common wealth - common woes

I do not quite know why but I was interviewed by CTV (Canadian Televison) on my views about the forthcoming Commonwealth games. Perhaps it is because time and again I have voiced my concern over destruction of slums and the removal of street food vendors all done in the name of the CG! It was an odd feeling to be sitting on this side of the fence, when 27 years ago I sat on the other as head protocol for the IX Asian Games village. But that was way before project why, at a time when I like many others, was almost blissfully unaware of the other side of the fence. Then the Games were a matter of pride and had to be run successfully. Today was another story.

Till this interview I had not really given thought to what the Games really meant to me. As any other citizen of Delhi I felt irked by the constant traffic diversions at construction sites; as someone who was somewhat environment conscious I felt enraged at the Games village being constructed on the flood plain of Yamuna. All in all I never felt good about the Games. But it is only when I had to gather my thoughts for the interview that I realised what the Games really meant to me today. I think what disturbed me the most was the lost of livelihood that the sprucing up of the city entailed and that because many of the parents of the pwhy kids were food cart owners. The recent cleaning up drive has meant that they have lost their only means of earning. It is true that the court order banning the sale of cooked food was meant to curb the enormous bribes that were being paid, but once again it is the victim that was punished and not the perpetrator. The aftermath is yet to be felt as many are still hoping that like always this will be a temporary measure. Alas that does not seem to be the case.

The end of food carts also spells the end of an age old tradition and somehow that is something difficult to swallow. Are the famed Games going to change the very ethos of our existence. Sad but true!

What else are we going to brush under the carpet. I guess what comes to mind are the beggars in the city. I am sure they will be rounded up for the duration of the games and then let free again. I would have been elated if the Games had been the reason for addressing problems and finding long term solutions. Maybe one should have started a campaign urging people not to give money to beggars as that is the only way beggary would end: the day it becomes not profitable. My mind goes back to the little beggar girl.

I wish the Games would mean the end of pot holes on Delhi's roads. I wish the Games would mean a more efficient garbage disposal system.. I wish... the list is endless. But we got a taste of what the Games are going to mean to the Delhizen. Yesterday the CG Committee was on a visitation to assess the degree of preparedness of the city. The authorities came up with yet another cover up scheme: all the roads leading to the main event venues were simply blocked. The committee whizzed from one venue to another while ordinary citizens spent gruelling hours on choker block roads for their daily commute.

Brace yourself, CG times are not going to be easy or should I say be prepared for common woes!