India’s failure to win its bid to stage the 2014 Asian Games in New Delhi has led to a war of words between Union sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and the president of the Indian Olympic Association, Suresh Kalmadi. Kalmadi has said India’s chances were hurt by Aiyar’s reported comment that what India needed for its sporting talent to flower was a concerted effort to boost the latent talent, not pomp and show.
“India’s future as a sporting nation depends much less on image-building exercises connected with mega sports events, than with reaching organised, formal sports and games facilities to 72 crore, out of 77 crore, Indian children, adolescents and youth, who are completely deprived,” Aiyar has been quoted as saying.
Questions: Who is right? Will Indian sport become better by staging big events or will it only benefit a contractors and crooks? Can Indian performances get better in a vacuum without facing global and regional competition, without creating the kind of facilities that hosting a game brings? Has Indian sport benefited with the 1982 Asiad and will it with the Commonwealth Games?