A firsthand look at Delhi construction

A reader takes the Indian government to task for the corruption surrounding the Commonwealth Games contracts and management.

In reference to the editorial Games present two Indias and one opportunity (September 23), a visit to Delhi lucidly illustrates how unprepared India is for the Commonwealth Games. The new international airport is swanky. But about 25 per cent is still under construction. Right outside the new airport is a massive mound of rubble and stone, an absolute eyesore for a new visitor to India. Delhi abounds with anecdotes of corruption. An estimated $10 billion has been spent on the infrastructure for the games, making it one of the most expensive in history. Yet, it is shocking that only five stadiums are new.

Where has all the money gone? There have been reports that the Commonwealth Committee has been buying toilet paper at $88 per roll. Will there be an audit by a professional accounting company of the expenses, invoices, quotations received and orders placed? Why have family members and friends of top officials connected with the Games been given construction and supply contracts? The really petrifying concern is that Indians take this corruption for granted and shrug it off. "Everyone is doing it" is becoming an excuse for condoning the colossal misuse of public money and transferring it to private pockets. Governance is gradually disappearing from the government.

It is interesting that senior leaders of the ruling party have maintained a discreet and politically expedient silence when leadership is the crying need of the hour.

Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai

Incubating new filmmakers 

Kaleem Aftab is to be commended for his fine profile of Peter Scarlet, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's executive director (A Study in Scarlet, September 28). I was particularly struck by Mr Scarlet's comments on the speed and scope of the film festival, now in its third year: "If we are serious - and we are - about inspiring a generation of filmmakers here, a lot of people think that they are starting a film industry. I tend not to agree with that; I think you don't start a film industry the way you start an automobile industry or refrigerator industry. It's not a question of having a factory."

There is great wisdom in these words which could and should be applied to the many creative enterprises being launched here. Art takes time. It doesn't take shortcuts . It's not a commodity whose progress can be branded, marketed and fast-tracked. Slowly does it. Mr Scarlet knows this and is not afraid to say so.

Denise Roig, Abu Dhabi

Shift from finance to trading hub 

I refer to the business article Dubai moves away from finance and property (September 28). It is no surprise that Dubai is coming out of a global real estate and financial services downturn and is sensibly focusing now on its traditional core strengths as a regional trading hub - much like what Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Shenzen and others have been doing in the Far East.

All such hubs have been through their own property booms and busts, a natural consequence of building infrastructure for the next economic wave. In fact, it is little reported that Singapore's GDP was down more than 11 per cent  in two quarters about a year and a half ago. The surprise is that Dubai is coming out of it so quickly, given the gloom and doom predictions of western pundits. The answer is simply the vision and perseverance of the leaders of Dubai who, unlike flailing politicians and financiers everywhere else, have kept their cool.

Athar Mian, Abu Dhabi

A plea to cover Aussie football 

I am not usually motivated to write letters to the editor; however I must say I am disappointed that there was no coverage of the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final last week. Your sports coverage is fair and it covers a diverse readership (81 per cent of our population is expatriate - not an easy job to satisfy everyone, I know). But can I just point out that AFL is, by far, our biggest sport in the land "down under"? Australian football has the highest participation rates, greatest gate revenues and best TV audience figures in the nation. Even in Abu Dhabi we have our own AFL team which has taken on the UAE emblem as an indicator that sport contributes to cultural awareness around the world (go Falcons!).

So it was disappointing not to get any coverage of that one day in September when much of the Australian nation stops in anticipation of sporting history. History was indeed made last weekend as the two teams fought out a well-deserved draw in what was a titanic battle. It was only the third time a draw has happened. So the teams will return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground again this Saturday for a decider match and this gives The National another crack at being part of history.

Steve Barnes, Abu Dhabi