I’ve visited India many times. I’ve spent time in hotels and offices that could be anywhere in the world, yet I have also seen how the slums sit cheek by jowl with the new hi-tech India. There is often a sense of chaos in India and a relaxed attitude to time reflected in the often-repeated joke that IST really means ‘Indian Stretchable Time.’
But in all my experience of India, I have found that world-class companies offering first-rate goods and services really do exist. And why not? India is one of the BRICs… the countries that will lead the 21st century. So who can explain the disaster of the build up to the Commonwealth Games?
Teams are arriving to find they can’t live in the accommodation provided because it’s flooded or unfinished. The bridge linking the main stadium to a car park just collapsed, seriously injuring several labourers. Athletes are already pulling out citing security risks.
India can do far better than this in the world of business, where Indian companies compete with the best. So is the failure to organise the games because of endemic corruption and favouritism in the political classes? The local media in Delhi is reporting that vast sums of money allocated to the games has just vanished.
Where did it all go? Who is going to answer for the chaos? And when will India allow competence to rise above nepotism when managing major events such as this?
One look back at China in 2008 shows how a major athletics meeting can be run with precision and efficiency – I expect London 2012 to be a bit more relaxed than China, but if I was Indian today I’d be filled with shame because the world is watching and waiting as disaster reigns.