Thursday, May 20, 2010

Scholars debate on Commonwealth Games ''national pride''

New Delhi, May 13 (UNI) Delhi may be slowly approaching the goal of becoming a ''world class city'' ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010, but has the process actually benefited the Indian society at large, argued scholars here today.

Questions have been raised on the various dimensions of the Games, especially the level of expenditure on a one-time sporting event and actual delivery of benefits to the masses.

''In the process of making the Games a successful event, multiple violations of human rights, constitutional rights, especially of marginalised sections, should not have been done,'' former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah said.

Referring to homelessness and deportation as a result of building infrastructure for the 12-day international event, Justice Shah said, ''People have become insensitive towards demolitions. It is expected that the people who are residing in slums and JJ clusters will just vanish if their shelters are demolished.''

Rehabilitation and proper housing was important, he added.

Categorically speaking about begging in Delhi, Justice Shah said, ''To abolish begging, there are two goals -- nobody should beg and nobody should have to beg. It seems the city government has forgotten the second more significant aim.''

He quipped, ''The decision to deport beggars to their respective states is weird as Delhi is a city of migrants where almost 70 per cent of the population is from outside the city.''

Justice Shah was speaking while launching a report titled, ''The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons?'' here.

The account, prepared by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), put forth many findings questioning the rationale for spending crores on the event, and outlined key general recommendations suggested to be done pre and post-event.

The launch was followed by a panel discussion chaired by former United Nations Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari, Professor of Economics in Jawaharlal Nehru University Amitabh Kundu, Director of Hazards Centre Dunu Roy and members of HLRN.

Mr Kothari stressed that the entire process of the Games was in contravention of India's Constitutional obligations and the excessive costs involved are hard to justify in a country with high levels of poverty, hunger, inequality, homelessness and malnutrition.

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