Commonwealth games, everyone has come to know this word by now, for good or bad, doesn’t matter. Corruption and unethical transactions have become synonymous. But is it really so surprising? Don’t we know that wherever so much money at stake; thousands of crores of rupees; money suckers will gather around like honey bees around the flowers with nectar. Everyone wants a finger in the pie, before it melts away. ‘How’ doesn’t matter. Hook or crook anything will do… greasing palms, pockets, companies whatever.
Substandard work, bribes, money laundering, which of these is a word we haven’t heard before? We know them as a regular part and parcel of our system and our lives. We are also well aware of this amazing magic trick performed by most politicians ‘the shrinking money trick’… no matter how huge a fund, by the time it reaches the people it shrinks to an unimaginable amount, in terms of its deliverables.
I really do not find it offensive at all these days. We all indulge in similar activities in some form or the other, when it comes to our personal work, only the scale maybe smaller. However, a completely different problem with the commonwealth games, offends my sensibilities.
The word ‘commonwealth’ itself is the problem. Whose commonwealth? Is it not a ghost of our colonial past… referring to the countries that the British once ruled as their colonies. And what were the colonies all about but for looting their wealth and making their people, second rate citizens within their very own land? Is it difficult to imagine then that the games were then a political device of British empire to bring the colonies together and foster some sort of a relationship among them as well as with them, perhaps subtly suggesting to each to feel good about being under one master. The initial term anyway was ‘the British Commonwealth’. ‘British’ was dropped in 1949.
One may want to believe that today the Commonwealth nations have come a long way from its colonial legacy. They appear more like a political collective of nations with their own agenda and way of working. But, a mere search on wikipedia yields a multitude of pointers to its deep rooted past. The games for example, must start from the Buckingham Palace with the Queen handing over the baton with a message for all the Athletes. Even though it’s a symbolic gesture, it still means that the queen is supreme. As citizens of a free democratic country, should we accept that? The Commonwealth nations are supposedly a coming together of those who share a common cultural legacy of the ‘British empire’ – English as a common language, literature tainted with the rule and games that came from the empire. For example, Netball, Lawnball and Rugby sevens are some of CORE sports to be held during these games, beside many others from the international (or should I say European) fold mostly. Commonwealth nations today boast of equality as one of the key principles of coming together, had they ever thought of including atleast one local game from each of the Asian or African countries - Kho-kho for example from India?
What astounds me is the way our politicians are pushing these games as a matter of Indian pride. We treat our own sportspersons with such disdain that they are hardly left with any soul to fight an opponent. Scandals or not, the games will surely happen and a lot more money will vanish into thin air. We will end up paying more taxes. And Athletes from other countries will happily smile at the loot of all the gold medals they would collect amid the dust and din of one billion hapless people… unless a politician (rather a true leader) decides to wake up his / her sleeping soul tonight.