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India should not have hosted Games: Aiyar
Published on 17 Oct. 2010 12:30 AM IST
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Congress MP and former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, the most vocal critic of the Commonwealth Games, still insists that India should not have hosted the mega sporting event.
But he made it clear in an interview to CNN-IBN that his criticism of the Commonwealth Games “has nothing to do with the Indian athlete”.
“My criticism has to do with fundamental moral values and national pride. I asked then and I ask the question now: had Mahatma Gandhi been alive, would he have agreed to light the lamp to inaugurate this Games event? The answer is no!,” Aiyar said.
“We are in a country where 47 percent of the children under five years of age suffer from malnutrition because nine out of 10 pregnant women are suffering from anaemia. We have one of the highest infant mortality rates,” he said.
“Yet on this Games, if you take both, the relative expenditure has gone up by four times than the annual budget of the annual rural health mission,” he added.
“Is this the way we should use our resources? Secondly, if we do have such resources, why are we not deploying them and providing sports facilities for our children,,” he asked.
Aiyar pointed out that 95 percent of Indian children have no access to sports training. “Instead of making a nation of sportspersons, we are converting ourselves into sports organisers.” He reiterated that he was not against sports per se -- or athletes.
“My criticism is never ever with Indian athletes... In this game they have won (medals) not because they are provided with special facilities as a home team. They won... (despite) the incompetence of our sports officials and others connected with the organising committee,” he said.
The former minister said he was not going to criticise anyone by name for the shoddy preparations to the Games which came in for international criticism.
“I have never said anything wrong against Mr Kalmadi (Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi) and I am not going to say any word against Mr Kalmadi. I want the investigation promised by the PM (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) to take place with all deliberate speed and outcome and those who are held guilty by the investigation should be given strong punishment by the PM,” he said.
“For the rest, I just say we should push the comprehensive sports policy which I made during my tenure as sports minister.” he said.
Asked whether the inquiry will reach to the “core of corruption” in the Commonwealth Games organisation, Aiyar said: “I have no idea at all. There are many investigations in India. They don’t get into the bottom... and they take deliberately very long time. But I think we should stick to natural principle of justice.”
Aiyar said: “The ultimate expenditure according to the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) in 2009 is 1,014 times more than the estimate given. Somebody needs to look into incompetence and inefficiency.”
He admitted that he was also personally being accused of delaying things. “I will be very happy to subject myself to this investigation,” he added.
The Congress leader felt India should never again host an event of this magnitude until such time the sporting and training facilities and adequate nutrition for children could be provided.
Aiyar, a vehement critic of the high cost of the Commonwealth Games, had left Delhi during the 12-day event which concluded Oct 14. India made a record haul of 101 medals in the Delhi Games.

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