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India Better Than The Whole World Is Our Hindustan!

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Jun 1, 2004
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Sāre Jahān Se Achhā Hindustān Hamārā
by MEHUL SRIVASTAVA


Old jingle

sāre jahān se achhā hindustān hamārā -
Better than the whole world is our Hindustan


Allegations of corruption and mismanagement are overtaking a tournament that India's Prime Minister said would "signal to the world that India is rapidly marching ahead with confidence."

The Economic Times newspaper, citing internal documents, said organizers bought rolls of toilet paper at $80 per roll, soap dispensers at $61 each, and first-aid kits at $125 each.

Government spending for the Commonwealth Games has overrun a 2003 estimate of $500 million by more than nine times the budget. The Games have been criticized as the most expensive ever by the Comptroller and Auditor General agency and opposition parties in a nation where the World Bank says 828 million people live on less than $2 a day.

"We have not indulged in any extravagance," India's minister for sports, however, continues to maintain.

Organizers spent $220 each on mirrors costing $98 retail, $61 on soap dispensers costing $1.97, and $250190.00 on high-altitude simulators costing $11,830.00, according to reports by the Economic Times and India Today magazine, citing tender documents.

A day after the weightlifting hall opened Aug. 1, its roof leaked during a monsoon, and workers in white helmets climbed across the structure to patch it.

India's Central Vigilance Commission said in August that "almost all" the contractors for games-related projects inflated their costs. The quality of work was poor, and "test records were fabricated to show high strength," according to the government commission set up to investigate corruption.

The commission said concrete samples from stadiums, athlete housing and parking facilities failed a key strength measure, and the structures used reinforced steel that wasn't properly treated with anti-corrosive materials.

From the start, the government was criticized for spending money on the games instead of on programs to alleviate poverty.

UNICEF says 665 million Indians don't have access to toilets, so they defecate in public.

The games will displace at least 400,000 of New Delhi's 11.8 million residents, according to an estimate by the New Delhi-based Housing and Land Rights Network.

"Developing countries have very little reason to host these games," said Shalini Mishra, a senior researcher at the non-profit organization. "The amount of money that has been spent on stadiums alone could have done so much more for the poor. The government seems to have lost its sense of priorities."

Slums that weren't cleared in time will be screened off with bamboo to "conceal the sights," said New Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta, the city's top bureaucrat. Beggars will be taken off the streets, traffic will be rerouted and much of the city center will become a high-security zone.

As traffic whizzed by her 2-year-old son, Malati Mahto chipped away at the pavement on New Delhi's posh Lodhi Road, refurbishing the main thoroughfare for traffic to the main arena, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, and parking lots. She said she earns total $1.22 for the day by working 12-14 hours a day with no helmet or gloves.

Mahto, 28, said she was told by the contractor who hired her that her family must leave their blue, plastic hut alongside Lodhi Road by Sept. 15.

"They told me that people will come from England and Australia to run and jump," Mahto said.


Well, here's a new jingle Indians can sing after the Commonwealth Games:

Har shaakh pey ulloo baitha hai, anjam-e-gulistaa(n) kya ho-gaa -

With an owl (idiot) perched on every branch, what will become of the garden?


[Extracts from original article, courtesy: Bloomberg]

August 20, 2010
 

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