Random Thoughts
D Dhanuraj
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Hoopla around Delhi Common Wealth Games are on every day's headlines. Many doubt whether it would happen or not, while a few claim it would be as scheduled as it is. I happened to be among the audience when Delhi Chief Minister assured the nation that Games will not be grounded. But in the same Q & A session she had with Urban Summit participants in Delhi, she did not forget to mention the various demands of Delhi and how emerging consensus shapes the frailties of the capital city. Decades after decades, city planning has been a dooms day affair in India. Hardly any city plan helped to meet the challenges of growing city in India. They are either obsolete or narrow in their wisdom. Leave aside Delhi for that matter, which city does meet the urban challenges these days?

Learning from around the world is that cities are constructed first and then citizens moved in. This is unthinkable in Indian context. We think about cities when agglomerations are formed. Look at Jamshedpur (better known as Tata city), how an efficient system is managed by a corporate. I don’t agree with the argument that corporate shall replace the civic administration! But the matter of the fact that it is the failure of the city administration to offer basic services to the citizen that often results in this voice. Build up to Common Wealth Games is an excellent opportunity to organise and position the city in the world map. The games village is for the citizens to use after the games. So is as the case with the improved infrastructure development.

The total budget estimated for hosting the 19th Commonwealth is US$ 1.6 billion and this amount excludes non sports related infrastructure development in the city like airports, roads and other structures. This makes the 2010 Common Wealth Games as the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever. The other day, there was a debate on whether Chicago shall bid for the Olympics Games. The debate has two faces of both austerity and prosperity. One of the arguments reminds one of the travesties in Delhi. It was understood that though the budget for Beijing Olympics was US $1.6 billion, they spent about US $ 40 billion. Considering the fact that this is a mega opportunity to show case the world the potentials of an emerging economy, many would support commonwealth games hosted by India. But I wonder why we did not choose another city instead of Delhi? The common take is that a leading city shall be projected for bid purpose. It is only three times in the history that any state capital (rather than the national capital) hosted the Games. I wonder why we could not field any second tier city and let it develop for the future by hosting such a prestigious event. This is the same case with other major sports events also held in India: Asian Games, SAF games etc. While Delhi hosted Asian games twice, it was Chennai and Kolkata that hosted SAF games. I fear another event will be hosted by Delhi if any time Olympics is allotted to India. Can our VVIP city can afford all these? Doubtful. And perhaps that is the reason why we decide to hold other national games in state capitals. Let's take these opportunities for the urban development.

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  1 Comment          
[1]  November 11 2009
Preparing a city for a world class event requires grit and determination and most importantly the realization of its importance. When every issue gets a political clout and development issues are a mere faux pas , the significance of hosting a games event is futile. The seat of power politics obviously was chosen as the Commonwealth games venue only because of the political factors rather than the facility factors. If you weigh facilities Hyderabad has a credible position, so also other places including Pune.

Maybe Delhi has won over others politically . But Olympics is a different league, wherein you have to show case your real talents and worth. For that matter, Delhi has to do a marathon !!!
 
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