The infrastructural facilities, or the lack thereof, for the 2010 Commonwealth Games have been getting considerable coverage recently. There aren’t too many people in the capital who don’t have an opinion on the readiness of New Delhi for the Games. Amongst the barrage of quotes and counter-quotes, there’s one that stood out. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the stadia or the games village.
Forgotten in the hullabaloo about Delhi’s readiness, in tangible terms of stadia, public transport and other infrastructure, was the Home Minister, P Chidambaram’s observation that Delhi should mend its ways. This remark was made in reference to the way traffic rules are flouted by drivers all over the city’s roads. It seems, before the Home Minister, everyone forgot to tell the people of the city that they’re going to host an international event.
Public transport will be where foreign visitors will be the first place where they will interact with locals and see the real face of the city. And it’s not a pretty sight. Visitors from outside the city have to first worry about being fleeced by everyone possible. It is no secret that foreigners are seen as a source of ‘easy money’. Add to that the very temperamental auto-wallahs who simply refuse to take you to where you want to go. I wonder which other host city has public transport where the passengers are at the drivers’ mercy. The Metro, perhaps the only bright spark in the city’s transport system, is a good example of what is wrong. Getting into, and out of, crowded trains can be a battle in itself. And this is not just because the trains are crowded. People stick to the doors as if their magnetically drawn to them, even though the bogey itself may have sufficient space to stand. This coupled with everyone’s refusal to stand in line while waiting to enter the train make entering and exiting a quite complicated procedure.
The famed Indian hospitality has gone for a long walk some time ago. Sheila Dixit claims she can change people’s behaviour through a campaign. Exactly how futile that is going to be can be shown by something that a metro user recently encountered. A tourist in the metro, seeing the haphazard way in which people board and de-board the metro exclaimed, “Let them get off first!” This is the response it elicited- “This is India.”
So even if we do have world class infrastructure and are able to pull off the games by next year, we still have a big problem in terms of common courtesy and basic manners. So it’s time we woke up to this problem, which the government can’t do much about. It is up to us to wake up and realize how we can contribute to the Games. So Wake up Delhi