Finally they are on!
Today was Day 3 of the XIX Commonwealth Games being held in New Delhi and by the looks of it, the events are off to a great start.
It is no small feat for India.
It was a moment of great National pride when India won the bid to hold the games in 2010.
Between that day four years ago, and now, the games have seen remarkable concerted efforts by thousands to make it the greatest Commonwealth games in the history of the event.
With the entire world watching and speculating about India’s capability to pull off a sporting event of this magnitude, there was tremendous pressure.
The greatest pressure of all was, however, the fight against the inevitable unconstructive elements right at home. Corrupt politicians, in-efficient officials, large scale money re-routing, apathy, terror threats- you name and you could see it intricately connected to the games preparations.
Even with the deadline for the games looming large, politicians were busy highlighting the corruption of the opposite camp, conveniently choosing to ignore the much pending work. There were moments of national shame when the media high-lighted the collapsed bridges, unhygienic living quarters at the newly constructed games village and unacceptable audacious comments by high officials of the organising committee. The heaviest monsoon rains in decades that New Delhi received added to the woes.
The common tax-paying Indian was shocked and terrified. Will the games bring us International shame? Will India stand out as an inefficient, corrupt and un-professional country after all?
This country, which has only last month been declared the third most powerful country after the US and China; and this country which is now the second most rapidly growing economy in the world?
Such distinctions would, in no way be justified if the country, which now houses almost one- fifth of humanity, fails to successfully host these games after four years of preparations, endless owes due to traffic-diversions and widespread constructions, and an exorbitant expenditure of Rs.70 000 crores of tax-payer’s money.
Everyone waited with bated breath for the Opening ceremony on the 3rd of October.
Opening ceremonies have been said to make or mar events.
It must have been the largest sigh of relief ever heaved when, together with the World, 800 billion Indians witnessed the spectacular extravaganza that unfolded in the evening of the 3rd of October in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
How we wished we could be there!
But the pride we felt wasn’t in any lessened by the fact that we were watching the event on television.
Everything went off without a glitch. And the world experienced 5000 years of Indian culture showcased in a magnificent show.
The aerostat with the floating screen was the largest helium balloon ever showcased and it was this overhead floating screen that made the show a great success.
The highlight of the show was the Bodhi-tree or ‘The Tree of Wisdom’ which was formed beautifully right at the centre. Surrounding it, thousands of graceful, colourful dancers emerged effortlessly from the under-ground stage that opened up in the centre of the massive stadium.
Another interesting aspect was the united beat of the drummers from different parts of the country, playing their indigenous drums.
The atmosphere turned solemn as Gandhi ji was remembered.
The larger than life mannequin that rose from under the centre-stage of the stadium took everyone’s breath away even as artists depicted the famous photograph of ‘the Dandi March’ in sand-art over a well-lit, glass-topped table.
A.R. Rahman’s CWG anthem, which marked the end of the show, was well received.
The real games are on and all is well at the very colourful village.
The pictures now are of happy athletes enjoying India, of professional competition and of the tireless security officials forever vigilant against terror threats of nuclear and biological weapons.
New Delhi is almost a fortress with 300 sniffer-dogs, 1.5 lakh Security personnel, 15 Bomb Disposal Squads and IAF Helicopters with snipers constantly on watch.
Thousands of volunteers from both students and the working class have battled and worked against the deep rooted corruption in many quarters. Successful cleanliness and tree-plantation drives they had undertaken only goes to show what the new young India can achieve against all odds.
It is time some people are held directly answerable to the citizens. After all it is our money and reputation that is at stake.
Mr. Kalmadi, the Organising chief was booed as he read out his speech at the opening ceremony and rightly so.
The success of the games doesn’t wipe away the days of shame the country had to face in front of the entire world due to his in-efficiency and corruption. It is high time Indian politics saw some change.
For now, let us just enjoy the games.
We have our paws crossed for our country. As of today, we are at No. 2 with Australia leading the medals tally.
May the best country win.
Pee Ess: Thankyou very much for all your comments, dear Friends. We will get back to you soon. Last few days have been crazy and we have a lot of things happening on the pawsonal front too. Will tell you all about it soon. Please be with us, OKies? Please?