Commonwealth Games: A stirring closing under way and a metaphor for investment in India


Delhi 2010 logo


The Closing Ceremony for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games is underway. The final verdict will come in the weeks and months ahead but after the incredibly chaotic, tainted and incompetent beginning the fact that it appears now as a qualified success is a tribute to those who finally mobilised themselves and further evidence of the “last-minute fix syndrome” that India suffers from.

Delhi virtually shut down on Thursday 2 hours ahead of the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, with government offices, banks and major markets closed for the day. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the venue for the event, is swarming with thousands of security personnel.

Around 60,000 spectators are expected to attend the event, that will start at 7 pm and end 10.30 pm. Around 7,500 security personnel have been deployed at the JN stadium. “A multi-layered security arrangement is in place for the closing ceremony, similar to the opening event,” Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson Delhi Police, told reporters.

Spectators will be put through manual and mechanical security checks at four points at the stadium, while Indian Air Force choppers will survey the skies. The stadium has 19 entry points where card readers, door frame metal detectors and X-Ray baggage machines have been installed. Mobile quick reaction teams have also been deployed on the outer perimeter of the stadium.

High-tech security equipment, including devices to check CBNR (chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological) assaults have been put in place. Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal reviewed the security arrangements at a meeting with senior officials.

Delhi Police has also deployed snipers, commandos on Light Armoured Troops Carrier (LATC) and specially trained men from paramilitary personnel along with Delhi Police personnel at the Games venues. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are also in place to scan the ground.

There are 3 hours to go before the ceremony draws to a close and fingers remain crossed.

ABC Online says that after a chaotic start, Games organisers have given themselves a pat on the back for delivering a functional, if somewhat bumpy, ride to the finish line. “The athletes and the competitions have gone very well,” Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said today. Australia finished the Games well atop the medal tally with 74 gold, 55 silver and 48 bronze. India narrowly pipped England for second spot, winning 38 golds to 37.

The Economic Times sees the Games as a metaphor for investment in India. Chaotic, difficult to enter, bumpy journeys but immensely rewarding at the end.

For many Indians who only two weeks ago labelled the event the “Shame Games”, it was an unprecedented success, with the country’s best-ever gold medal tally. “The Games has turned out to be better than worst feared,” said V. Ravichandar, head of Feedback consulting in Bangalore, which advises multinationals. “The Games were really a metaphor for investment in India. It’s not a smooth ride but things work out in the end.

After sparse crowds ruined the atmosphere in the first week of the two-week event, crowds soon swelled, with the medal results providing a respite for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ruling Congress party, which before the Games had been under pressure to save India from international embarrassment.

The wider and much publicised chaos of the preparations highlighted the gap between India and China when it comes to infrastructure. When organisers called on luxury hotel chains to clean up the athletes’ village, it underscored the fact that the private sector motor that drives India had been left out of a Games run by a state immersed in red tape, cronyism and graft. Thus, the Games failed to be the coming-out party the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics was for China. For foreigners, delegations threatening to quit with filthy rooms, dog faeces and dengue-carrying mosquitoes in the Games Village were the overarching memory.

It was a sign of the health of India’s business that the blue-chip Sensex stock index hit a near-three year high during the Games. India has attracted a record $21.4 billion in foreign funds into stocks this year — one-third of that since September. State-run Coal India is poised to launch a $3.5 billion IPO, the country’s largest that is expected to see heavy investor demand. It underscores how private industry in India is booming, thanks to tens of millions of Indians aspiring to the middle class.

“In a sense, India stands out internationally,” said Amit Tandon, managing director of Fitch rating agency in India. “It may be difficult to come in, but once you are in you make money.” That may signal more complacency ahead from India’s leaders, increasingly focused on state elections next year rather than long-term economic reforms. “I do hope at the end of the Games, someone in Congress or the prime minister will sit down and take stock of the situation,” said Tandon.

Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: