A new report questions the rationale of spending huge sums of money on a one-time sporting event that is resulting in multiple human rights violations, especially against the most marginalised sections of society.
Tens of millions of Euros appear to have been diverted from social welfare programmes for Dalits to the budget of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi later this year. In 2009-2010 alone, 2,65 billion Rupees (appr. 46 million Euros) that were allocated for the ‘Scheduled Caste Sub Plan’ were spent on the Games instead.
According to the report ‘The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons?’ by the Housing and Land Rights Network, multiple human rights violations have taken place during preparations for the sporting event. Tens of thousands of families have been evicted from their homes, homeless citizens arrested and arbitrarily detained, and workers have been rampantly exploited at CWG construction sites.
Moreover, the bidding process and the preparations for the CWG have lacked transparency, and costs have spiraled out of control. According to official figures, they have risen to five times the original projection, while independent estimates put them at up to 16 times higher than the initial budget. To cover some of these expenditures, huge sums have been diverted from social welfare programmes that should have benefited Dalits.
In a news piece, the BBC called the report ‘a damning indictment of the way the Commonwealth Games have been financed and planned by the central and state governments.’ The report itself states that ‘it is criminal that money reserved for the most marginalised sectors of society under the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan 2009-10 (Special Component Plan), which is already an exceedingly low percentage of the budget, is diverted for Commonwealth Games related expenditures.’
The report – prepared by Miloon Kothari, a former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, together with Shalini Mishra and Shivani Chaudhry – contains a number of recommendations, including the need for an investigation into human rights violations and an inquiry into the bidding process and expenditures.
A recent analysis of the Indian government’s budget by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) shows that less than half of the funds that are supposed to be spent on Dalits are actually allocated. In 2010-2011 alone, the amount equals more than four billion Euros. The analysis states that this huge amount ‘could have brought substantial changes to the lives of many Dalits.’