The Delhi Eye – A Symbol of Innocence and Inexperience?

DSC_0152

With the Commonwealth Games slipping into their final days in Delhi, other construction efforts are rushing for completion in a similar manner. Located away from central Delhi, in Kalindi Kunj gardens on the banks of the Yamuna River, the 45m wheel aspires to evoke comparisons with its more famous London counterpart. However, like much of the city, it remains unfinished and unused, with it’s location unknown to most locals and with the RP20 entrance fee to the gardens likely to prevent it being enjoyed by all levels of society.

It does boast one feature that the London Eye doesn’t – a VIP pod equipped (as rumour has it) with a minibar and a television. In case the view from the top proves underwhelming.

Click London Olympics for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Are the Commonwealth Games Inevitable?

35422_714309870743_61215749_43901620_4186075_n
Delhi Graffiti, 2010

India is due to host the 19th Commonwealth Games in 11 days. Instead of a continuation of the initial warm support lauded on the South-Asian country as it takes strides to rank itself amongst the political and economic world players, the tone has turned to one of reservation and, by the frankest commentators, criticism. Given the problems plaguing this autumn’s quadrennial sporting event, it is difficult to know which would be worse: the staging of a Games riddled with disgruntled athletes, dubious infrastructure and security concerns; or a cancellation altogether.

The fact that with less than two weeks to go participating teams are seriously considering not going and there is open talk of cancellation among various sporting authorities suggests that the Unthinkable is actually very thinkable. The unstoppable “inevitablility” of Mega-sporting events is a myth. A dangerous myth because in Delhi (as in Athens 2004) workers have been killed by the ruthless logic of its timetable.

Click London Olympics for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

The Downside of Commonwealth ‘Jugad’ : Mega-Event Footbridges

Grafitti Athens 2004

Graffiti Athens 2004

Images of the collapsed footbridge neighbouring New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru main stadium have made front-page news across the globe and shone unflattering light on India’s Commonwealth Games preparation. The Games, which are due to begin in under two weeks on the 3rd October, have been dogged by whispers of corruption, corner-cutting and a lack of leadership. Such whispers have recently descended into deafening shouts as concerns are voiced, by laymen and ministers alike, about the quality of construction efforts. Newly-erected buildings have been left in varying states of dilapidation due to annual monsoons, and the athletes’ village has been denounced as unfit for habitation.

It is possible that such a high-profile setback may become a symbol of the dangers of rushing regeneration into cities and societies unready for it, given that it has ultimately caused more destruction than good and more haste has resulted in less speed. Similarly, another footbridge closer to home, though still un-built, has also caused destruction. Manor Gardens in East London, a 100-year-old allotment, was wiped off the map for an Olympic footbridge, and though this footbridge may not fall apart, the loss of this historic and green site is perhaps a troubling indicator in itself of progress for the sake of thinly-defined progress.

If the concept, as well as the spirit of jugad is alive and well (the idea that things will get done, by hook or by crook), then organisers may be hoping that what is quickly turning into a Commonwealth debacle is only an exception that proves the rule.

Click London Olympics for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Pirate Urbanism: Delhi’s Commonwealth Regeneration

Cuius testiculus habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum. If you have people’s attention, you have also their hearts and minds.

Not so for the building constructed as the headquarters for the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi. Stark, sublime and constructed out of grey brick with seemingly arbitrary flashes of colour in idiot-purple, it is no wonder it has stirred up furious controversy.

To put it into World Cup terms, the teams are as such. On one side you have the architects, praising it’s modern feel and visionary style; on the other, grassroots organisations and a not insignificant slice of the public decrying the cost and confused over the desired architectural intention……….

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Olympic Food for Thought

DSC_0600

This poster was found in one of New Delhi’s Tibetan refugee colonies, and was given pride of place amongst the other anti-Chinese propaganda. Despite the fact that it is aimed at the Beijing Olympics 2008, it has lessons for London 2012 too. The ‘human rights’ it asks us to put before the Games may not be the torture, oppression and violence that the Chinese government is accused of. But the breaking up of communities, and cheating the poor and defenceless out of the little that they have in the face of ‘regeneration’ is surely a slap in the face of human rights on a lesser scale. We cannot promote a  sliding-scale of rights; either they are respected or they are not. And at the moment, the London Olympics resides in a very grey area.

Something to think about.

Click London Olympics for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.

Spectacle homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca

Commonwealth Games 2010 and New Delhi’s ‘Jugad’ Spirit

DSC_0398

New Delhi is to play host to the first ever Commonwealth Games held in Asia this coming October and, as with the London Olympics in 2012, opinion is divided. There is a powerful PR machine here feeding out reminders all over the city in the run up to the Games, with slogans such as ‘Green Delhi Clean Delhi’, in the hopes of cleaning up the rather extensive levels of pollution. New Delhi’s chattering classes, however, seem bemused at high foreign expectations.

“You do know there will be no Games?” a well-respected lawyer has exclaimed. Less pessimistic, but equally reserved architects involved in the construction of the highly controversial Commonwealth Games headquarters more humorously claimed the public and wider international community would certainly not receive the Games ‘described on the tin’, but that the government would unquestionably know what to show. And more importantly, what to conceal.

The spirit of jugad is a common concept in New Delhi, which roughly translates at best as ‘God willing’, and at worst as ‘by hook or by crook’. Many have invoked the term in relation to the Games, which are taking far longer and becoming much costlier than anticipated, as with the 2012 Olympics. The Games will be completed jugad, but it’s clear from walking the streets and talking to people that while it remains a subject of interesting debate for the Money Men, it is a worrying and at times livelihood-threatening prospect for the many million wallahs or ‘street sellers’ as harsher security restrictions are brought into place. Many are doubtful that the measures will end when the Games do.

There are those of course who proclaim that the Games connote excitement and invigoration, that they will bring life to the city. And in several respects this is true. It must be noted, however, that after each Asia Games in the 70s and 80s, there was deep civil unrest, which may or may not have been related to the Asia Games themselves. But taking into account the suspension of civil rights after the first Asia Games due to an internal ‘state of emergency’; and the holding of the second Asia Games in order to clean up the image of the regime – whispers of papering over social cracks, and governmental tin ears cannot be avoided.

As to the aftermath of this autumn’s Commonwealth Games, New Delhi dwellers must watch and wait.

Read the latest planA posts here.

Also see related blogs:

Battersea Power Station

London Olympics

Silwood Video Group

Eco Towns and Villages

Or visit:

Spectacle  homepage
Befriend Spectacle.Docs on Facebook
Follow SpectacleMedia on Twitter

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Current
  • email
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca