I’ve written before about the very single-sided biased coverage the Delhi Commonwealth Games got in the British media during the lead up to the games. As the BBC reporters landed up in the country, I could sense a change of tone in the articles on the website. Maybe they realized that things weren’t as screwed up as they were being made out to be.. and after the opening ceremony and in the days beyond, credit was given where it was due. Many of the venues remained empty in the first few days and that was definitely pointed out. Fair enough, no one’s asking for special leeway here… call it as you see it, nothing more and nothing less.. that’s all we ask.
Of course, not every British newsperson followed BBC’s lead. Up until a couple of days ago, the Telegraph had a running article on their website – “What went wrong in Delhi today?” Some of the things on there didn’t come up on Google searches on any other website but somehow the sleuths of the Telegraph had found these issues. Blech!
But forget all that for a moment. For more than a moment. If you’re an Indian, today is a day to feel proud. We’ve all felt proud of our country before but this one’s particularly different. For one, it’s not simply because of the performance of 11 individuals on a cricket field. Instead, it’s because of the akharas in the outskirts of Delhi where wrestlers fight in mud pits and then win gold medals. It’s because of the dedication of athletes who practice barefooted and win relay medals for their country. It’s because of shuttle players who aren’t too busy becoming fashion icons or developing videshi accents. It’s because of all those athletes who won medals for India and took the tricolour right up there. It’s because of all those athletes who couldn’t win this time but who have helped in getting us here. It’s because of those underpaid Sports Authority of India coaches who wake up at 5 am everyday and drive to the arena in their Bajaj scooters to fuel the dreams of their trainees.
Oh, but there’s more…
It’s because of the policemen who stood guard at every corner. It’s because of the army jawans who built a bridge in 4 days. It’s because of those hardworking men and women who made sure the Games Village was quickly spic and span coz reporters and their cameramen were hunting for dirty corners. It’s because of the hundreds of volunteers who got things right when it seemed like hell would break lose. It’s because of the throngs that bought tickets for athletics, table tennis, boxing and swimming instead of staying in to watch the Indian cricket team thrash Australia. It’s because of a city whose citizens bent over backwards, agreed to having half their roads taken over, just to make sure our foreign guests felt safe and comfortable. It’s because of a free media that isn’t asked to shut up when it’s more belligerent than it needs to be. It’s because of a government that doesn’t throw foreign journalists out of the country when they say and write things we don’t like. It’s because in spite of this awesome feeling inside, the crowd still remembers to boo Suresh Kalmadi when he takes the stage…
It’s because we recovered from the slide downhill and ended up hosting an event that we can really, really be proud of. I’ve spent the past hour reading articles in foreign media websites about how the games completely defied expectations. But do we really need approval from these naysayers of yesterday?
Yeah, let’s revel in the moment for now. Number two on the final league table in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. At some point in time, the questions would need to be asked. How do we move forward from here? Quite a bit went wrong with CWG, how do we make sure we get things right the first time? How do we get accountability in when such mega-projects are executed? How do we get qualified administrators to be in-charge? How do we make sure “old India” doesn’t let “new India” down? How can this sporting performance be sustained? How do we get money into our sports programs? How do we go from CWG 2010 to Asiad 2014 to Olympics 2020?
Lots of questions. Long way to go. But let’s watch this video one more time before we begin. Chak de!
Phoebe: Go down there and prove you mother wrong. You finish the job you were hired to do, and we’ll call that, “pulling a Monica.”
Phoebe: Okay, um, if a kid gets straight A’s, his parents would say, “Yeah, he pulled a Monica!” Or a fireman saves a baby, and they go, “Yeah I know, he pulled a Monica. Whew.” Or someone hits a homerun, the announcer says “Yeah, that one’s outta here.” ‘Cause some things don’t change.