An Open Letter Dear Mr.

Prime Minister, Sub: My boycott of the Commonwealth Games Over the past few months, we, the people of India, have witnessed an unparalleled sequence of repeated ineptitude and corruption at the highest levels in the organization of the Commonwealth Games. So much in fact, that jokes are making rounds about how it is Common Loot Games, and such like. I’m sure you, above all others, are aware of the international attention our country has received in the light of this event. Every “small incident” fans the fire of controversy, and it is truly appalling how many such incidents have happened. As has forever been the case, scapegoats have been found. The monsoon downpour in Delhi, the hand of foreign terrorists in the shooting of tourists, corporate failure in meeting deadlines, and so on. Now I read that the government has taken over the organizing. Do I heave a sigh of relief? I don’t. I have already decided I can’t trust the government, following the mishandling of a slew of issues across India – the fostering of parochial politics; the inability to tell the tribal people apart from the Maoists in Chhattisgarh; the failure to mitigate the angst of the people of Kashmir being the most visible. I now find myself wholeheartedly opposed to the entire shenanigans. Much as I’m aware of the economic loss that will be incurred, I fear more for the fact that an unsuccessful organization of the Games might make us as much a pariah as our neighbour Pakistan. Sadly, such a state seems to have its advantages – perhaps then we will deal more justly with our immediate neighbours than we have thus far. That, of course, is also a lot to hope for. Oddly, I see a kind of chaos theory at work here. During the ‘90s, when India’s cricketing skills was much in the doldrums and every cricket fan was religiously praying whenever the team played, the team would often be in dire straits and all eyes would turn heavenward hoping for rain to save us from defeat. The next most likely scenario was that of a couple of players making valiant efforts to salvage some pride. I’m sure followers of Indian cricket’s fortunes will nod in agreement when I say that “salvaging pride” is the most common phrase associated with the team. And what is true of the small is true of the large. The government is trying to salvage pride with the Commonwealth Games, but is such pride anything to vie for? Are we really presenting a developed India? The truth is we are presenting an India where the deficiencies are varnished with the untruth of glitter paint. A fingernail suffices to scrape past the artifice. This too has been oft the case with Indian cricket. The bottom line is that we have mock-glorified ourselves into delusion. Now when the illusion is fast unravelling, we are scrambling for other pretences to drape ourselves in. The truth, the reality, of India is the effigy burning in protests on the streets of a dozen cities. Every voice, every word, every stone raised, written or thrown in protest reflects the coming-apart of belief in the state. Even as I wish that nothing exculpate the government for this gross negligence, I too pray for rains to rid the country of this embarrassing event. Signed, Raghuram S Godavarthi (godavar@gmail.com)

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