PR disaster for India: athletes’ residential complex at big international sporting event “unfit for human habitation”; many athletes pulling out

But the game organizer and chief spokesman declares: “Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The westerners have different standards, we have different standards.” That’s reassuring!

The story comes from AFP.

(After the AFP article, be sure to read Vivek G.’s excellent comment on the underlying problems of modern India and the lively discussion that follows it.)

Delhi C. Games in crisis as bridge collapses

NEW DELHI (AFP)—The Delhi Commonwealth Games were plunged into crisis Tuesday 12 days from the start after the athletes’ village was described as “uninhabitable” and a footbridge collapsed at the main stadium.

Adding to the sense of chaos that has enveloped an event India hoped would project its new economic power on the international stage, a leading Australian athlete pulled out of the competition because of security fears.

Organisers scrambled to contain the damage, fearful that a pullout by a major team could wreck the October 3-14 multisport showcase that has long been dogged by delays, corruption allegations and anxiety about safety.

Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, led stinging criticism about the athletes’ residential towers, which will embarrass the government that has admitted that the country’s prestige is on the line.

“They’re filthy. You can’t occupy them. They need a deep clean. There’s builders’ dust and rubble in doorways, shower doors the wrong way round, toilets that don’t work,” he said just two days before athletes begin arriving.

There was also “excrement in places it shouldn’t be”, referring to problems thought to be the result of thousands of labourers using the toilets in the “certainly uninhabitable” residential complex.

Complaints about cleanliness, plumbing and electrics were also made by other countries that have arrived early in the Indian capital, including Scotland which described the village as “unsafe and unfit for human habitation”.

“The reality is that if the village is not ready and athletes can’t come, the implications are that it’s not going to happen,” New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie told New Zealand commercial radio.

“It’s pretty grim really and certainly disappointing when you consider the amount of time they had to prepare.”

Thousands of workers have been labouring around the clock to finish sports facilities and the athletes’ village, as well as to clear up piles of building rubble that still litter large parts of the capital.

At the main Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which will host the opening ceremony and athletics, an under-construction footbridge collapsed on Tuesday, injuring 23 labourers, five seriously, police said.

The approximately 100-metre (328-foot) bridge, built to link the car park to the stadium, fell down as workers were paving it, a labourer at the scene told AFP.

“I saw several people with bleeding arms and injuries on their bodies being taken away,” construction worker Zakir Hussein told AFP.

Building work for the games, expected to draw 7,000 athletes and officials from countries which were mostly in the former British empire, has been severely delayed and doubts have been raised before about the quality of the construction.

India’s chief anti-corruption body found a host of problems with construction work in a July investigation, including dubious contracts and the use of poor quality materials.

The other main worry about the games has been the risk of attacks by militant groups that target India, with anxiety raised at the weekend after a gun assault outside Delhi’s main mosque that left two Taiwanese men injured.

Australian discus world champion Dani Samuels pulled out Tuesday because of security and health concerns, her coach was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press on Tuesday.

“Dani is extremely distressed about it all,” Samuels’ manager Hayden Knowles told the agency.

“The situation in Delhi has been bothering her for some time … But the events over the weekend made it real,” he said.

Samuels, 22, won the gold medal in discus throwing in the 2009 World Championships in Germany.

Other star athletes such as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt have already decided not to come.

The president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell, opened the criticism Tuesday with a damning statement that said several nations had been “shocked” by the “seriously compromised” games village.

The Indian organising committee attempted to reassure athletes.

Lalit Bhanot, organising committee secretary-general and official spokesman for the games, stressed that the village was “probably one of the best ever”.

“The athletes will arrive here from the evening of September 23 and we are doing our best to clean the entire village well in time,” he said.

“Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The westerners have different standards, we have different standards.”

[end of AFP article]

- end of initial entry -

LL, who sent the story, writes:

I would love to hear what your correspondent, Indian Living in the West, who is always so critical of the West, has to say about this. “Different standards about cleanliness,” indeed.

LA replies:

In ILW’s defense, he writes as someone who loves the West, Britain in particular, and is distressed at how it is destroying itself.

Vivek G. writes:

America has a lot to learn from India, especially regarding what not to do!

The great ideals championed by the liberals were implemented in India decades ago, and have been in operation for about 63 years. These include Secularism (read anti-majority-ism coupled with aggressive minority-appeasement), Social-Justice (read perpetual affirmative action with reservations in education and jobs rising to more than 50 percent, with more groups waiting to be awarded additional reservation) and the likes. An Indian Living in the West (ILW) is absolutely on the dot in relation to Islam in India in another recent post of yours. But the tragedy does not end there! It is not only Muslims who vote as a block. It is all the recipients of appeasement and affirmative-action who form vote-banks. Politicians pander to the demands of these vote-banks, and thus the result of appeasement and affirmative action is not any alleviation of any problem, but more appeasement and more affirmative action. [LA replies: sounds like India needs a Tea Party!]

So what does it all result in? There are dwindling standards of quality in all spheres. I recall your post regarding your experience with a call center-employee based in India. National Security is in shambles. Islamic nations and China in the neighborhood are planning an ambush, while our political elite keep talking about utopia! The system is heading for a crash! And we are surprised that it has not happened already!

We had a national security disaster two years ago (Mumbai 11/26/08). What was the outcome? Appeasement continues, Islam remains a religion of peace. It may surprise you that a bridge built for the international sporting event collapsed today (Sept 21, 2010), and about 20 people died! It does not surprise us at all! What surprises us is that why something similar did not happen a decade or two ago! The ministers and the politicians shamelessly fill their coffers with money gained through corruption. They have abundant confidence that they can do anything they like and get away with it. What do right-minded people experience? They experience helplessness and the accompanying agony while waiting for the seeming inevitable.

I am not a prophet of doom. Nevertheless, I think that it is very important for American people to learn from this sad example of India, and act quickly to avoid an analogous downslide. The journey on Path-to-National-Suicide seems very very slow in the beginning, however as things worsen, the speed gains rapidly, almost exponentially! And that is the danger that must be avoided. You may have only one percent Muslims now, but you will be rudely woken up from your slumber by the afternoon prayers from a mosque only to realize that there are more than 20 percent Muslims lurking in your neighborhoods and backyards! I often feel that Muslims also have some strategy of cheating these national censuses. They seem to be below-5-percent and within 10-20 years they become more than 20 percent. And remember, even at five percent, every twentieth person is a potential terror threat. Likewise there may be only five percent reservation in education and jobs, but before your bat an eyelid you will have doctors who can’t distinguish between intra-venous and intra-muscular injections.

It is not the time to panic, but it neither is the time for being complacent. It’s like act-now or repent-later, except that in the case of Islam there may remain no non-Muslims to repent!

N. writes:

Vivek G. prompts me to recall that India was founded in 1947 as a Socialist state, with a tiny handful of very wealthy people governing a huge mass of very poor. It remained Socialist for at least 30 if not 40 years; recall Indira Ghandi peddling vasectomies in the late 1960s / early 1970s by giving away transistor radios to men who would agree to the surgery?

Recall also that India was allied with the Soviet Union for decades, largely as a counterweight to Communist China to be sure, but Soviet central planning may have been a factor in Indian governmental thinking as well. We look at India today and see it modernizing, but as Vivek G. reminds us there is much that hangs over from the 1940s, when Socialism was thought to be the wave of the future.

It should be no surprise to us that India has embraced the notion of equality of result vs. equality of opportunity, given the spoils-system Socialism that was put in place at the very beginning of the modern Indian state. If the Saudis are funding mosques and madrassas in India as they are known to be doing in Bangladesh, then I very much fear at some point there will be an open civil war within India long the lines of the 1947 “partition war.”

Richard P. writes:

I’ve spent a lot of time in India on business in the last few years—often for several weeks at a stretch. From my purely Western point-of-view, Vivek G. is right on the money in his description. In the cities you basically have walled-in hyperwealthy enclaves, middle-class apartment complexes, and slums. There is far less of the varying degrees between economic classes that you see here. As for some of Vivek G.’s other points:

  • Affirmative action is a huge factor in life for most Indians and is talked about and fought over constantly. There it is called “the reservation system.” A percentage of college slots, government jobs, and even many private jobs are under strict quota by ethnicity, religion, or class (caste). On almost every trip I hear news reports of some group trying to get a new designation to receive a reservation quota. It reminds me a lot of the situation here when American Indian tribes were allowed to own casinos. Suddenly there were tribes popping up everywhere.

  • Ethnic and religious violence is a constant. Every so often some group does something to offend another group and so-called “communal riots” break out. If the police can’t get control in a few hours then usually the military has to come in and take control. These riots can happen without warning. Sometimes a rumor can set them off.

  • Corruption is rampant. Almost anyone in a government position expects bribes as a matter of routine. It’s almost considered a cost of doing business. When you hear stories about some Westerner who ends up in jail or other trouble there, it is usually because they were ignorant of this fact and behaved like they would have at home. Mostly they are young idealistic tourists. We have had a lot of fun laughing at Western hippie tourists who are harrassed because they were too dumb to take the hint and kick out a little cash. Customs officers provide especially good entertainment.

  • Rules and laws are flouted by everyone. Lane markers and traffic signs are largely ignored. I’ve had friends visit from India who were shocked that people actually stop at stop signs and red lights when on empty streets. Likewise, there is very little sense of order in most public places. The checkout counters at most shops and cafes don’t have much of a line. Instead it usually is more like a mob pressing forward.

On a positive note, religions other than Islam are not silenced or submissive by any means. Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, etc. are more than willing to practice publicly and say exactly what they think. Of course the reason for this is that everyone knows that every other group is willing to turn violent to protect their own perceived interests. And they do. A lot.

A colleague on a trip last year was complaining about many of these things and said he was glad we didn’t have to deal with them. I said to him “You’d better learn to deal with it. You’re looking at our future.”

Stewart W. writes:

In addition to the points brought up by Vivek G., there is another problem that India will never be able to overcome. If you refer to “IQ and the Wealth of Nations,” India’s average IQ is listed as 81. No amount of affirmative action can overcome that handicap.

I work in the information technology field, and as you may be aware, there are many Indians flooding the IT market right now, both as immigrants and as outsourced functions operating from India. As a result, many of my colleagues in California are enamored of the supposed intellect of the Indians. I have tried, with varying degrees of success, to point out the fault in that perception, which is based solely on the stupendous native population in India. I recall a Gartner group meeting of IT leaders, in which a topic of discussion was “India vs. China: Which is better prepared for global IT dominance.” I was the only person in the audience that pointed out that, with China’s 100 average IQ, India didn’t stand a chance. With over 1.2 billion people and an average of 81, India had to carry a lot of baggage with it in the global market.

Of course, if the West continues to import low-IQ tribesmen, the situation in India becomes an even more relevant warning.

An Indian living in the West writes:

There is so much to say here that I feel as though I need to gather my thoughts for an entire day before I write something.

But some initial thoughts:

I would love to hear what your correspondent, Indian Living in the West, who is always so critical of the West, has to say about this. “Different standards about cleanliness,” indeed.

That is a funny comment. At times during my business dealings in Britain or conversations with British friends I get this kind of comment. And my question to them is; “Is this the best you can come up with? Comparing yourself to India?” But seriously. We know Britain or America is finished when that becomes the standard by which to judge. For me, if you are an advanced nation, the countries against which you judge your own nation are: Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and now to some extent South Korea. Their organisational efficiency as a people is what one needs to judge oneself against if one considers one’s own country (whether Britain or France or America) to be an advanced nation.

What I’ve written about numerous times is how the West is going in the wrong direction. Not that India is better than the West. I have never been and never can be a stupid tub-thumping mindless Indian nationalist. I don’t need Westerners to tell me how things work in India. That’s where I grew up, where I live and even today spend a good deal of my time! People in the West only find out about these things by reading the press. You can collect every negative press article about India and stack it in a pile and I will tell you how that does not even begin to describe things on the ground. That is not even 1 percent of what the reality of India really is (and by that I mean the bad stuff).

So my point is: I write as an observant foreigner who has read an enormous amount of Western history. I know more American history than 90 percent of educated Americans I have met. I am not saying this to blow my own trumpet. But only to point out that I have had a deep and abiding interest in the West. Take the West away from me, as an agnostic Indian who is not connected with my own country’s religious or mythical traditions, and there is nothing of intellectual interest left for me. The problem today is that Westerners have no conception of what they have already lost. This is because since the 1960s, successive generations have been separated from their own history and from where they have come. They have only been told that the past was bigotry, racism, homophobia, colonialism and exclusion. So when I converse even with Westerners who are concerned about the state of their own countries, very few rarely speak out of an abiding love of their past. If you don’t love your past, you have no future as a people. How many people truly understand that?

I grew up with a deep admiration for Anglo-America. This was not taught to me at school or by my family. I explored America and the history of its people as a matter of deep intellectual curiosity. And I loved reading about it. At one stage, as a college student, I knew more about the history of Britain and America than India! And actually, my reading of Anglo-America is what lead me to a reading of Britain because that is where America really originated. And it all came together and made so much more sense when I saw the continuity of “Anglo” ( by which we mean British) institutions even in America post-revolution.

Sorry for this long rambling reply. But if you get offended comments from your readers, this is a kind of reference point people can go back to see where I stand.

In response to Vivek G., sometimes I read his posts and I have to pinch myself to check whether I did not write them myself! He is right about India—almost every single word uttered in that post is 150 percent correct. But there is more to it than that.

I am actually happy that the Commonwealth Games are on the verge of being canceled. This should happen. It should serve as a reminder to a bunch of ignorant marketers in the West who like pushing an “Indian story” to sell all kinds of junk, including lousy investments. But also, Indians have a habit of believing their own bullshit. The papers in India and the media are obsessed with India’s image in the Western world. And if Westerners believe some bullshit about India, Indians start believing it too. Even if they actually stop for a moment to think and know that what they believe in is patently and utterly false. The whole nation has been drinking kool-aid pumped by the English language journalist idiots who cannot get enough of the rose-tinted drivel the West has been serving itself with on India.

While I agree with everything Vivek G. wrote (and has written before about India), I do not subscribe to his ultra-gloomy outlook on India. I am not a foolish deluded optimist but I am also a realist. I think that the future is unpredictable. I don’t think India will ever be a “superpower” or some other nonsense like that. I do not believe that it will ever become the world’s wealthiest or most advanced country. But I also do not immediately conclude that the country will simply disintegrate and fall apart. Growing up as a member of a wealthy and highly educated family (that had more knowledge of other nations and the outside world than even most educated people in the country back then), I got fed an enormous amount of doom and gloom about the country from an early age. I never heard the end of it and still don’t. But while many of those views were based on fact, the most negative of them and the most negative predictions did not come true (or haven’t come true yet). India is a ramshackle and screwed up country but it has survived despite all the odds. It is resilient. And it has never had a military coup or a violent revolution. That is no minor achievement. But more than that, I have seen how rapidly some things have improved in India from the time I was growing up (which was not that long ago). To me that is an important reference point and must not be forgotten—I don’t forget the past and haven’t forgotten what it was. Most villages didn’t have phones, let alone mobile phones.

Vivek is right about India’s problems but the biggest immediate problem is the current government. It is one thing to say that they subscribe to the ridiculous liberal ideology that has already damaged the country so much. But it is much much worse than that. Deep down they are a bunch of venal nihilists who believe in nothing other than the accumulation of illegal wealth through bribes and tax evasion. That is what ultimately lies at the rotten, sick core of the disgusting, ugly Congress Party and its bankrupt ideology—that is what remains of Gandhi’s political movement today. I can assure you that although a different government cannot simply change the character of the country, had the country been ruled by the Hindu Nationalist BJP during the seven year period in which the “preparations” for these games were supposedly being made, the games would have been a success (Indians can organise games successfully—the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi were a success and back then India was nowhere near as wealthy or financially capable as it is today). This is not because the Hindu Nationalists are supermen but because there are still those among them who have a kind of pride in their country and believe in something larger than themselves. This is one man who, had he been Prime Minister, would have made the games a roaring success.

If the games are canceled, this will be a good development. The humiliation of the country will discredit this rotten, corrupt, venal and sick government and the media (which is 99 percent pro-Congress. No surprises there eh? Funny how things work—change the country from America to India but the biases of the media remain the same). A colossal failure like this will go a long way towards dislodging the disgusting and venal Congress and may spark a revival in the fortunes of Hindu Nationalists and some public spirited leaders (and believe me, such men do exist in India in droves)—I have met families that have expected nothing from the country and have sent their sons to heroically die in battle. That is why I have not given up on the country.

Vivek G. is right that China is the most dangerous and biggest long term threat to the very survival of India (much more dangerous than Islam). And actually, not just India but also Russia, Japan and many other nations in Asia. I was ignorant about China and its role in Asia until recently. China has to be countered but I do not believe that total victory for the Chinese government in having its own way and its strategic goals of destroying Russia and India will succeed. It is not a foregone conclusion. The future is hard enough to predict as it is. I desist from making any bold predictions.

D. from Seattle writes:

ILW said in the last paragraph of his comment: “Vivek G. is right that China is the most dangerous and biggest long term threat to the very survival of India (much more dangerous than Islam). And actually, not just India but also Russia, Japan and many other nations in Asia. I was ignorant about China and its role in Asia until recently. China has to be countered but I do not believe that total victory for the Chinese government in having its own way and its strategic goals of destroying Russia and India will succeed. It is not a foregone conclusion … ”

That is a very interesting observation about China, because it seems to me that ILW has formed it based on extensive studying of the subject, not based on some casual observations or “feelings.” It would be great if he were willing to share some references so that your other readers who are interested in the subject can do their own studying without having to start from scratch.

N. writes:

Indian Living In The West writes:

“India is a ramshackle and screwed up country but it has survived despite all the odds. It is resilient. And it has never had a military coup or a violent revolution.”

Perhaps it is accurate to say that India never has had a coup or a violent revolution, but the partitioning of the country after 1947 into India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan certainly was something very close to either a violent revolution or a civil war. And we all know that the reason for that violence was essentially Islamic at the root.

It is not impossible that a second partition war could occur.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 21, 2010 11:31 AM | Send

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