The Commonwealth Games apart from providing fodder to the sensationalist media has raised more profound questions, which have not been raised with the required sharpness. There are definitely questions about the working conditions of people employed to make this extravaganza a success which will have to be answered not only by the Indian Government but also by the nations who swear by their better labour laws because by participating in it they have virtually said without uttering a word that it is only the end product which matters and not how that product comes into being. However, there are fundamental questions about the very issue of whether the Games should have been organized or not.
There was a voice of strong dissent within Congress Party, which not only shared the bounty generated by the Games but also played an important role to spread the message of how it was good for the country. But that voice of dissent was stuck within the framework of a welfarist gentleman being uncomfortable with neoliberal inhumanity. His opposition has not even been heard except when the media needed to show that there was some excitement in the whole exercise. In fact, once, one of the key faces of a English channel even told him on a show not to philosophise whatever has been happening because they wanted an objective analysis of the falling down of a footbridge near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. This voice while exposed the farcical priorities of the state, which prefered spending on Games rather than education, health or even seriously addressing the sporting issues. But why such an event, which threw all labour concerns to winds, had to happen now? Why did an expenditure running into thousands of crores had to be spent when over fifty percent of Indian masses live below poverty article?
There have been visible signs of a well thought out process of how cities and economies behave under neoliberal capitalism. A restructuring of the city landscape happened over past one decade or so across the country – eviction of poor, massive investment into infrastructure (meaning massive subsidization of private capital by the state), legislature, executive and judiciary all have been involved in this project of reconfiguring city spaces. The banks of river Yamuna was cleared of slums because, and now one can see that clearly, the spaces under control of poor citizens had to be handed over to the private capital. The slums near Nehru Place or the one near Alaknanda had to be cleared for the same reason. This handing over may not appear direct many a times because the private capital also operates discreetly.
Commonwealth Games has only been another strategy along with many others to strengthen the occupation of public spaces and commons by private capital. This occupation has been dexterously carried out using the social and political identities as well. For instance, the way national identities have been invoked time and again during this whole process need not be repeated. The Games were touted as an event necessary for our national identity and pride. Issue is not about trivialization of national identity through attaching it to organization of an event but it is about showing how the invocation of national identity prevented even the Indian Left from opposing such an initiative. In fact, its leaders were saying that there should have been a more centralized control of the whole process rather than posing questions about whether we needed such an event. All political formations, barring some, were quiet when national identity was being used to promote private capital.