This weekend, India welcomes the world to New Delhi as they begin to host the 19th Commonwealth Games. It is a first for India and the second for Asia to be hosting this international sporting event. There is a lot of pressure on the country to show the world its emerging superpower status, and there has been a mad rush to prepare Delhi streets and infrastructure for visiting athletes and guests. This weekend is also Gandhi Jayanthi, a celebration of Gandhi’s birthday. Gandhi once said,”the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” So perhaps India’s greatness at the Commonwealth Games should be measured by this criterion.
Last summer, when I was in India, there was much talk about the games. Egg producers I spoke with, were anticipating an increased market and demand during the games. Others were wondering if the live markets in the city would be shut down or relocated for hygienic regions. So what is the menu for the Commonwealth games? An article in The Hindustan Times states that the 22,000 volunteers, workers and security personnel at the games would be fed cold vegetarian meals in boxes in effort to cut down costs. The athletes and guests would, however, have their full share of meat options.
“At the same venues where the workforce will eat non-heated food in boxes, the VIPs, senior government officials, athletes and delegates will dig into a lavish spread at buffets…The Games Village, too, has an enviable platter with 13 varieties of meat items prepared in international styles.”
The Wall Street Journal blog reports:
“The dining area, though, is fully ready to serve. It has a capacity of 2,300 and is divided into food stations like African Flavors, with goat kebabs and fried chicken on the menu, and Western Flavors, with chicken steak and lamb chops, plus Asian, Indian and Italian offerings.”
What do the Commonwealth Games mean to the animals living in Delhi?. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the New Delhi Municipal Council have been trying to clear the city streets of stray animals. Cows are supposed to be moved to gaushalas, government funded cow shelters. The stray dogs are to be rounded up and temporarily held in designated shelters until the close of the games. There is concern, however, among animal activists, that this protocol is not being followed. They fear dogs are being displaced and relocated outside of the city, or worse, killed. The gaushalas, too, maybe be at or over capacity. What exactly is happening to the street cows of Delhi?
Monkeys are also impacted by the games. About 5,000 rhesus monkeys live in Delhi, and the organizers of the games are trying to scare them away by using a team of larger langur monkeys. Ten langur monkeys will be held on leashes at stadium grounds and other city locations to chase away smaller primates.
It’s not only the nonhuman animals that are being displaced.
This article reports that, “As many as 60 families near Gurgaon have been made homeless by the Commonwealth Games.”
On the 141st Anniversary of Gandhi’s birthday and the eve of the opening of the games in Delhi, one must wonder, where is the common wealth?