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India at a turning point? The escort of the Commonwealth Games 2010 – Child Labour and Child Prostitution

Von | 17. April 2010 | Kategorie: Die Gesellschaft | 5 Kommentare | 10.428 Aufruf(e)

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mr. Mike Fennell is happy. Recently he stated: “Things are in good shape. […] India has spared no resources for the Games and everything will be first class.” Commonwealth Secretary-General Mr. Kamlesh Sharma speaks of the games as a „turning point for India”. The XIX Commonwealth Games this year are carried out in Delhi. This is seen to be a big chance for the country and its development. India wants to show itself to appear at its best. A lot of things in the capital have been organized, prepared and improved in the last months.

Everywhere in Delhi one can see road works and constructions. Former old, broken and dirty roads slowly turn into spaced out, nicely floored and clean avenues. The building of the new metro is coming along. Big stations rise out over night. Men are working and sweating in the heat to get the modern metro above the houses of Delhi ready in time. All metro stations are planned to be WI-FI enabled. A new four-lane underground stretch from Ring Road to Lodhi will make the life of the sportsmen and sportswomen even more comfortable, concerning travelling time. Twelve new flyovers and under-bridges have been planned. More than 1.100 new high-capacity buses with AC are established. Connaught Place and the Colonial city-centre have been given a new façade. Rajpath is rejuvenated. City monuments are cleaned and restored.

Apart from that the government put a lot of effort into the power issue. There is a large power production initiative going on to ensure additional power. The distribution system will be stream lined and new power plants are constructed. Stadiums have been established. The opening will be hosted in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which will soon be completed. The Maj. Dhyan Chand National Stadium, where the FIH World Cup hockey recently took place, is supposed to be one of the finest stadiums anywhere in the world. The water supply is ensured and water distribution is improved. Apart from that the government tries to streamline Delhi’s waste management. Twenty new hospitals, as well as many special trauma ambulances are busy being established until the Commonwealth games start. Due to the fact that many visitors are expected for the games an additional 25.000 rooms are build and the airport is modernized.

For these two weeks in October 2010 everything will be done to give Delhi a new face and to gain international prestige. The costs estimated of hosting the games are 1.8 billion US$. However, recently he Times of India released that the total budget is about 2460 Rs. Crores . One Crore in the Indian numbering system is equal to 10.000.000. This makes the games the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.

The Games: A chance for India’s economy or a mischief for India’s children?

The whole world is looking at India and Delhi during the games and the country is getting a lot of attention. Of course the government tries to stand in a positive light. According to the speeches of the government members, the games are an opportunity to project the nation on the world stage and to improve its image. It is a chance to show that the country is not just a poor developing country anymore, but that it is a modern, growing and powerful nation. Transportation, waste system, water supply, power management is improved and still will be improved after the games for Delhi’s citizens. Apart from that the games will leave behind high-class sport facilities that Indians youth can use in the future. Another legacy will be the economic regeneration of Delhi. Furthermore the Games will promote investment in the city.

Despite all this beautification, modernization and cleaning up, India’s real problems lie deeply under this shining surface and cannot be just brushed away. Homes have been demolished to provide more space for the games, old trees were cut off, and about 100.000 homeless people have been removed from shelters. Fences have been built around the city slums, preventing visitors to see the poverty of many people. Massive violations of labour rights have been reported during the last months. It is estimated that more than 415.000 wage labourers are working for more than 12 hours per day in Delhi due to the Games. Most of them do not earn more than 150 Rs. a day (ca. 3, 40 US$).

There will probably not only be athletes and visitors that storm into the capital, but a lot of sex workers and trafficked children as well. The area Delhi, Agra and Jaipur (called The Golden Triangle) is particularly popular in this sector, because there is a lot of tourism. Every year children from Nepal and states in India are trafficked to Delhi to work as sex slaves under horrible conditions. They are working as prostitutes, hidden in small dirty rooms in the red-light districts, away from their family and friends, not being able to go to school. They are the target of physical, sexual and mental abuse. Girls as well as boys are victims. Some of the children are not even eight years old.

The sad story does not end here. Apart from the rise in trafficking and child prostitution there is an increase in child labour in general that accompanies the games. The fact that the constructions are not being completed and running late, puts the organizers under serious pressure, because of that employers promise bonuses on the top of the salary to parents who send their children to work. If you are driving through the city today, you will see these kids, some of them just 5 years old, carrying stones and preparing constructions on the Delhi road-works. They are living with their parents in plastic tents next to the streets. They walk around barefoot just next to crazy Delhi traffic, always in danger to get hit by car. They breathe in the polluted air of old trucks and thousands of cars every day and they are working with tools, which are as heavy and big as themselves.

Delhi is doing a lot to improve the environment of the city and they government spends millions of Dollars for restoration, infrastructure and the well-being of the 6000 expected athletes, but the worries and problems of the city’s people and children appear to be ignored. How many child care facilities and schools could have been built for this money? How many homeless children could have been taken from the streets? How many girls working as prostitutes could have been found and rescued?

The government has to keep in mind that giving the country a good image is not only done by inventing and remaking the physical parts of the city, but much more by taking care of the people and by acting responsible referring to the issues the nation faces concerning child labour, child trafficking and poverty in general. If the Commonwealth Games really are a turning point for India, then the government has to realise that it is not just the surface they should be working on! India is still the country with the highest number of child labourers and about 300 Million Indians are living from less than 1 US $ per day.

A nation does not turn by building new metro stations, new hotels and broader roads. A nations turns into a better by protecting the dignity of their people, by taking care of the weakest in the society, by putting their children into schools and ensure their health and education. Ready to spend billions on sport games taking place for two weeks of the year, but not spending anything on the nation’s social system and the safety and well-being of the lifetime of its people, will never result in international prestige and a respectable image for good.

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ist Jura- und Ethnologiestudentin an der Universität Tübingen und schreibt für Kulturstruktur überwiegend für die Kategorie "Umwelt und Gesellschaft".
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5 Kommentare »

  1. Hey Effi,

    I really enjoyed reading this very interesting article. I am sure the situation as described will occur even more often in the future when more emerging countries, such as Brazil, will host big sports event and thus spend the money most likely in plenty of questionable projects. On the other hand those events really offer a lot of opportunities and the challenge will be to use those as good and sustainable as possible.
    I will be going to Delhi next week and stay for quiet a while, so I will be able to witness how Delhi presents itself during the Commonwealth game. Maybe I can even give an update here.


  2. Hi Mirko!
    Thanks for your comment!
    You are right – big sport events can also be a chance for (developing) countries to improve specific issues or to call attention to various concerns within the country. For example, due to the Soccer World Cup 2010 many new jobs have been created in South-Africa (especially in the tourism and industry sector). This is good for a country, which is seriously hit by unemployment (unemployment rate: ca. 25 %). Another positive effect by hosting sport events is the fact, that countries can also generate money during the time the games take place, that can be reinvested in the country’s social issues.
    I wish you a good time in Delhi and it would be very nice to hear about your experiences referring to the Commonwealth Games and Child Labour in particular.

  3. NIce post, Thanks for sharing this bitter truth of the world.

  4. Guten Tag .
    Coole hier . Ich mochte es !
    Halten Sie sich die gute Arbeit! :)

  5. I remember of syating at a hotel in Mahipalpur area(10-15m drive from both the terminals) last year. I don’t remember the name though .It was about Rs. 1500 for an A/C type room just for a night.They would quote some high price if you show up with a lot of luggage.Don’t forget to bargain.You can get a prepaid taxi at the airport counter and ask the taxi driver to take some hotel.

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