Premji and Aiyer can go take a walk…

…or a sprint

It is becoming increasingly clear that while the Commonwealth Games are rife with corruption, I am not quite certain what the ‘concerned' people are barfing about. Some of it I discussed in Play it again, scam.

Today, Azim Premji was interviewed on the subject. Why Premji, chairman of Wipro, the computer etc manufacturers? As a citizen, he has every right to question the nasty deals. But he has not done that. He is complaining about money spent on infrastructure for the CWG, yet he forgets the same is done when some middling leader from the West arrives here. Besides, why this balancing act of ifs and buts?


“The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympics, are a celebration of the human spirit of excellence. Therefore, in itself, the Games are a worthy endeavour.

However, given the thousands of crores being spent on the Delhi Commonwealth Games, we need to ask if this is money spent wisely. As a country, we are constantly forced to compromise on funds. For instance, India needs more schools, and the existing schools need better infrastructure and more teachers….

How can we forget that for Rs 28,000 crore we could have established primary schools and health centres in tens of thousands of villages? Can we ignore this splurge the next time a malnourished child looks at us in the eye?”

How many malnourished children look us in the eye? If the Games are a worthy endeavour, then why is he diverting the issue to other aspects? Does he ask the same eye-popping questions when five-star hotels are built, new industries come up, and villages are wiped out to make way for factories? These are private enterprises – does that make them immune to accountability? And, they do need to get governmental approval. Ever heard Premji come down on these and discuss schools and healthcare?

“The capital already boasts of some of India’s best infrastructure. Instead of spending crores to widen Delhi’s roads, should we not prioritize building roads and schools in Bihar where none exist in the first place?”

I think Bihar’s CM Nitish Kumar will want to do a double-take on this. The places Azim Premji has visited in Delhi may have the best infrastructure, but has he been to Yamuna ke uss paar…the other side? Instead of rubbishing Bihar, he might like to check out the level of poverty in Delhi. Only because it is the capital does not mean the ordinary citizen gets the benefits.

“At times like these, it will serve our leaders well to recall Gandhiji’s talisman: ‘Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?’”

I assume Mr. Azim Premji’s computers will wipe out illiteracy and give the poor control over their lives.

As a related aside, has he asked our prime minister* how the nuclear deal will not help the poor?

- - -

This brings us to Mani Shankar Aiyer who is on a roll, thanks to the CWG. This is from a report where he:

…questioned the rationale of Delhi hosting the event and said it would have been a “very good answer” to insurgents if it would have been held in Manipur.

This is not even smart; it is idiotic. It is the people of Manipur who have to be given an answer by his government, a political answer. Where was he when the National Highway was closed and provisions could not reach the people? This sort of muscle-flexing does not make sense if you know that the insurgents are fighting several elements within and outside.

He wants to play games with them, then he can go there and have a chat and a friendly match of some kind. Why is he giving a lecture to Delhi University students about it? Talk to the Manipuris, ask them if they would have liked a little infrastructure, some beautified roads. whitewashed buildings, new stadia, potted plants, lots of toilet paper. And, yes, he can revert to his bosses in New Delhi, who still keep him in business, and check whether they can provide the requisite security to the players, the visitors and sports enthusiasts.

Aiyer wondered why such mega events come back to Delhi again and again. Even if it is organised here, he asked, why localities on the outskirts like Bawana are ignored.

Where is Bawana? Does Azim Premji know about it? And why is Aiyer so attached to it all of a sudden? Does Bawana have the space? Would it provide for the needs of such competitive sports? Why has his government not done anything for Bawana?

To show just how he means business, he poses a challenge:

“There are 37 days to go in which the government has to fill the gaps to ensure a spectacular Games which it has promised us. I am content to wait. The Games will last for 15 days. I will come back. Neither are you going away nor I am going away.”

He had promised to “get the hell out of” the city. I hope he goes to a place where he has a huge TV screen and can watch the games. If we know a little about him and about our media, then be sure there will be a satellite link conveniently connected to him for his sound bites. He will be on call 24/7 just to tell the world that it has been a useless exercise.

I hope that before leaving he ensures that the residents of Bawana have dish TV so that they can welcome him when he decides to move residence there to show his allegiance to lesser souls. We aren’t going anywhere, Mr. Aiyer, but we assume you will not let us down. Go, Bawana, go!

End note:

Did TOI have to mention in the headline: ‘I am not a US stooge, says PM’? Did he use those words? Manmohan Singh used the passive voice for the important part.

*“To say that this has been brought to promote American interests, to promote American corporations, I think, this is far from the truth. I beg of this House to pass this bill with unanimity.”

Having said this, it is truly unfortunate that he has to stoop in Parliament before colleagues, that too for a bad deal.

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