Thursday, September 23, 2010


Two days ago, on September 19, I drove under the rainbow bridge that fell. Gleaming in the last rays of the evening sun, it looked shiny and new. A little further, the stunning contours of the spanking new Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium shimmered in the silken hue of light beams dancing along its walls, and I remember thinking, ‘no matter how big the mess we get ourselves into, we somehow always manage to come out looking good’. Perhaps the Games would turn out fine. Yes, the guilty will end up saving face and more in the bargain but that’s a battle we can save for later. For now, I wanted to get into the spirit of the Games. I even thought of picking up tickets for a few of the disciplines. And then, today morning, the bridge fell.

Today, I entreat you, not to go for the Games.

Enough has been said about the filth in the rooms, the crores plundered in the tenders, the potholes on the roads and the terrible shards of mangled infrastructure that’ll keep pricking no matter how much you sweep it under the carpet. Let the Games not happen, some said. Let the country lose face. Only then would the guilty be lynched. But that wasn’t reason enough to stop me from going to the Games. My Bolshevik buddies said we shouldn’t be celebrating our colonial enslavement in the guise of the Games, but then we can’t change history, I said, so why spoil the party now. My relatives said we should avoid the Games. There might be terror attacks, and yet I wanted to go. Chetan Bhagat wrote that we shouldn’t go for the Games in protest against the rampant corruption that has embarrassed the country. And I still wanted to go and support Vijender, Sushil and Suranjoy as they hopefully romped to victory. I wanted to feel the rush of adrenalin as my voice became one with the crowd as we cheered our heroes on, and for a rare moment, with the tri-colour fluttering overhead and the national anthem beating in my heart and resounding in the auditorium, I wanted to feel like an Indian again, proud and one with my fellow countrymen, together in that moment of pride and glory. But today, I insist, don’t go to the Games! Don’t go if you are a fan who wants to enjoy the spectacle or the spirit of the Games. And though I know what I ask of you is a near impossibility, don’t go if you are an athlete seeking glory at these Games, because these Games are not about you and me at all but about betrayal, a rape of faith, and shame, for no matter how many medals we win, we already have lost honour and pride (and I pray we lose no lives).

Don’t go, because these Games could kill you. It’ll indeed be a miracle if some more bridges, roofs and stadium wings don’t come crashing down before the Games are over. It’ll be divine intervention indeed if there are no major accidents or if nothing catches fire during these Games. And it’ll be a miracle we’ll all be grateful for if no one dies at the Games, for chances are that some one will, either when a roof caves in or when a bomb sneaks in. Why, with the look of things, even the food could kill you if you aren’t careful, because someone somewhere was too greedy and too lazy to do his job.

At times like these, I wonder if it makes sense to want to live in this country. Don’t get me wrong. I love this land and its enchanting beauty in diversity. And without penning odes to all that is good about our country, let me assure you that I’m as much in love with and proud of our heritage, our humaneness, our potential, and our iconic stature as you are, but sometimes this sense of betrayal is so strong that I wonder… ‘why bother?’ It isn’t just the Commonwealth Games. The mess the Games are in just reinforce the feeling that we Indians are always taken for granted by those who we elect to run this country.

Take the case of honey. Last week, Centre for Science and Environment came up with the shocking revelation that honey sold by most brands, Indian and foreign, contain unhealthy levels of antibiotics that are deemed unfi t for human consumption in most countries. Apparently, there are no rules or directives laid down by the government to control levels of toxins in honey meant for human consumption in India. Now, that hurt, but one could forgive that as oversight in a developing economy. But what really cuts deep is the realisation that it isn’t oversight but apathy. You see, the government doesn’t care about the harm the honey we buy might do to our bodies. But the same government ensures that when these very same honey brands are exporting their wares, strict quality standards are adhered to and the honey is free of drugs and pesticide contamination. It’s not they don’t know. It’s just that they don’t care. You and I don’t matter.

Then there’s asbestos, a known carcinogen which is banned in most countries. But government after government has been bought out by the asbestos lobby and ships carrying asbestos that would be turned away from most international ports are welcomed in India without a thought spared for the lethal ailments that proximity to asbestos can engender. Once again, you and I don’t matter.

And then, of course, is the issue of national security. Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and even Denmark and Philippines have been in the crosshairs of various militant groups with far greater intensity than perhaps India. And yet, while every attempt to cause death and destruction has been foiled in these countries by their conscientious security and intelligence agencies, in India, bombs have been exploding with the sort of consistent impunity that convinces you that you are on your own. The only ones whose security matters are those with Z + security. So while our taxes pay for their protection, you and I will have to wing it with our blood group in our pockets and a prayer on our lips.

India, despite, and not because of its leadership, stands yet again on the cusp of greatness, and as part of the generation that is hopefully going to realise the India of our dreams, and of our songs, I know it is a betrayal no less to say I want to leave this country and go live elsewhere, and for that I apologise… didn’t really mean it. But it’s an idea born of hurt and neglect and one that you too are just as familiar with. Perhaps it is the same feeling, which, when cooked with an incident of outrage, leads to young people picking up a gun, seeking vindication and retribution.

And I don’t think corruption alone is the problem. It is a malaise that I naively believe runs deeper… will elaborate next week if you have the time. Meanwhile, you stay away from the Games… and those bridges…



  1. i trulystand by your side sir that corruption is not the only problem..problem is something very big..we are the problem...because we are the one who loves discussing the problem rather than finding a solution to it.The developed countries and their standard of living we people talk about,all those countries faced a huge and active public participation in their growing whether it be US or newest world power,china...public participation was always an imp element in the course of development.With no disrespect to anybody since i am a part of society,we love to enjoy the day we have to cast our valuable votes as another National Holiday...we demand rights but do we fulfill our duties????
    My questin to everybody whosoever reads it is only one.....the qestion is not why it happened....the question is not that why always in India...the question is..."what have you done to make situation better"....other than complaning...we are the problem n we are the think about it....!!!

  2. ıf we contınue to sıt on laptops and voıce our opınıons thıngs may remaın the same,

    İ wısh ı could brıng the change, the tıme for speech ıs over, ıt ıs tıme for actıon; together

  3. Dear Sir Prashantobanerji. i think you are doing your duties,To bring people to the quest of the truth —and you are meant for that.... is this corruption or complaining? ... I know a lot of people—who has gone
    from disbelief to loyalty, who has begun to trust in the speeches after years
    of criticizing them.You are bringing the truth in your writing many other have also done ,now
    people are aware that we are in peril and that there is no trustworthy leadership that's way they are complaining.The beauty of facing life unprepared is tremendous. ..... Power only brings your corruption into the open.

  4. Today India is facing one of the greatest problem:- Corruption In Education System. And it is one the prominent reason for the Corruption in India.
    Everyday our Great Politician is speaking that they will help us and playing vital role in removing Corruption but no one is making efforts. Nobody is making any efforts in the improvement of our education system. Today our education system in India is just filling huge money in their pockets. And this is the major reason for the Corruption in our Country. Today our teaching system is just completing its formalities. Nothing else? They never thought that what there are teaching is getting inside the students sitting on the first bench as good as the students sitting on the last bench. They never bother about that. They just thought that they have to cover a vast course. Nothing else? Then what a shame for being a teacher as well as the teaching communities.
    Let me tell you one that Today we feel shame to follow our culture; we felt that if we follow our culture. It seems so old and others will laugh at us. We just want to look more attractive. Due to this only we are not developing because if we want to develop then first we have to follow our culture. A lot of wonderful things written in our culture but nobody are following that because it is not taught to us in a good manner by our teacher.
    Today why America and China is so developed? Why Japan is inventing new things everyday in their country? Because they are following their culture. Their presidents as well as the great leaders uses its mother tongue when they attend a conference and other events. Their culture is taught to them in a good manner and due to this only they uses their power and resources in a good manner that further led to development.
    But is it happening in India? Are we following our culture? No, because we thought that we follow it then other will think that we are inferior. And this is not happening in general people only but also with our great leaders as well as leading industrialists. Today Our Honorable Prime Ministers as well as Presidents and many more are using foreign languages to notice any problems and issues in our country instead of our Mother languages.
    But I would like to tell you that by adopting foreign culture and we won’t develop ever. Let me focus that, In Europe when Gandhi Ji was asked that which is the most important guide to succeed. He told that “The Gita”. Why he said like that? Because he Knew that a lot of wonderful things written in “Gita”. If we follow it then we will never fail in the life.
    But still we are unknown about that. We thought that “Oh Gita is just and Epics”. We never thought that it is about Krishna’s Principles that he told to Arjun’s when he dropped his bows and arrow in the battle field. We never thought that it’s a great principles of life by which we will overcome from various problems if we follows it and further led to development.
    At last I want to tell you that if we want to develop then we have to make efforts to develop our teaching system and create awareness among ourselves. Because it’s our life and Nations then why shall we wait for the efforts of our leaders and politicians?