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Pride without Prejudice

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The Commonwealth Games came and went.

Such a hue and cry took place before the Games and surely there will be some ripples even after. Mismanagement of funds, delay of deadlines, general discomfort to citizens of Delhi – all this and more took precedence over all other matters for days on end before the start of the games. Every panellist shook his fist at the government, anyone interviewed on the streets pointed his finger at the government. They have done this wrong and that wrong. Whatever lies in between the this and that also was wrong.

And maybe it was. We don’t know. But we understood some other things that were not right. The government can be blamed for failing on a physical level – maybe a roof fell or some potholes slowed the traffic or a rich politician became richer. But it is the Indian public, the Indian audience that disappointed us even more for it failed in spirit. Yes, we are the hosts and we must cheer our fellow men (which we did amply, beautifully, supportively), but does that mean that we must not cheer others when they too exceed the limits and show exemplary feats of skill and determination? Must we boo the competition when our fellow countryman doesn’t succeed in winning? Must we remain stoically silent, not even letting out a whisper of a clap when a sportsman not from India shows by his merit that he is better than one of us? If sports unite people, then India failed in her task.

Then there was the questionable biases of the commentators. Not only would they underplay when an Indian fell short of the mark but they would heighten the error in tone and pitch when someone else did. The ultimate insult was to ourselves when on several occasions, at winning a silver or a bronze medal, the commentators expressed their dismay almost as if the silver or bronze was as worthless as winning nothing at all. Such an attitude in sport runs counterproductive to its very spirit and nothing can be more shameful than belittling someone’s effort or achievement.

We think the Games were tremendous. To see our young sportsmen and women from the humblest to the most privileged backgrounds, work as a team on a common platform, put in more effort than imaginable, and bring us the glory of a job well done more than the shining metal that were being counted – all this for us was more significant and is what made the Games a success. But we hope that the next time it is the people of India who can learn a little of that competitive spirit and wideness of appreciation that truly crosses barriers and unites people.

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