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LET THE GAMES BEGIN -- BUT ONLY IF THEY'RE CLEAN

Molawchai

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LET THE GAMES BEGIN -- BUT ONLY IF THEY'RE CLEAN September 23 2010

VIENNA -- For at least the last quarter-century, success in hosting the much-heralded celebrations of international games and competitions of all sorts have become the bar by which countries are judged.

China, especially, has done exceedingly well in these spheres of human endeavor, and is now thrilling the world with extraordinary shows such as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

But right behind China has come the other big competitor in Asia, India. The two giants will compete over power in Asia -- or so the story goes.

However, I think that popular idea died away rather quickly this week. India, about to host the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on behalf of the former British commonwealth nations, revealed a little secret. It's a secret many of us have known, but not wanted to talk about. In fact, it's a DIRTY little secret.

But before we delve into those shadowy corners, let me recall the last time I was in India seven years ago. As I had often before in India, I got sick -- fiercely, terribly sick. No, I didn't drink the water or the milk. I brought all the right pills and attitudes. But the handsome young Indian doctor in the elegant Radisson Hotel in Delhi shook his head when he saw my pale, gray misery -- another sick one! "About a third of all our guests get this," he said cheerily, as he gave me something to defeat the putsch going on in my stomach.

A THIRD? I thought. In the Radisson! I wondered how many they must lose in the cheaper hotels.

The first time I went to China, in 1983, it was still the "old" China. Even in small cities not far from the capital, I slept on straw mattresses. (They're actually quite comfortable.)

I was stunned there, as in India, by the lethal lack of cleanliness. (So many older tourists were dying on their big Chinese trips at that time that it irreverently was called "Death by Duck.")

What riled and also fascinated me was how on earth they managed to get dirty fingerprints all over the INSIDE of the drinking glasses in the rooms? I never did figure out that little Chinese puzzle.

But unlike the complacent Indians, the Chinese were already beginning to wake up from their long sleep. When I left the country on my next trip, in 1984, and was saying goodbye to my wonderful guide and friend, Zhang Bihua, I told her I wished China luck. I then added, "And if I could give you anything, I'd wish for you a college for janitors."

She knew all too well how dirty China was then. She looked at me seriously and said softly, "You really do care about us, don't you?"

When I went back to China in the late 1990s, the Chinese had learned the hard lessons about cleanliness and world-class pretensions.

By the time China started showing off to the world with the Olympics and the recent extravagant Shanghai World Expo and all their fast trains and intricate roads, they had, so to speak, really cleaned up their act. So much so that the whole world was talking about the sparkling "New China."

Poor India. Facilities for the Commonwealth Games, which India had fought so hard to get and which are scheduled to start Oct. 3, with 8,000 athletes prepared to land in Delhi, were inspected this week by the long-suffering Commonwealth Games Federation's chief executive, Mike Hooper. He was quoted just about everywhere as saying that the fancy village that was to house the athletes was "absolutely ******" and "uninhabitable," with toilets that didn't work and bacteria that did.

At almost the same time, an important metal footbridge for pedestrians near the centerpiece Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed, injuring as many as 25 persons, while Delhi hospitals reported an outbreak of 2,000 cases of the rare and lethal Dengue fever.

Ahhh, but -- never dismiss the importance of PR and of getting right on top of the story!

Without losing a beat, Lalit Bhanot, the general secretary of the local organizing committee, responded, saying huffily of the foreigners: "They want certain standards of cleanliness. They may differ from my standards." (Apparently!) And Dalbir Singh, the mayor of the games village and a retired army major, called the foreigners' complaints "trivial" and said that the apartments simply reflected "a state of disuse."

You know, it's a funny thing about these international competitions: They really do what they're supposed to do -- they genuinely reflect the realities of the sponsoring countries, if harshly.

India is a magnificent country with breathtaking sights. The Indian people are multitalented and, in general, kind and genial. I like India. But the modern world calls for more than pretensions when it comes to good health; it demands a serious national state that is concerned with the cleanliness and healthiness of its people and places.

In short, it's way, way past time for India to clean up its act, which has now been laid out in all its tarnished embarrassment for the world to see.
uExpress.com: Georgie Anne Geyer by Georgie Anne Geyer -- (09/23/2010) LET THE GAMES BEGIN -- BUT ONLY IF THEY'RE CLEAN
 

ajpirzada

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btw they wont be as bad as they are thought to be.

once the event starts, ppl will forget about the collapsed bridge and will start looking for who gets how many medals...

we all know indian media specializes in creating hype
 

RajmaChawal

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btw they wont be as bad as they are thought to be.

once the event starts, ppl will forget about the collapsed bridge and will start looking for who gets how many medals...

we all know indian media specializes in creating hype
Exactly sir and some people are making hay while the sun shines. Once the games are over, it will all be praises only!
 

Spring Onion

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Exactly sir and some people are making hay while the sun shines. Once the games are over, it will all be praises only!
I will congrats you for the praises when games end and praises are showered but for the time being lets enjoy the fun.
 
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