Commonwealth Shames

By Atul Kapoor

Glasgow is bustling with activity these days. The city is hosting the twentieth version of Commonwealth Games (CWG). As many as seventy one nations are participating in the mega sporting event. CWG have a riveting history. The idea was first mooted in 1891by Astley Cooper, an Englishman, who suggested a Contest among the colonies of the British Empire; an empire that had its footprints across the globe spanning through the vast stretches of Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific, an empire cutting through fifty one countries, an empire where the sun would never set. The first such grand event, though, could only be organized in the year 1930. It was called as British Empire Games at that time. Barring on two occasions (1942 & 1946 due to World War) the sporting spectacle had been organized every four years till date.

 So, what could have been the compelling reason for the empire to bring to the fore a sporting competition of such grandeur? The all encompassing validation must have been that to inculcate a sense of pride, equality and commonality among the subject states, as even the motto of CWG would also suggest: Humanity, Equality and Destiny. Though, in the garb of such salutary positioning, Britain, in all likelihoods, was trying to stick her neck out and find an escape route to exhibit her glory in the fading era of her supremacy. By 1930, the empire was already on its way to recede into background with voices for freedom from most of the subject states getting ever stronger while the axis of power at the same time shifting quite emphatically in favor of United States of America.

 British were undoubtedly an astute race. Being a tiny nation in itself and yet manage to form colonies in virtually every conceivable nook of earth would be a testimony to their astuteness. So, when the realization that the days of her imperialism were numbered began to dawn on Britain she hoped to keep herself extant in an undemonstrative and subtle way in the changing order of hegemony; and what better way than to throw your weight behind a jamboree that would ostensibly bring together the colonies of the empire once every four years in the name of sports thereby keeping the idea of ‘Imperialism’ alive and the coveted throne of the queen relevant for generations to arrive.

 All the major sporting events across the globe were founded on geographical or climatic factors, CWG being the only exception that had an ulterior political motive in its inception. With the fall of the empire CWG should have met a natural demise but somehow the self-serving event has managed to find its way into the sports calendar every four years for almost a century now. Of course the event suits to the whims of England as it helps her reminisce her glorious past giving her interim spells of ego trip. England has every reason to perpetuate her vicarious pride which naturally makes her a strong proponent of the event. But then what about her erstwhile colonies, and most of all India? Why should we be so unwittingly helping in her cause?

 Its sheer genius on the part of Britain to be able to not just cajole her once subject states to participate in some event that would subliminally remind them of their unflattering past but also make them derive some kind of nationalistic pride in doing so. It’s the worst kind of colonial hangover that we should have shunned years ago if we were to project ourselves as an assertive nation all set to dispose its baggage and carve its own destiny.

 Another reason why we should kiss CWG goodbye is the mediocre level of the competition itself. No wonder then that the world’s best athletes, more often than not, skip the event as they prepare themselves for bigger and far more meaningful outings. With no intent to discredit the efforts of our treasured athletes who put in their best in the name of the nation, at the end of the day it would just be a ‘CWG Medal’ that they would be bringing home. As it is a sporting event of a global scale without the likes of USA, China, Japan and Russia is a nonstarter. It’s like Mahabharata being fought without Arjuna, Karna, Bhisma etc. We would rather be a strong contender for the likes of Olympics and Asian Games than to be, let’s say, an undisputed superpower of CWG someday.

 CWG is a big fat ugly idea of the yesteryears that should have not found space in the vastly modern and liberalized India of today. That it still manages to do so would seem to suggest we were yet to achieve total independence.

About The Author: Atul Kapoor is an author of a novel ‘Incredible High’ published in the year 2010. Presently, he is working on his next book which is a group of short stories knitted together to give them a semblance of the novel. He keeps dabbling in poetry and writing articles in between.

2 Comments

  1. nikhil Khandelwal says:

    Very well written, didn’t know why cwg are played. After reading these games should be abolished since it types of create British supremacy.

  2. kopal dhawan kapoor says:

    Gud one A.k….. I totally support your opinion…. (y)

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