Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 opening ceremony – A big hit

The Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 Opening ceremony just got over and I caught bits and pieces in between. From what I saw, the spectacle was on par with other great global showpiece events and the Government of India along with Sheila Dixit‘s office do deserve all the praise for getting the Games up and running on time especially considering the ineptitude of a few, who nearly derailed the games.

For all the talk about corruption and ineptitude in the run up to the games, Suresh Kalmadi‘s enthusiasm and confidence to make this one of the best games ever seems justified now that the games have begun. India works well at the last minute and I have seen this happen time and again through first hand experience in my work. We seem to work best with our backs against the wall.

Anyway, getting back to the Games, everything went like clockwork. A small aberration would have been the boos reserved for Kalmadi when he got up to speak. An encouraging feature were the cheers for Sheila Dixit, Delhi’s Chief Minister, when her name was mentioned in the speeches. She was at the forefront of cleaning up the mess of the Indian Olympic Association and helped get the games back on track.

The cultural events featured during the show were the usual, showcasing the diverse culture of India. However, the presentation was not tacky and with a huge helium filled balloon hanging like some out-of-this-world orb over the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the whole production of the opening ceremony was a brilliant display of India’s kitschy culture. The Indian railways that form the heart of the India’s movement to greater things, was featured in a skit to the strains of ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ from A.R. Rahman. The train skit had some unique ‘bogies’ displayed featuring India’s mad riot of colours, work ethic and platform culture.

The right athletes were given prominence from India when it came to the baton relay. Abhinav Bindra led the Indian delegation in the march past, Vijender Singh brought the torch into the stadium for the final stretch of the Queen’s baton relay and passed it on to another boxer Mary Kom who handed it over to Samaresh Jung (who won the most medals by an individual at the last Commonwealth Games at Manchester) and finally Sushil Kumar handed over the torch to Prince Charles.

A memorable opening ceremony for all the right reasons and a good advertisement to the International Olympic Committee, what with Jacques Rogge visiting as an observer, Kalmadi’s dream of bringing the Olympic Games to India may still be on track.

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