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The Un-Common Wealth Games Begin: Incredible India, It Stinks

By Partha Banerjee

03 October, 2010

Jim Yardley writes in New York Times today: As Global Games Begin, India Hopes for Chance to Save National Pride. Wrong title, Mr. Yardley. India doesn't hope to save national pride: it's the violent, corrupt and inefficient people on top who're trying to save their national power, with help from corporate media -- Indian and international. It's shameful.

This is a quick summary of the so-called Commonwealth Games, 2010. (1) Rounding up and jailing of poor people with their children off Delhi's streets; (2) massive corruption of the ruling Congress leaders who allegedly stole millions of dollars by doling out big corporate contracts with outrageously inflated prices; (3) major failing to meet important deadlines causing international derision; (4) paying 15-20 cents or less per hour (and working them 12-14 hours a day) to the thousands of workers, and falsely promising them housing, health care, child care, education, etc.; (5) creating an oppressive and unsafe work climate where at least 40 workers have died from on-the-job injuries, etc. while working on the Games sites; (6) organizers rampantly used child labor; (7) the govt. shut down schools, colleges and govt. offices for the games with no make-up time for lost studies or work -- unprecedented in modern world history; (8) major construction debacles including the road bridge collapse in Delhi last week; (9) historic number of international athletes pulling out of the games; (10) massive arrogance of the Congress govt, International Olympic Committee and Commonwealth Games executives who took millions of dollars, yet didn't deliver.

Other than some no-name, local, grassroots groups, international human rights bodies or the United Nations did not produce any audible screams against such rights and justice violations (bizarre, because the big-name groups in particular wouldn't miss any opportunity to raise hell on other politically expedient lapses in select places across the globe.)

The entire cost that has nothing to do with welfare of the ordinary people (totaling billions of dollars) has been and will be dumped on the broken backs of the average and poor Indian citizens who couldn't care less about the Games; their lives will not change a bit after the fiasco is all over. Mr. Yardley, you might challenge the status quo the Games' sponsor corporations and their trustee governments are perpetuating. That's the real problem big media need to address.

And we're not even talking about the painful and pathetic legacy of the Commonwealth hegemony. As if two hundred years of looting a once-prosperous country and leaving a torn, bloody, violent and impoverished three pieces of land with carefully chosen cronies weren't enough.

If anything, the British Queen and her administration owe a long-overdue apology with major reparation to the one billion-plus people they tyrannized in South Asia. That would be a real good start. Everything else falls short.

Partha Banerjee is a New York-based human rights and media activist. He teaches at Empire State College. Email: banerjee2000@hotmail.com