Hanuman (No – not human – this is no typo…), an incarnation of Shiva, destroyer of evil, rescued Sita from the clutches of demonic Ravana of Sri Lanka, in the epic story, Ramayana… Indian women are often expected to follow her example – the epitome of virtues, the ideal woman!
So, what does this monkey have anything to do with Commonwealth Games? Well, read on…
James Pomfret reports the following in Times Online, official website of The Sunday Times Newspaper in Sri Lanka:
GUANGZHOU, China, Sept 29 (Reuters) – The emerging Asian giants of China and India may be locked in a battle for economic supremacy, but on the sporting front at least, China has sprinted well ahead of its southern rival.
In an illustration of some of their relative strengths and weaknesses in tackling complex infrastructure and policy-making challenges for big events, China’s slick preparations for the Asian Games in Guangzhou have contrasted sharply with India’s chaotic Commonwealth Games preparations in New Delhi.
Some of the problems plaguing India’s Games, such as poor governance and shoddy infrastructure, carry poignant lessons as the country strives to prove itself against an aggressive, entrepreneurial and powerful competitor to the north.
While India was racing to finish venues, scrub clean an athletes’ village and restore battered public confidence in the four-yearly Commonwealth Games, the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was finishing preparations for the Asian Games, second in size to the Olympics, with 50 days to go.
“We’ve made comprehensive preparations,” said an organiser, Hua Shan, during a tour of the Asian Games Town sprinkled with lakes, apartments for athletes and stadia built in about two years.
“We’ve seen the reports from India and are confident we’ll do much better,” she added. “Our government is fully behind this and we’ve had experience of putting on these big events before.” Over the past nine years, China has hosted at least six
major sporting events including the 2008 summer Olympics and two East Asian Games, leading some liberal commentators to dub China’s president Hu Jintao a national pride-seeking “sports fanatic”.
“Sport is the new arena for asserting China’s soft power,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a Hong Kong-based political scientist.
Besides China’s urban infrastructure and deep budgets to bankroll such spectacles, inter-regional rivalries have also played a role in ensuring smooth and safe implementation.
“(Guangzhou) is clearly the third city in China after
Beijing and Shanghai and they want to have their share of the cake and their share of fame, both domestically and on the international stage,” added Cabestan, of Hong Kong’s Baptist University.
For India, meanwhile, images of a collapsed footbridge by a main stadium and other shoddy construction have thrown the spotlight on its infrastructure problems. While now Asia’s third largest economy, for competitiveness, India is ranked just 51st overall globally by the World Economic Forum [ID:nSGE68L0C4].
“India has a deficit and public debt has increased. It’s a little bit difficult to mobilise resources and focus on infrastructure and it’s more decentralised so I think there are some striking differences (with China),” said Jong-Wha Lee, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank.
Besides logistics problems, India’s Games have been marred by security worries, including a suspected militant attack on tourists and the possibility of religious violence flaring.
China’s showcase events, however, have come at a social cost in many cases including mass evictions, media censorship and the silencing of dissidents as seen for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai Expo.
In Guangzhou, hundreds of villagers in older urban areas have clashed with riot police as bulldozers razed homes in a blitz of development ahead of the Games, fuelled in part by soaring real estate prices.
Many villagers voiced anger at perceived official corruption and collusion with developers with billions ploughed into public works and as the pressure to force evictions with minimal compensation grows.
“The Asian Games have led to a tightening of freedoms,” said Zhu Jianguo, a political commentator in nearby Shenzhen.
“That’s the main aim of these games, to demonstrate the country’s prosperity and the legitimacy of the ruling party. It also brings power and opportunities for corruption.”
Photo caption: Langur handlers walk with the large monkeys outside Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on September 28, 2010. Delhi authorities are to deploy a contingent of langurs — a large type of monkey — at Commonwealth Games venues to help chase away smaller simians from the sporting extravaganza. Ten langurs will be put on duty outside several Games venues in the Indian capital, with the swimming complex seen as particularly vulnerable to monkey misbehaviour, an official said. AFP