A Matter of Honour

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All Iz Well

It’s been the refuge of demagogues down ages. Confound, confuse, silence critics by changing the frame of reference of the issue. We are at the receiving end of this right now. “Keep quiet!”, we are told. “Don’t raise a stink, don’t get taken in by the sensation hungry media’s hyperbole. Things are not quite all that bad, it’s just that our standards are a tad lower.” And of course, the ultimate exhortation – the nation’s honour is at stake here, don’t join the chorus of western chauvinists – their only motivation is to prove that India’s success story is just a transitory illusion.

Filth and grime may be ubiquitous in India, but that does not mean that we are not capable of creating an environment without them. I am sure none of these are found anywhere near 7 Racecourse road or 10 Janpath – or in our five star hotels for that matter. So what’s so difficult about ensuring basic standards of cleanliness in the games village? It’s just extreme lack of accountability, arrogance and incompetence.

Why look for the hidden hand? Why ascribe mo tives? Weren’t the same motives present during Beijing Olympics? Well, there were controversies raised there too – like the one about the little girl singing the welcome song. But the point is that those were minor pin pricks because the fundamentals were in place. Everything went off well, and the Chinese could shrug it off. But a bloody foot bridge falling ten days before the game? And the Chief Minister of the state saying it was not meant for sportspersons but for people? What kind of weird logic is that? Basic cleanliness and amenities lacking till a week before the games are to start? Do we need any conspirators at all – the sword is in the monkey’s hand, god save the king.

Delhi still looks more like a cross between a war zone and a construction site than a world class city hosting an international event. All the muck and unfinished sites are being hidden behind huge hoardings. Apparently Delhiites will pay the price for this for the next 30 years in the form of higher taxes, as per one report in today’s paper. Are we going to pay for our own dishonour?

Is the shoddy work at huge cost overruns undertaken by a few a matter of national honour?  I, for one, do not buy that. After all, if a fallen bridge is a matter of national shame, then conversely the construction of a replacement by Army Engineers within four days is a matter of national pride. I do NOT agree to allow my honour to be shamed by the wrongdoings of some Corrupt, Incompetent people (deadly combination). The situation we are in today is a result of criminal acts and bungling by specific individuals. It in itself is therefore not a matter of ‘national shame’. But it will be a national shame if those at the helm of this mockery of our nationhood and their cronies are allowed to get away with it.

Cut to end of games. Everyone will pat themselves on the back for a job well done. We have overcome against the evil designs of first world chauvinists.

“Yes, there were minor glitches, but then in an event of this scale and magnitude these can only be expected. The important thing was that they got taken care of in time, and the games went off very well. We are now ready for Olympics” I can almost hear the PM’s speech. One Supreme Court judge and a couple of bureaucrats, all nearing retirement or freshly retired, will get their entitled windfall in the form of membership of the CWG Enquiry Committee (or Commission), which will ensure that for the next 10 – 15  years they continue to maintain their standard of living at taxpayer’s expense. Remember Bhopal gas tragedy or the 1984 riots?

If we are really mindful of the country’s honour, here’s what must replace the predictable scenario after the games. A fast track enquiry commission, comprising entirely of eminent private citizens, should go into the entire gamut of activities that led to this disastrous situation. Let the hearings be held daily, and under full public gaze. Let no one be spared. Let the findings be placed before a full bench of the Supreme Court, which deals with this on a daily basis till it is disposed off. Let the perpetrators of this attempted rape of the country’s honour face the full majesty of law.

Or else, let’s just look the other way and continue to do things the way we do.

What goes my father?

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