By Arab News
Allegations connected with Delhi Games will adversely affect Indian economy
India’s Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna will not have been pleased to have had his Australian visit this week hijacked by demands from angry Australian companies that they have not been paid for work they did on last year’s controversial Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Unfortunately, had the minister visited anyone of over a dozen other countries, he would have very probably heard the self-same complaints.
It is important to say first of all that, against most expectations, the sporting fest in the Indian capital turned out to be a triumph of organization and infrastructure. Nevertheless, the chaos that dogged the preparations for the event – such as unfinished accommodation in a squalid state and the collapse of a pedestrian walkway under construction – seems to be returning. The games cost some $6 billion to stage and it is believed that many hundreds of millions of dollars owed to international as well as local Indian contractors remain unpaid, after the contractual settlement date of last October.
Now, some of these outstanding amounts may well be subject to legitimate dispute over the full delivery of the goods and services. These claims will rightly be settled in the courts. Nevertheless, it is quite clear from the sheer volume of overdue payments that the organizers are guilty of serial incompetence, if not graft and mendacity.
A properly run high-profile public body such as that in charge of the Delhi Games simply should not allow bad debts to accrue in this manner. Local commentators are clear that a combination of ineptitude, mendacity and corruption lies at the heart of the deeply unacceptable situation.
The Indian foreign minister’s embarrassment in Australia coincided with the news that a disgraced Indian bureaucrat in Madhya Pradesh had salted away $80 million from graft and a court order to demolish a 3-story Mumbai apartment block, which was only supposed to be six floors high and in which some apartments had been given to senior government officials.
India cannot afford to have its reputation besmirched with this chaos and payola. While private Indian firms are carving an international record for good business practices and transparent financial dealings, the national and state governmental machines are known for their wretched disorganization and corruption, the former no doubt designed to hide the latter. Indeed it now looks as if those who called for private Indian business to build and run the Delhi Games were entirely right.
Despite the fact that the Games themselves turned out to be a great success, the damage to India’s standing caused by the muddle and mess leading up to them, is now being compounded by the failure to settle debts run up around the world. The consequences for this vibrant and fast-growing economy will be serious and could affect the innocent private sector as well as the government. It will surely be a long time before India is ever trusted with another major international sporting event such as a football World Cup or an Olympic Games. This is a tragedy caused by greed and incompetence that should never have been permitted to happen.