We have all been profoundly shamed. The discovery of human excreta in the bathrooms of the new residences constructed for the Commonwealth Games brought home the rude but fundamental fact that we are wallowing in a mire. The symbolism hit the bullseye. The operating system of governance in its broadest definition has collapsed. The government and its utterly inept departments — peopled by officers with no credentials or concern for quality — have been exposed. No one is ever made accountable and the rot and the filth — both physical and attitudinal — are condoned, covered up and allowed to develop into a deadly disease. Bureaucrats, much like the dengue mosquitoes, bite and poison all projects and good endeavours.
To have to hear Lalit Bhanot, a senior executive of the organizing committee, say on national television that “standards of hygiene differ...” confirmed that the organizers know no better and have no business to be where they are. Most Indians want to bury their heads in shame after being told that the Games Village is in a mess. In any civilized and effective set-up, resignations would have followed such developments. Here, the men and women who have betrayed the country are mouthing excuses and airing views without any knowledge of the prevailing international standards. With the sensex going berserk, India is poised to become a real slumdog millionaire because the government has been unable to put in place a functioning and clean operating system that is people-friendly and built on the premise of integrity.
This reality of a rising rate of growth and a corrupt and corroded delivery system where ‘accountability’ is non-existent has led us into the worst anarchy imaginable. Leaders across political parties are sitting pretty in their plush ivory towers, and looking away when the horror confronts them. Committees are instituted and they die a natural death. Nothing changes, mediocrity is celebrated, quality is kicked on the shins, babus build walls around themselves and close ranks when exposed, decay is worshipped, feeble excuses are accepted by the political bosses; in all this, good governance becomes a mirage.
The CWG symbolizes this truth of supreme failure and massive corruption. Having made the lucre, no one cares a hoot. Municipalities have forced Indians to live in filthy conditions, minted money for themselves and delivered a corrupt and ineffective operating system that harasses ordinary Indians who have been compelled to learn how to ‘work the ropes’ to survive.
No leader has had the guts to introduce the reforms that have been suggested by numerous commissions, which were appointed at a huge cost to the exchequer. Be it the CWG or a small attempt at forging a partnership between professionals from civil society and one particular ministry of the government, the experience of having to deal with inept officers manipulating the venture at every level is another explicit example of the failure of governance.
Instead of taking on the challenge of the jobs at hand, many babus spend their time doing irrelevant and silly things, such as ‘correcting’ good English and converting it into gibberish only to ‘mark’ the copy; fiddling with the graphics executed by international professionals and then reducing the designs to rubbish that exposes the babus’ insensitivity and lack of aesthetics; changing fundamentals at the last moment to ensure messy ‘inaugurations’, à la government of India, only to salute themselves. The sticky web of sheer shame has engulfed the whole of our wonderful and energetic nation.