Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lemming Tracks: 2010 Commonwealth Games Start Today

This is 'yesterday's news.' Literally. The Lemming may be back, if something noteworthy happens.
"After hail of criticism, Commonwealth Games opening in India"
Sara Sidner, CNN (October 2, 2010)

"After harsh criticism and controversy, the 2010 Commonwealth Games will officially begin Sunday in New Delhi, India.

"It's the first time India has hosted the international sporting event between countries of the former British Empire...."

Either Way, They'll be Famous

So far, so good: Hosting a major international event like this could put India on the map. And most likely will, one way or another.

"...The games afforded India an opportunity to promote a shiny image as an emerging power. The government spent billions on a new international airport, additional metro lines and fresh landscaping along dingy Delhi roads.

"Still, India remains a country with millions of poor people, who this week felt brushed aside as the new India tried to put its best face forward...."

A Beggar, a Balloon Vendor, and: A Do-Gooder?

Then there's a touching vignette about one beggar, and a balloon vendor. Folks at the games aren't likely to see either of them. The Lemming will get back to American journalists, being 'relevant' and India later.

"...'There has been a very strong movement by the government .. to get rid of the filth and to portray the beautified and shining India,' said Maushmi Basu, a migrant worker activist."

"Police and government officials contacted by CNN did not return calls...."

If people who are (helping?) the poor in India are all like Maushmi Basu: I'm glad I'm not a poor person in India. Calling the folks you're allegedly helping, "filth" might be interpreted as being a tad on the insensitive side. Maybe.

Which reminds the Lemming of a joke about this industrious lady whose life mission was to help the poor. You could tell who she was helping by the hunted look in their eyes.

Back to another excerpt from that CNN article.

India isn't Minnesota

"...The Indian government maintains that it respects the rights of the poor. But there are also laws against begging and putting up structures without proper permits and begging is illegal in New Delhi...."

Permits? For beggars?

We don't do that here in Minnesota. But then, as far as we know, we don't have street musicians either. San Francisco did, when I lived there - and the system worked.

Then there were those accusations of corruption that the Indian Parliament was dealing with - which might explain the doo-doo that outsiders found before the games.

A Shooting Here, a Car Bomb There - Things Happen

Two Taiwanese tourists getting injured when someone opened fire on a tourist bus might not be related to the Games at all. Some parts of the world are livelier than others, and I don't know what India's like in that respect.

Somewhat more unsettling:

"...A car blaze turned out to be a crudely manufactured bomb. And a militant group warned that it planned to target the games...."

That could be trouble - particularly if the "militant group" finds a better class of bomb makers.

Speaking of class - no, that'll wait until later.

Excrement, Filth, and a Collapsing Bridge: Otherwise, Pretty Much Okay

Back to the article:

"...If all that weren't enough, two days before athletes were scheduled to begin arriving, complaints rang out across the globe about their shoddy living quarters.

" 'You know, construction dust is still there, filth, excrement, it really is disgusting in parts and it really requires a professional deep clean throughout the entire complex,' said Michael Hooper, chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"As if to amplify Hooper's complaint, a pedestrian bridge leading to Nehru stadium collapsed that same day. India's image was slipping faster than a rocket...."

India and the Commonwealth Games: It Could Be Worse

Actually, it could be a lot worse. I've discussed this before. (September 26, 2010, September 21, 2010)

The 2010 Commonwealth Games are a major, international, event. Apparently bigger than anything India's put on so far. Particularly for a first effort, the Lemming thinks they're doing pretty well. News services have focused on the snake that seems to have been found on the site - and the athlete housing that wasn't up to spec. And, of course, that bridge collapse.

Look at it this way: the bridge could have collapsed while a VIP was on it.

'Relevance,' Sati, and Other Cultural Quirks

The Lemming thinks that journalists may be getting away from the intense, angsty 'relevance' that seem to have been all the rage for a while. Possibly because journalism, in America at least, is a business - and the Information Age broke the hold that traditional information gatekeepers had on what 'the Masses' are allowed to see. That's another topic. (see "What is an Information Gatekeeper?," Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 14, 2009))

On the other hand, recent news written in America about India has assumed that there are too many (east) Indians, and apparently implied that beggars are oppressed in India. Maybe journalism hasn't changed all that much in the last 30 or 40 years.

India: Possible Corruption, a Little Trouble With Publicity, a Case of Sati, But Otherwise Doing Pretty Well

Now, about India. The Lemming's hat is off to the leadership there.

Corruption or no - it looks like they're going to open the 2010 Commonwealth Games on schedule, with most of the infrastructure up and running. That's an accomplishment.

Particularly when you look at what India is dealing with.

The current government seems to be trying to wash cherished customs like the caste system and sati out of India's culture. That's going to be a major job: and may take generations. What's impressive is not that India is now a top-line 100% all-contemporary model country with no social issues. Nobody's in that category.

What impresses the Lemming is that India's leadership is making what may actually be a serious effort to bring the country up to speed with places like Hong Kong, Germany, and the United States. And, at least as important, quite a few folks in India who aren't in the official power structure are trying to do the same thing.

Complaints and criticism of India's government - particularly from sources inside India - are, to the Lemming, a strong indication that we're looking at a country where folks are allowed to get things done.

Now, with the whole world watching, we'll see how the 2010 Commonwealth Games turn out.

Related posts:In the news:Background:1
1 The Lemming has not thoroughly researched all aspects of India's history, culture, and current social systems. The 'background' resources are presented 'as is' - and may contain varying degrees of fact, assumptions, and wishful thinking.

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