Sunday, October 3, 2010

CWG opening was spectacular and exceeded expectations, still the international media only talks about snakes and dengue. Why?

Okay, I must admit that the last few months have been tough for us Indians. A few words out of my limited vocabulary would describe the wave of emotion as: awe, shame, anger, contempt, helplessness, frustration and regret. Some of us were prompted to voice our anguish, many of us decided to laugh at the situation (who doesn’t like some fresh jokes and a good laugh?), while most of us just shrugged our heads in disapproval- talked about it over chai and coffee and then forgot about it because the truth is: why bother about something that you cannot change anyway, we all have problems of our own thank you very much.

But lets face it- we may wear tank tops, drink lattes and martinis, listen to Black eyed Peas and Lady Gaga, have cool accents, be born and brought up in the west (or down under) or be ever ready to board the next flight out of the country at receiving an acceptance letter. YET, somewhere deep down – or deep deep down, it stings.

It’s the same part of you that becomes grim when India loses by 2 runs or Sachin gets out at 98,  or when a handful of foreigners manage to create havoc in a couple of the best hotels in the country and kill hundreds of people in a go. The same part of you that jolts with pride when Sania Mirza wins a match in that cute mini-skirt, or when your European-kiwi buddy hums the lyrics of the song – Jai Ho at work (and knows them better than you, by the way).

And that same part felt a tinge of happiness and pride at seeing the grand CWG opening yesterday. A sigh of relief, a sigh of “finallly”. Finally we rose up to the occasion and delivered. You still feel humiliated at what has happened and know that the damage has been done. You boo at Suresh Kalmadi and tell Mrs. Dikshit she is going down in the next elections Nonetheless, the ceremony gave us all a moment of glory and pride. I won’t call it a ray of hope, but certainly a moment to hold our heads high because finally we have shown to the world that India is not all about corruption, disorganisation, dengue, snakes and slums. We have a culture, a history and a diversity that one cannot even start to describe in words. And most importantly, no matter what happens, at the end of the day we have what it takes to pull up our pants and put on a good show.

Unfortunately, the international media still reports CWG as a field of unsafe structures and broken bridges. The main headlines still talk about dengue and snakes. The Guardian and Independent have no mention of the games. NZherald describes the ceremony as ‘noise and colours’, major focus still being on dengue and snakes. The Age writes a few lines about the ceremony and wraps it up with a big question mark on India. The Dawn, very cleverly, mentions a series of hiccups that have taken place in CWG games preparation and then reports that the games have now been inaugurated without a single comment on the ceremony. After all that has happened, one would expect the common man in the world to hold a long lasting prejudice against India. And the media always has an undeniable influence on those prejudices and opninions. The media has a bigger responsibilty of being just – criticising where necessary and appreciating where deserved. In all fairness, it takes a backbone to stand up and deliver a spectacular event after being burried deep in such a predicament. Not everyone can do that, and the world needs to acknowledge it. We may have our own baggage of problems but we also fight them better than anyone else can. And we are proud of it.

Ten more days of scrutiny left. Fingers crossed