As I watched the ad riddled DD telecast of the opening ceremony, I pondered at what the moment could have been but wasn't. It could have been a big fillip to Indian nationalism within the country and a rise in India's stature outside of it. But all I could think of was "The emperor has no clothes".
Which is exactly why the CWG games are a success. Because our news channels have done a splendid job in creating a prolonged and collective sense of disgust and disappointment by sustained, sensational coverage. An NYT piece picks up this sentiment: "The litany of problems plaguing the games — collapsed footbridges, filthy dorms, cartoonish corruption — have not only made headlines around the world. They have left Indians to wonder why a country so promising in so many regards is incapable of organizing a signature event when the eyes of the world are focused on it."
I won't dwell more on that because it's just another predictable government failure. What's more interesting is that the media has found it so profitable to make our government a global spectacle. As that article calls it, "India’s hyperactive media have gleefully documented the infighting". While we've always had good media freedom, the fact that there's now a large, elite audience lapping up sustained government bashing is encouraging. The last time I felt that the media had such a big impact on our thinking was the Bombay terror attacks.
For an extreme counter example, contrast how China's govt. handled criticism during the Beijing Olympics. From an '08 editorial in NYT: "China has jailed critics, denied visas and threatened news organizations that negative coverage could jeopardize their chance to cover the Games.". And this after China had reportedly displaced 1.5 million people for the games!
While it's true that the more ghastly aspects of the CWG haven't made it to prime time, the middle class in Delhi should have suffered enough that it's possible that the city is forever finished as a venue for international sporting extravaganzas. A new generation of Indians has absorbed the idea - the hard way - that events like these are not a bed of roses. Our future governments will be extremely wary of taking on such endeavours because the media could slaughter them. What's not to like? :)
- Why the CWG games are a success