Monday, September 20, 2010

CW Games gets yet another theme song

Saara jahan hua ek re, India mein lag gaya mela re. The lines above are from the song Come out and play, Balle Balle, composed and sung by Anand Raj Anand, for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. The fifth in a long line of compositions, Anand’s is another example of how the sports extravaganza is spawning a virtual mela of songs.

Quite literally, there seems to be a new song for and about the Games, every other day.

Sample the four previous Games songs: Oh yaaro, yeh India bula liya by A.R. Rahman, Dilli Meri Jaan by Palash Sen of Euphoria, Khel Le by Daler Mehandi and Chak De Shera (a trilingual song) by singers Shibani Kashyap, Vikramjit Singh Sahney and Milind.

Anand’s album, titled ‘Common Man’s Tribute to Commonwealth Games 2010’ is the latest addition to the list. The singer, whose songs were unveiled on Monday, said the songs were his tribute to the Games and he will be performing both numbers at the opening ceremony.

“No one told me anything, I composed the songs on my own. It is a very prestigious event and I felt we needed songs that the common people could connect to,” he said.

Making a veiled reference to the recent controversy surrounding the theme song composed by Rahman, which was widely criticised and later tweaked and made peppier, Anand quipped, “Jis film ka gana hit nahi hota, who film chalti nahi.” However, in the race for composing songs for the Games, what has instead ensued is cacophony.

“I really cannot understand which is the real song for the Games. The Football World Cup had one peppy song — Waka Waka — which everyone was humming,” said Nida Khan, a student.

“But with so many songs being composed for the Games, I am confused,” she lamented.

Delhi athletes' village 'seriously compromsed'

COMMONWEALTH Games Federation president Michael Fennell has expressed grave concern about the athletes' village in Delhi, saying the facility is "seriously compromised".The state of the village has “shocked” many team officials ahead of the October 3-14 Games in the Indian capital, Fennell said.

“Many issues remain unresolved,” Fennell said in a statement.

“Many nations that have already sent their advanced parties to set up within the village have made it abundantly clear that ... the Commonwealth Games village is seriously compromised.

“ ... The condition of the residential zone has shocked the majority ... significant operational matters remained unaddressed.”

Fennell has written to the Indian government, imploring the immediate deployment of resources to fix problems, without elaborating on the specific nature of the issues.

Fennell also said he would travel to Delhi at the earliest opportunity to “provide our member countries and territories with a frank assessment of the situation”.

The federation's chief executive, Mike Hooper, visited the village last Wednesday.

“Final preparations for the village have been a concern to the CGF since viewing the residential zone,” Fennell said.

“The village is the cornerstone of any Games and the athletes deserve the best possible environment to prepare for their competition.”

He said security around the village was paramount.

“The problems are arising because deadlines for the completion of the village have been consistently pushed out,” Fennell said.

“Now, the high security around the site, while vital, is slowing progress and complicating solutions.

“Security remains of the utmost importance to the CGF and our advisors continue to monitor the situation. Currently, this matter remains on track.”

The Times of India newspaper reported just 18 of the 34 residential towers were completed.

Delegates from NZ, Canada, Scotland and Ireland had objected strongly to “unliveable” conditions, with newspaper sources saying apartments were left unlocked during the day and were regularly accessed by labourers.

Toilets were a “mess”, while fixtures and fittings were still to be provided, the newspaper reported.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee was among nations to criticise village accommodation as “sub-standard”.

Games organisers offered an alternative apartment building in the village, which NZ chef de mission Dave Currie accepted as conditions were superior.

“While cleanliness had been a concern for us, further inspection has revealed some issues with plumbing, wiring, internet access and mobile phone coverage,” Currie said in a statement.

“We will now be advising sports that the accommodation is less than expected.

“While our new tower may be close to being ready, there are large sections of the village that are not yet ready for athlete arrival.”

Delhi Slum Razed to Avoid Offending Luxury Hotel Guests

A squatter settlement housing more than 2000 people adjacent to a new five-star hotel in Delhi has been demolished two weeks before the city hosts the Commonwealth Games.

Residents of the Netaji Nagar slum were furious at being thrown out of their homes before the Games, which organisers hope will showcase the Indian capital.

''You will play games while we will die,'' Mohammad Sajjad, a vegetable vendor who lived in the slum told The Age as he sifted through the ruins of his home.

The squatter settlement was metres from an ultra-luxury 260-room hotel, the Leela Palace Kempinski, which is expected to open on October 1, two days before the Games begin. The hotel is believed to be one of the most expensive ever built in India, with a price tag of about $A400 million.

The slum, which has been there for 30 years, was near several Games venues including the tennis arena and the main Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that will host the opening ceremony on October 3. It was also on a major road with a designated transport lane, meaning athletes, officials and dignitaries would have driven past it while travelling to and from some events.

Authorities had given notice that Netaji Nagar slum was due for demolition but residents claimed they were not given enough time to vacate before their houses were flattened by earthmovers on Friday evening.

''This has been my home for 25 years but now I've lost everything,'' a furious labourer, Basant Paswan, told The Age.

Hundreds of police were on hand to ensure the security of the demolition workers and officers from the local municipal authority. A mosque and several Hindu shrines were the only things left standing.

Displaced slum families crowded onto a roadside pavement with their possessions while heavy equipment reduced the densely populated settlement to rubble.

One of those who lost his home, 50-year-old Vijay Pal, sat on a steel trunk, surrounded by the household items he and his wife, Savitri, had been able to retrieve. ''We don't have any place to go,'' he said holding back tears. ''Where will my family live from now?''

At Pragati Maidan, a plush media centre for journalists

A sure shot way to impress participating countries is to impress their media. The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has taken that to heart, as was apparent with the inauguration of a plush Media Centre at Pragati Maidan on Monday. Billed as the “largest media centre in the history of the Commonwealth Games”, the centre is expected to draw a contingent of nearly 2,000 mediapersons, and will open for operations on September 23. The centre will be run by the Press Information Bureau, and is located at Hall No 12 and 12 A of Pragati Maidan.
Spread across 6,700 square metres, the Main Press Centre (MPC), which will remain open 24 hours a day, was inaugurated on Monday by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

It comes equipped with a Central Work Area that holds 600 work stations, as well as a separate sections for mediapersons who wish to use the wi-fi network for their laptops.

Six news and photo agencies — Getty Images, Agency France Presse, Associated Press, Australian Associated Press, News Limited and Press Association — have been allotted personal offices to function from Pragati Maidan for the duration of the Games. The MPC also has a 300-seat Press Conference Room, and a 100-seat press briefing room. There is even a post office inside the centre to be run by the Indian Postal Service.

Helpdesks are scattered throughout the lobby, and mediapersons planning to travel during or after the Games can directly book tickets from the travel desk at the MPC. A large media lounge-cum-cafetaria will serve meals throughout the day. Television screens adorn nearly every wall. A convenience store, a pharmacy, a mobile store, as well as a bank with foreign exchange services are located in the centre.

Ahead of Games, MCD’s first info café launched

Visitors arriving in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games will soon be able to grab a quick bite and get tourism-related information about the city, at one go. On Monday, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) launched the first of 40 tourist information-cum-food kiosks in the city. Named
‘tourist info-café’, the first such kiosk was unveiled by Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney near the Red Fort. “Such kiosks will help foreign tourists during the Games and contribute towards increasing the popularity of Delhi as a tourist attraction,” said Sawhney.

The MCD will install 30 such tourist info-cafés in the next three days in its area, while the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will also set up 10 such kiosks in areas under its jurisdiction.

The tourist info-cafés, installed by Ved Pohoja Associates, a private firm, with support from MCD, will have touchscreens to provide information in eight Indian and foreign languages about tourist attractions in Delhi, its culture and heritage, shopping hotspots, food, accommodation and nightlife.

Data from the kiosks can be downloaded using bluetooth technology.

“These kiosks will also offer street food and beverages of Delhi, which will be safe and hygienic. In this particular stall, which is near Chandni Chowk, the famous parathas, chaat, jalebi and lassi of the walled city will be available,” said Amiya Chandra, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Remunerative Project Cell, MCD.

Undertaken in the public-private partnership mode, “The stalls will be operational for 100 days. After that, they will be transferred to the MCD, which will use them as government-to-citizen kiosks,” added Chandra.

Four countries issue travel advisories

The UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have issued travel advisories to its citizens warning them against a high risk of terror attack ahead of the Commonwealth Games next month. “There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India. Terrorists have targeted places in the past which westerners are known to visit including public places such as restaurants, hotels, railway stations, markets and places of worship,” the UK advisory said. In its latest travel advisory, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said, “Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in an environment where there is a high risk of terrorism.”

Indian flavour snacks on Games menu

As Delhi gears up for the Commonwealth Games 2010, in the list of other things players can now be assured of healthy snack-breaks with Indian flavour at the stadia.
For the biggest sporting extravaganza in the country, the underlying flavour seems to be Indian with caterers spreading out an array of regional cuisines in their elaborate menu.

"It does not make any sense, if athletes come to India and do not taste Indian food. That is why, respecting the varied taste buds of athletes from diverse nationalities, our team plans to provide them a flavour of India,'' said Raman Mehra, CEO, Graviss Hospitality, the company that won the contract to cater to all the lounges at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue for the Delhi Games.

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