Lombard,. IL: New Delhi, the capital city of India, hosted the world’s second largest multidisciplinary sporting extravaganza — the 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG) — October 3-14, and thus witnessed the combination of big makeover, sports, tourism and business.
After a controversy-marred build-up and negative publicity, the CWG 2010 set a historic landmark of being the biggest-ever in terms of participants with more than 6,700 athletes and officials. Delhi will now be known to have hosted the biggest games surpassing participation in Melbourne, four years ago, which stood at 5,766 athletes and officials. In the largest sporting mela till now, there were 17 sports events and for that 23 world-class venues, and 32 training centers were built or renovated. Sports freaks had the opportunity to watch the games in the city after the 1982 Asian Games. The Asian Games gave a fillip to New Delhi, upgrading the infrastructure and transforming the city. This was the second successful exercise and it has improved India’s image as a rising power. It has proved a major stepping stone for the capital city of Delhi to join the big league of world-class cities like Tokyo and New York. It is hoped that CWG held will have a favorable effect on the Indian economy and help attract more foreign direct investment into the country.
The glittering cultural show of CWG on October 3 was watched by a capacity crowd of 65,000 in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and also on television sets live by millions across the world. The spectacular scenes were watched as drummers stirred up a thumping beat, puppets danced in the air and thousands of children gathered at the packed stadium to sing a welcome to the participating athletes. A scintillating performance by music maestro A.R. Rahman and a plethora of musical instruments enthrall-ed the viewers showcasing the rich cultural heritage of India. Seven-year-old Keshav with a toothy grin and curly locks endeared himself to viewers while playing the tabla. The Shankh naad (auspicious blowing of conch shells), Su swagatam in welcome sung by ace vocalist Hariharan and fireworks lit the sky. This was followed by the giant Rs. 40-crore aerostat, filled with 20,000 cubic meters of helium gas, rising to its full height to the thunderous applause in a dimly-lit stadium. A dazzling laser show and a musical extravaganza made the closing ceremony equally memorable.
India was fourth in the overall medal count both at Melbourne 2006 and at the Manchester Games in 2002, while as hosting the Games this time, it stood at third position by winning 101 medals. This time India finished with 38 gold clinching second spot ahead of sporting power — Britain. New sporting heroes, particularly women, emerged from every corner of emerging India. Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman shuttler to win a gold medal at a CWG. Deepika Mahato, gold medallist in archery is the daughter of a Ranchi auto driver. What is enamoring is that some of the Indian medallists at this international competition were from rural India. Krishna Poonia got India first athletics gold by throwing the discus to 61.51m. We must feel proud of the fact that our nation is finally excelling in multiple sports on the world stage.
A week before the opening ceremony some of the participating Commonwealth countries, including Australia, Britain and New Zealand were writing off India. But once their contingents landed in Delhi, they took a U-turn after their initial complaints at their homes. They were satisfied over the preparations and tried to downplay their initial remarks. Indian media was filled with exposés of financial irregularities highlighting various scams and details of the sleaze and perfidy surrounding the games. There were reports of corruption in shoddy construction projects, dirty housing and illegal cash transfers. One novelist termed the games a “loot fest.” There were complaints about unfinished and filthy accommodation in the Games Village embarrassing the hosts. Fear gave way to joy and finally the Games Village was all about smiles. The minor hiccups did not affect the successful hosting of the mega event and it appeared that all is not as bad as it sounds. Yet dubious contracts need to be investigated.
For the preparation of the Games more than $6 billion has been spent on stadiums and upgrading the capital. Moreover the original $133 million administrative budget is reported to have reached $516 million. The capital city seems to have undergone a big makeover when we look at the streetlights, roads, flyovers, under and over-bridges and the way the Metro, IGI Airport expansion and power up-gradation were put on the fast track. With more subways that have come up, pedestrians will not have to make mad dashes across heavy traffic. Subways now have better lighting and closed-circuit televisions cameras. Narrow footpaths have been widened in congested areas. The potholed roads have been repaired as per modern technology and with standard material. The begging menace in the Capital has been stopped. Public information kiosk armed with phone and maps have been installed at reasonable distances. The ugly overhead mesh of cable wires has to a large extent gone underground. The capital city will now be a tourist destination having all desired infrastructure. Hundreds of waterless and odor-free urinals have been installed besides upgrading its existing urinals and toilets. The Archaeological Survey of India has spruced up heritage monuments and all such places have now swanky cafeterias and odor-free restrooms.
Incredibly shining India now sees a real chance of bagging the biggest — the 2020 Olympics, to be awarded in 2013.