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Delhi defies the doubters


Rory Medcalf


15 October 2010 09:52

The Commonwealth Games in New Delhi have ended, and the critics and doubters need to do a bit of soul-searching.

It was not a triumph for the organising committee — after the chaos and scandals leading up to the event, chairman Suresh Kalmadi and his crew do not deserve glory. The Delhi Games will not rank alongside the Beijing Olympics as an awesome spectacle of the power of a rising mega-state to marshal its resources to a single end. The big mistake, of course, was not to give India's vibrant private sector the job of doing what the creaky ship of state could not slickly do.

But, as this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald convincingly explains, the past two weeks have turned out to be a victory for the resilient people of India's much-maligned capital.

My own sense from various foreign journalists covering the Games is that they were under pressure to accentuate the negative; one British paper even reportedly did not bother to seek a view from the Delhi police before the declaring security at the Games to be a failure. In other words, we were not getting a balanced story.

A few weeks ago, one Australian newspaper ran one of those dodgy online polls, in which about 80 percent of respondents said the chaos and dangers meant that the Australian team should not go to Delhi. Today, another paper ran a (similarly self-selected) poll in which fairly much the same proportion declared the Games a success. A lesson for those among our politicians who unduly heed fleeting fluctuations in public opinion.

Photo by Flickr user OneEighteen, used under a Creative Commons license.