Thursday, September 4, 2008


Delhi is undertaking a massive development scheme before it hosts the 2010 Commonwealth Games. But People & Power found that many locals are doubtful the new projects will benefit everyone.

As the dust settles on the Beijing Olympics preparations are proceeding full-steam ahead in the Indian capital Delhi for their own multi-sport bonanza – the 2010 Commonwealth games.

With 85 nations due to compete in 17 different disciplines it is the largest event of its kind ever to be held in the country and the construction in the city reflects the scale of the event.

"We're a big economic power now. I mean India is looked at, India and China are looked at from a different angle altogether," Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Indian Olympic Committee, says.

"We are going up economically, and people expect that sports-wise also we must do well."

Delhi has promised it will surpass the Melbourne games of 2006 and the Delhi Development Authority is the agency that has been charged with converting the capital into a "world class city" in two years time.

In video

Find out more about the programme and watch the latest show

"The city, because of the Games, wherever it is – whether it is Athens, China – moves 10 years ahead, and Delhi will also move ten years ahead with the Commonwealth Games," Kalmadi says.

Moving ten years ahead means 24 new flyovers are in the pipeline and ultimately about 200km of new network on the Delhi Metro.

Infrastructure fear

"We have a big Commonwealth Games Village for 8,000 athletes. A number of competition and games venues are being built almost from scratch, some are being renovated," Tejinder Khanna, the chairman of DDA, tells Al Jazeera.

"So there's almost several billion dollars of infrastructure up-gradation and new infrastructure is being added."

Critics fear this new infrastructure will damage the existing environment of Delhi and that it will be the poorest who pay the price for this development.

"Delhi has many landmarks around the city from the Qutub Minar to the Red Fort to Safdarjung's Tomb. I think everything here should be preserved. There's a lot to keep. A lot to accentuate, a lot to rehabilitate,” Michael Jansen, the CEO of US consulting company Satellier, says.

"For Delhi the question really is, how do we maintain and accentuate the historic buildings in the city and then build a modern city around or into it – which I think will be the challenge."

But some people are being pushed back to accommodate this modern city. Forty kilometres away from Delhi is the area of Bawana.

People now forced to live here had been living in a slum colony in Delhi known as Yamuna Pushta before their land was taken away by the government.

The area will now house the Commonwealth games village, a state of the art facility for athletes competing in the games.

Appalling conditions

"Almost 200,000 people were actually displaced and were pushed to the outskirts of Delhi – to Bawana – so that there could be beautification that could happen," Vimlendu Jha, an environmentalist, says.

Bawana residents say their conditions are no better than before

In Bawana, the memories of the day of demolition are still fresh in people's minds.

"It was the afternoon when the bulldozers came," 25-year-old Rafiya recalls. "When it came towards us, we stood in the middle. All around us, houses were being torn down. My family was amongst the last to leave.

"My father had spent his entire life there, and died there, so we did not want to leave that place and move anywhere else."

What also angers Bawana's new residents is that their new living conditions are as equally as appalling as before.

The government gave them land to build houses. They can stay here for only five years and none of these houses have toilets.

There are some temporary toilets but they are often unaffordable for people living on less than a dollar a day.

Khanna says there was no other option for Bawana residents as authorities do not have substantial housing to provide.

"You can plant trees - you can't plant an eco system"

Harish Salve, Supreme Court lawyer

"What you've done is that you have removed a slum and created another slum at a different location. So you have displaced a problem, rather than solving a problem," Jha says.

Authorities claim they are under no legal obligation to re-house residents but critics argue they have no real choice in the matter.

"Right to resettlement doesn't exist," Harish Salve, a lawyer with the Supreme Court of India, says.

"But yes, as good government, as a welfare state which we are as far as possible, if driven by poverty people have come and settled in inhospitable surrounding you must resettle them."

'Race against time'

Meanwhile, the government is busy building the Commonwealth Games village on the bed of river Yamuna, a construction that Jha says is highly hypocritical.

"We've seen lot of illegal constructions; lot of slums have been removed, vacated from the river bed, saying that 'oh well, they pollute the river', and that any form of encroachment is bad for the river system and the eco-system of the river," he says.

"How about the Commonwealth Games? Where did the government think that it was suddenly eco-friendly to have big construction and it was eco-unfriendly when there were slums that were supposed to be there?"

The authorities however insist they have all the necessary permits to build on the riverbed and the Indian Olympic Committee says it is too late to switch the project to another site.

Some analysts say that setting up facilities for the games is proving to be a race against time for the government and in order to meet deadlines they are taking quick decisions that sometimes result in irreparable damage.

Local residents say that trees in the Siri forest have been cut down to make way for the Commonwealth stadium and have been done so from the centre, in order to disguise the cutting for as long as possible.

Delhi has developed the city's Metro system for the games [EPA]
"If 1,000 trees are cut anywhere – I mean, that we are very particular, at least 10,000 more trees must be grown elsewhere. So all those factors have been looked into," Suresh Kalmadi of the Olympic committee says.

Salve says this attitude is a case of literally not seeing the forest for the trees.

"A forest which is a few hundred years old, as this Siri Fort forest is, is an eco-system. You can plant trees - you can't plant an eco system," he says.

"It is this attitude, and its this complete lack of awareness and planning, which is at the heart of the Indian problem."

Planning problems

Lack of planning is hindering Delhi from becoming the "world class" city it aspires to be.

The Road Research Institute has been monitoring the infrastructure in Delhi and says that basic facilities like pedestrian signals and zebra crossings are sorely lacking – meaning walking on Delhi roads has never needed more maneouvring.

"Just for the sake of widening the roads we are just cutting down the size of the footpaths. And whatever footpaths are available they are not at all pedestrian friendly," Nishi Mittal from the institute says.

The games' organising authorities suggest such hindrances are merely teething problems and that a fluid transportation system will be in place by 2010.

"There's going to be a lovely transportation system coming in," Kalmadi says.

"All these stadiums are also being connected by the Metro. So, lot of things happening for the common man."

However, despite the millions of dollars already invested in the infrastructure of the Games, many believe that millions of people may not benefit from it.

"Whatever Games we're talking about, it doesn't really help the common man. It comes and goes," Vimlendu Jha says

"But in the process of coming and going, you don't lose so much. You don't put everything at stake."

Prime Minister's Office (PMO)

The Prime Minister of India is the Head of the Union (Federal) Government, as distinct from the President of India, who is the Head of State. Since India has adopted the Westminster model of constitutional democracy, it is the Prime Minister who oversees the day-to-day functioning of the Union (Federal) Government of India.

The Prime Minister is assisted in this task by his Council of Ministers, comprising Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State with Independent Charge, Ministers of State who work with Cabinet Ministers, and Deputy Ministers.

Prime Minister's Office

The President of India appoints the leader of the party or alliance that enjoys majority support in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) as Prime Minister. In case no single party or alliance has a majority, the leader of the largest single party or alliance is appointed Prime Minister, but he/she has to subsequently secure a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha. The Union Council of Ministers is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister can be a member of either the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) or the Lok Sabha. As Prime Minister, he is the Leader of the House to which he belongs. The Prime Minister is also the Chairman of the Planning Commission of India.

As head of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister oversees the work of all the Ministries. He presides over Cabinet meetings, which are normally held in the Cabinet Room of the Prime Minister's Office. The Union Cabinet functions on the principle of "collective responsibility".

The Prime Minister's Office, popularly known as the 'PMO', is located at

South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi,
India-110 011.
Telephone: 91-11-23012312.
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.
e-mail: Click here

The South Block is one of the two secretariat blocks (the other is known as North Block) that flank Rashtrapati Bhavan - the residence of the President of India.

The PMO provides secretarial assistance to the Prime Minister. It is headed by the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister. The PMO includes the anti-corruption unit and the public wing dealing with grievances.

The subject-matter of files required to be submitted to the Prime Minister depends on whether he is holding direct charge of the Ministry or whether there is a Cabinet Minister or Minister of State (Independent Charge) in charge of the Ministry.

In the case of the latter, most matters are dealt with by the Cabinet Minister / Minister of State-in-charge. Only important policy issues, which the Minister concerned feels should be submitted to the Prime Minister for orders or information, are received in the PMO.

In cases where the Prime Minister is the Minister-in-charge, all matters requiring Ministerial approval not delegated to the Minister of State / Deputy Minister, if any, are submitted for orders. The Prime Minister has traditionally been the Minister-in-charge of the Departments of Space, Atomic Energy, and Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

Since the Prime Minister is Chairman of the Planning Commission, relevant files are forwarded to the PMO for his comments and clearance.

Some of the important matters that require the Prime Minister's personal attention include the following:

(a) Important defence-related issues;
(b) Decorations, both civilian and defence, where Presidential approval is required;
(c) All important policy issues;
(d) Proposals for appointment of Indian Heads of Missions abroad and requests for grant of agreement for foreign Heads of Missions posted to India;
(e) All important decisions relating to the Cabinet Secretariat;
(f) Appointments to State Administrative Tribunals and the Central Administrative Tribunal, UPSC, Election Commission, Appointment of members of statutory/constitutional Committees, Commissions attached to various Ministries;
(g) All policy matters relating to the administration of the Civil Services and administrative reforms;
(h) Special Packages announced by the Prime Minister for States are monitored in the PMO and periodical reports submitted to Prime Minister; and
(i) All judicial appointments for which Presidential approval is required.

True story of Indian independence...

The so called fathers of Indian independence reached the final point in such tranquility, with no sense of crisis or of being swept away of events, had always been a matter worth reckoning in Indian history. Was British opinion prepared for the new era of British Indian relations which opened on August 15th. What is now a part of history was a structure so solid in the memory of men then living then, that it had appeared to be an institution of remote antiquity. But the British supermacy in India remained hardly for 200 years. The 200 year period has been but a brief episode in a history which archaeology has now taken back to the great brick built cities of Sind in the third millenium B.C. When British stormed Seringapatam in 1799 the greater part of India was still under independent native rulers. Twenty years later everything except Nepal and the Punjab was under the sway of the "koompany bahadur" the strange impersonal being made manifest for the Indian population in the princely magnificence. In a few years the whole Indian scene was transformed and the British in India became the ruling race, Elphinstone was soon to claim of high handedness of his younger politicians who had never seen the Indian states in the days of their power. Yet there remained always an underground of memories and sentiments which the new rulers could ignore, but not dispel. A British official in 1832 wrote of "the ghosts of former reverence still existing in the immense shadows that make up the Indian opinion, ghosts always active and for the most part maligned to the British". Some of those ghosts showed their power during the first war of independence in 1857. They are still active, but today their malignancy is no longer so much for the British as for the policy makers of a single national democracy of India which succeeded the British Raj. The Congress leaders casted no glance itno the "immense shadows" beyond the light of their vision. But out of those shadows emerged Pakistan. The name "Pakistan", an artificial verbal compound, said to have been invented by a Muslim Indian student in Cambridge, was unknown to Indian politics until 1930s. It was not a name which in itself could stir patriotic emotions or evoked mental images of past glory and greatness. But what really embodied for the zealots of Muslim League was nothing else than the old Mogul empire, the great monarchy which for a while did rule nearly all India and long after it had ceased to have any real power, retained such prestige that even in the second quarter of 19th century the Princes sought honors from the "King of Delhi" rather than from the British Governor General. This is the significance of shouts of "Emperor of Pakistan" with which Mr. Jinnah was greeted by his followers after the announcement of partition scheme. Mr. Jinnah modestly declined the title of emperor, after all,that was a democractic age. But he was to become the Governor General of new baby "Pakistan". The development was more serious because Mr.Jinnah's rule gave promise of being a very thinly veiled dictatorship. The division by districts which was laid down in principle in whtie paper was only provisional, the frontier itself had to be drawn by Boundary Commission and although Sir Cyril Radcliffe was to direct its work, it was doubtful whether even his icy clarity of mind and austere legal presence would be sufficient to prevail over the passions that burnt in the distracted provinces. The political map of India had the same remarkable patch-work quality which was characterstic of 18th century Germany or Italy in historical atlases of Europe. Interspersed among the provinces of British India were numerous areas of varying shapes and sizes, corresponding to the lesser entities of the old European order from Bavaria or Tuscany to the pitty jurisdictions of Knights of the Empire. Indeed, during the last few years many people in this country had been inclined to thinking how much better it would have been if they had never been unified at all. But it is generally admitted that, where a sense of nationality really exists, the process of unification at the expense of former feudal lords is an irresistible one and that rights of ruling dynasties, which do not correspond to national sentiments, have to be set aside in the making of national states.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation creation of which was proclaimed on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. Its prototype is the Shanghai Five mechanism.
The main goals of the SCO are strengthening mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member countries; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology, culture as well as education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, to move towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.
Proceeding from the Spirit of Shanghai the SCO pursues its internal policy based on the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equal rights, consultations, respect for the diversity of cultures and aspiration towards common development, its external policy is conducted in accordance with the principles of non-alignment, non-targeting anyone and openness.
The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the highest decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once every year to take decisions and give instructions on all important issues of SCO activity. The Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once every year to discuss a strategy for multilateral cooperation and priority directions within the Organisation’s framework, to solve some important and pressing issues of cooperation in economic and other areas as well as to adopt the Organisation’s annual budget. Besides sessions of the HSC and the HGC there are also mechanisms of meetings on the level of Speakers of Parliament, Secretaries of Security Councils, Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Defence, Emergency Relief, Economy, Transportation, Culture, Education, Healthcare, Heads of Law Enforcement Agencies, Supreme Courts and Courts of Arbitration, Prosecutors General. The Council of National Coordinators of SCO Member States (CNC) is in charge of coordinating interaction within the SCO framework. The Organisation has two permanent bodies – the Secretariat in Beijing and the Regional Antiterrorist Structure in Tashkent. Secretary-General and Executive Committee Director are appointed by the HSC for a period of three years. From 01 January 2007 these posts are held by Bolat K.Nurgaliev (Kazakhstan) and Myrzakan U.Subanov (Kyrgyzstan) respectively.
The SCO member states occupy a territory of around 30 million 189 thousand square kilometers, which makes up three fifths of the Eurasian continent, and have a population of 1.5 billion, which makes up a quarter of the planet’s population