Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Make Games a grand success India’s honour is at stake by Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd)
08 SEPTEMBER 2010
Make Games a grand success India’s honour is at stake
by Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd)
THE mess that the organisers of the 10th Commonwealth Games have made of it has sullied the honour and image of India. Unfortunately, while the Organising Committee (OC) has been in the eye of the storm, the mess is not confined to it. Here is a world class event, bid for by the country, for which ample time was available to the OC as well as to the entire Delhi Administration, and yet we find ourselves in such dire straits that neither the Games venues nor the infrastructure facilities in Delhi are ready. One should also not forget that the worthies of the Central government, who were supposedly keeping a close watch, continued to be somnolent till they were jolted by revelations in the media.
The media needs to be congratulated for bringing to the public domain how officials associated with organising the Games have misappropriated government funds and lined their own pockets. There is no end to such revelations, hoodwinking and passing the buck, but the culprits are either posturing or in a permanent state of denial while delays continue in all fields of activity, from infrastructure to what are euphemistically called “overlays”.
The latest are the gag orders issued to the coaches after the chief hockey coach, a Spaniard, in great anguish commented lucidly on the systemic failures of the nation in the field of sports, saying, “I have lost; your ‘system’ has won. I tried my best to change it; I pleaded, I cried, I did everything; but it won’t budge.” What a monumental shame!
The mess is not confined to the so-called world class infrastructure relating to the Games, but even in getting Delhi organised for the purpose. Let me mention just a few — the road communications within Delhi and the Metro extension; the grossly incomplete beautification drive undertaken by various agencies and not meeting even the targets of hotel rooms and other accommodation; all at such monumental costs. There can only be two reasons for this state of affairs — officials sitting over sanctions till their personal “demands” are met, and an abysmal lack of pride in the nation’s achievements. With every new revelation, the nation comes down another notch in the eyes of the world as well as our own people. It is not corruption per se that bothers the citizens, but the rampant loot of their hard-earned money, for public funds are after all created by numerous taxes which we all pay. Apparently, corruption no longer bothers us because it has now become a way of life in our country. There is no facet of India that is corruption-free.
In areas where a particular action may not be described as corruption, there is filching of public funds, again by both the high and the mighty as well as the officials who occupy the lower rungs of the bureaucracy, the police, etc. We seem to be so completely affected by our proverbial fatalistic outlook to life that we continue to withstand this onslaught of government officials and elected representatives without any major and collective backlash.
Reverting to the Games, once the media had exposed the skulduggery of the OC and the grossly inadequate preparations, it is to the credit of the Prime Minister that he moved fast, set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) as well as a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) to oversee all aspects of the preparations of the Games. A number of senior-level bureaucrats were also coopted to oversee each venue and expedite completion. It may well be a case of “too little too late”, but at least attempts are being made to retrieve a dismal situation.
At the same time, we have fallen into the trap of having “too many cooks.…”. So, there is a great danger of not meeting the aims and objectives.
In the Army, we cater for contingencies when the officer in command may become unavailable; his deputy takes over automatically and continues with his task. The advantages are obvious, but our political leaders as well as bureaucrats are loath to learn from the Army. So, we have a situation where the man in charge of the Games must be replaced, but we are unable to do so either on political grounds or because such a contingency was not planned for, and control could not change seamlessly.
There are also other major disadvantages. Besides diluting responsibility, we have managed to reduce accountability too. Resultantly, though the powers at the highest level have promised a full enquiry after the Games and severe punishment for those responsible, no one seems to believe it. Such is the loss of confidence of the “aam aadmi” in our leadership. Undoubtedly, a tragic situation! However, that is still in the future and such speculations at this time are unlikely to help in conducting the Games with a view to retrieving at least some of our image.
A few years back, the Army had conducted the World Military Games at Hyderabad, which were at a grand scale, with participation by over 70 nations. These Games were conducted flawlessly and earned kudos for the country. Luckily, some senior military officers who had played major roles in organising the military games have been coopted in the present games. They will undoubtedly do a stupendous job. One of them could have been made the deputy and we could have avoided the pitiable situation we are in. While on the subject of the military, how churlish it is on the part of the organisers to ask the serving personnel of the military who have been coopted for the most important tasks to do so gratis. Is this being suggested as a desperate measure to balance their books, although the paltry honorarium asked by the military is so minuscule that for the OC and the GoM to even suggest it is shameless, to say the least? It is only these military personnel who with their dedication and discipline will pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the OC and in doing so restore some of our lost image. Do pay them well.
At the end, it must be said that enough dirty linen has been washed in public. We need to end this now and concentrate on making the Games a grand success despite what has happened till now. There will be plenty of time and opportunity for recriminations and bringing the culprits to book after the Games. For the present, let us strive to put up a good show, for the sake of the country’s honour and reputation. In the long term, the nation will benefit. Once the Games are over, the media can go hammer and tongs after all the guilty and set examples for the future.
The writer is a former Vice-Chief of the Indian Army.
From: raj mehta [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 08 September 2010 09:58
To: REPORT MY SIGNAL (CS Kamboj)
Subject: Fw: CLAWS Web article on CWG and the Army
I take the liberty of sending the url link to a recent article on how the Army could be requested to bail out the CWG; an issue on which Gen Oberoi has written so well in todays The Tribune.
With warm regards,