.
Think of it.
If we could have used all the money allotted for staging the Commonwealth Games for developing sports alone, our country would have benefited.
The Indian Olympic Association could have toed on these lines to benefit Indian sports:
1) Having a Comprehensive National Sports Policy
2) Providing Funds to State Associations of various bodies
3) Upgrading infrastructures in collaboration with Sports Authority of India (SAI)
4) Form a committee to spot talents at the grassroot level – be it football, hockey, archery, badminton, swimming, boxing or any other sport
5) Provide quality coaching etc…
These are few suggestions that could have benefited Indian sports as a whole, but now with a few of the Organising Committee members of the CWG involved in unbridled corruption, we can hardly believe that there will be a proper utilisation of the taxpayers’ money.
I even doubt, with news of rampant CWG corruption deals coming to the fore each day, whether the Games will be successful at all.
I doubt whether India can project itself successfully as a tourist hub due to this Games.
Once the Games get over, there may be lot of post-mortems.
But one thing will remain the same.
Indian sports will struggle to find that healing touch and its sportsmen/women will sulk in despair for that decent living…