Rajiv Gandhi, for good or bad, could take calls as multiple decision makers are catastrophic for the Games. Majumdar and Mehta get candid with Sukalp Sharma on their research, experience, revelations, and all that has gone into their latest offeringSellotape Legacy: Delhi and the Commonwealth Games.
You mentioned how sporting events are about cities and nations and their places in the world. So, how would you rate the Commonwealth Games and Delhi
As we have argued in the book the Games could surely have played a part in securing for India a place in the list of nations, which have played host to mega events. It is a well established strategyuse sport to position a nation in the world parliament of nations. China used Beijing to establish itself as the worlds premier sporting power, beating the US was, for example, the real aim and the real intent was world supremacy. Given the state of affairs prevalent in Delhi, India will need a miracle to achieve this goal.
The Games, post-decolonisation, were used by countries like India as platforms for international political issues, apartheid in South Africa being the most prominent. But post-apartheid, are the Games just a burden of legacy and tradition
The Games are dismissed by many as a posthumous celebration of a long-forgotten Empire. Others have played up their potential to revive Indian sport, offering rosy visions of an assembly line of Indian sportsmen and women turning us, overnight, into the next China. At their heart, the Commonwealth Games are about the politics of development and the raging ambitions of a rising India that so animate the middle classes and many decision makers in this country. The notion of projecting the capital city as a shining beacon of Indias global power play has always been at the heart of Delhis bid for the Commonwealth Games. And this is not entirely unfounded as we have seen with mega events across the world. From that standpoint, it is not just a burden of legacy and tradition.
You elaborate on how the Games can be used as a threshold to enter a new era of sporting culture. Is there still any realistic hope that CWG 2010 would usher that culture in India
Almost impossible. And thats why we feel the pinch even more. It is time we spare a thought for our athletes. Except the handful of stars who have made the grade in terms of sponsorship, the majority of Indias athletes have looked at the Commonwealth Games for years now as their moment under the sun. They have prepared under adverse conditions, strived day in and out to stand up for the country and trained with little incentives on offer. Athletes from the North East, who came out in huge numbers to support the Queens baton relay when it made its way there, serve as evidence as to why we need to take the Games seriously. They, ones hardly spoken about amidst all talk of modernity and super power status, need the Games more than anyone else. It is Indias final crack at having some kind of a sporting culture, failing which the sordid tale of Indian sport will face the desperate need for an epitaph.
Do you have apprehensions that the book might have a very short shelf life post-October 14 Why did you not wait until the end of the games to provide a complete overviewfrom history to build-up to the event itself
Not at all. It will have a very long shelf life. You will always want to know the Delhi storyhow did it all happen, what went wrong, where could we have improved, what was the real story from start to finish and this is the only book that documents the challenge over the last six years. The other four chapters will always stand the test of time- the story of the Games origins, apartheid, Nehru and the Commonwealth etc. can make it to any book on the Commonwealth Games. We are delighted to be able to launch the book now when it is all so relevant.
How difficult was it to research for this book as it deals with a lot of areas from nitty-gritties of Delhi 2010 to the origin, development, and the politics of the Games What would you consider your wow moment while researching
Very difficult. Theres no ready archive as you realise. We had to create our own archive, read pages of primary materialwe have read almost 30 years of the sports pages of Toronto Star for example to understand the origin of the Games. There are many wow moments and it is extremely difficult to identify one. But if you insist Id say to be able to reconstruct the story of the Games origins was extremely satisfying.