Salute them we must

The opening ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games was a resounding success. Indi's pride was restored or so many think. On the same day an investigative weekly ran an article entitled: We who built your games. It is a poignant photo essay of the trails and tribulations of the hundreds of thousands of workers who built the said Games brick by brick. I think that today when the lights are shining and the world is lauding us, they above all need to be saluted or at lest remembered. Please do spend a few minutes and read the article and look at the pictures.

I have often talked of the faceless and voiceless Indian who I have held is the real backbone of our country but few of us are willing to recognise this. So today as a mark of honour to all those who toiled day and night to make the Games are success, to all those who died while doing so I urge you again to spend a few minutes and look at the faces which thanks to this article have a name and listen to what they have to say. They were almost 200 000 labourers who made the Game possible and each was paid a paltry 100 Rs, half the minimum wage and less than what some were paid in the Asian games way back in 1982! They lived in squalor and filth but never complained. They suffered fever and pain but all they got was an innocuous pill doled out by some government doctor. If they did not recover in 5 days they lost their job!

There were no safety belts even if you hung at dizzy heights and no helmets. Over 1000 died though the official figure stands frozen at 42. No laws protected them as most were not registered. You see by not registering them contractors saved 360 crores a year. Once their work finished they have simply been pushed out of the city, back to where they were brought from.

Spend some time on the slide show of the article meet Rajdeb who slept in the open, see how they lived and what they ate. Meet Raj (slide 9) born in a tin box, or Pramod and his family (slide 12) who fled drought and landed in a tin box. This is the real face of the Games but sadly one no one will see or bother about. Today we have a chance to salute them and salute them we must.

Do you have a minute to spare for them.