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This is what India hides behind claims of being a superpower aspirant: the world’s biggest concentration of disease while spending billions on weapons.
SPECIAL REPORT | Thursday | 4 November 2010
ONTARIO, Canada—Twenty-six year old Annamay Pierse did not make much out of the tough-sounding warnings that sports officials in her country made just before the start of Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi in October.
Canada was one of the countries which had threatened to pull out of the Games because of hygiene and security reasons. Canadian diplomats confirmed what the international media was already reporting: that the new sports facilities in New Delhi, and especially the new accommodations for the international visitors, were far below world standards of hygiene and security. Indian diplomats almost had to beg Canadian government to avert a last-minute embarrassing boycott. Canada managed to finish fourth, with a tally of 75 medals, including 26 gold medals.
But all the hopes pinned on Pierse were dashed. A world record holder in the 200-metre breaststroke, she managed to finish only fifth in the event in Delhi. But she won the bronze medal in the 4×100-metre medley relay.
She returned home with a bad case of fever which was confirmed later as dengue virus contracted back in India.
In a statement today, three weeks after leaving India, the athlete said: “I am thankful for all the continued help offered from our medical team and I’m confident that I will recover quickly. I will continue to update everyone on what will hopefully be a speedy recovery.”
Canadian officials also confirmed that another athlete returned home from India suffering from typhoid fever.
Far from showcasing India’s claimed status of an emerging power, the Games sunk into a cesspool of corruption tale, a major building collapse and endless tales of filth surrounding what was supposed to be state of the art sports facilities.
The Indian games entered sporting history as the most expensive ever: more than six billion US dollars spent on preparations over a period of seven years.
The event gave world media a rare chance to see inside a reality that the Indian government has been hiding behind million-dollar PR advertisements on international news channels, such as CNN and BBC.
Despite claims to economic prosperity, India remains the world’s largest repository of poverty and disease. Prosperity is limited a handful of major cities, affecting the lives of a small minority of India’s population. The rest suffer through terrible healthcare and social services.
Pierse was lucky. She received the best possible healthcare once back in Canada. But close to 4,000 Indians according to official figures suffered contracted dengue fever in and around the Indian capital this year. Many died because of lack of proper medical care. Activists say the actual figures for the sick and the dead are much higher.
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