Cwg Impact on Delhi

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THE IMPACT OF THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2010 ON URBAN DEVELOPMENT OF DELHI Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management Vinayak UPPAL Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi, India Abstract India is all set to host the 2010 edition of the Commonwealth Games. This is the first major “hallmark event” to be hosted by New Delhi since the 1982 Asian Games. Hallmark events have the ability to transform the urban landscape of a city. This is the focus area of the paper. Can these games bring about a transformation of Delhi’s urban landscape, and if it does, will it do so in an egalitarian fashion? It also looks at worldwide experiences from various other hallmark experiences like the Summer Olympics and the Asian Games, and Delhi’s experience with hosting the 1982 Asian Games. What one finds is that these events are normally not as beneficial to the host community, as made out to be. More important in India’s context is that the benefits are normally even less when the host community is a developing nation, as India is. The enormous expenditure on these is going to be spent largely on the development of civic infrastructure, beautification, transport and sports facilities. If spent effectively, the event can be a catalyst in a much-needed urban regeneration of the city. However past experience from the 1982 Asian Games and actions already undertaken in the run up to the 2010 games suggest that the development may be anti-poor, badly planned and ecologically unsound. It is essential that whatever actions are undertaken in the name of the Commonwealth Games, are well thought out and not justified solely on the grounds of nationalist sentiment and hyperbole. Keywords: Commonwealth Games, Hallmark events, Delhi, Inequitable development, Developing Nations

Number 1(10)/2009

1. Introduction
In 2010, one year from now, New Delhi will play host to the third largest multi-sporting event in the world, with tens of thousands of visitors descending upon the city. To prepare itself for this, the city is planning a major overhaul of its urban infrastructure as well as its sporting facilities. These events happen in a city once in a decade or maybe even less, (the last large event held in Delhi was the 1982) and have the ability to transform it. Sports is now a very passionate and among many, an obsessive subject. In the run up to the Football World Cup 2006, the theme of football as a unifying religion has been played up numerous times in the media. Academicians even postulate that „religious pilgrimages of the past have been replaced by modern pilgrimages to such spectacles as the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and other such events’ (Gibson, 1998). Sporting events have now indeed become “spectacles”, and with over 5 billion



viewers expected, can give the host community a lot of exposure. India however still remains to make its mark on the world as a sporting nation. With the exception of cricket, and a handful of gifted individuals, Indians have performed quite miserably on the world stage. If one was to examine the last Olympics medal tally by population, that is, population divided by number of medals, India comes last by an enormous margin. Even after the 1982 Asian Games, which gave a dramatic boost to sports facilities in the country, our performance is yet to match international standards. There are, therefore, some hard questions that need to be answered before one can conclude that such an event has a positive effect on the host community. Is the amount spent on such events worth it? One must remember that the funds that typically go into supporting these events are public funds and therefore should benefit society at large, or at least a large portion, and not just an elite minority. Some other questions that arise out of...
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