Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta marvellously invoke the line about the Commonwealth being “a body searching for a purpose”, and apply that to Delhi’s appropriation of the Games as a symbol of India’s new place in the world order. They trace the origins and contours of the Delhi Games inside a wider picture of the Games being part of a complex, even conflicted “Commonwealth” organisation.

Sellotape Legacy: Delhi and
the Commonwealth Games
Boria Majumdar, Nalin Mehta
HarperCollins; Rs 450
The book begins with the current state of Delhi’s organisation on the eve of the event. Majumdar and Mehta then trace the evolution of the Commonwealth Games inside the Commonwealth project itself, before tracing India’s place in the Commonwealth as driven by Nehru’s foreign policy. The book concludes with an assessment of India’s current sporting condition.

The opening sections on the Games will attract most interest because the costs alone are staggering. From official figures they suggest that the original cost estimate of approximately $1.3billion has mushroomed to $15billion. That will make the Games seven times more expensive than Melbourne in 2006 and demonstrably the most expensive Commonwealth in Games history.

That $15billion figure is instructive. It matches the Andhra Pradesh government’s 2015 target for IT exports; the Union Government’s revenue for the recent sale of its 3G mobile phone spectrum; and the current level of the national subsidy for agricultural fertiliser. Union and Delhi governments think the Games are important, then.

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