London: Daily reports and images of mismanagement of the Commonwealth Games venues in New Delhi have shocked members of Britain's Indian community who, in recent years, reveled in glowing reports of a "rising India" and "incredible India".
The image of India in the British news media has slowly but surely changed from that of a land of snake charmers and the rope-trick, to that of a nuclear-capable economic power that has become a major investor and creator of jobs in Britain.
However, the recent blanket coverage across front pages and in prime time bulletins of the mismanagement of the Commonwealth Games has generated much ennui and anger among Indian professionals and others. Some, however, hope that in the end, all will be well on the day.
Photographs on News website showing 'paan'-stained basins, unhygienic bathrooms and environs next to the Games Village, and the collapsed footbridge have been widely seen, published and shown repeatedly on television.
Savyasaachi Jain, a London-based researcher, said:
"Just like in Jammu and Kashmir we messed up and allowed our critics abroad to exploit and ruin our image, the Commonwealth Games mess has also allowed many outside India to sully our image. Our system and politicians have failed us so badly".
Vijay Rana, editor of NRIfm.com, said: "VS Naipaul and Salman Rushdie have been writing about our cities exploding with filth and our legendary comfort level with it. But those pictures of the Games Village were embarrassing for any Indian, living in India or abroad. And the worst part was the Indian official who claimed that that was our standard of cleanliness".
Calling it a huge missed opportunity, Daya K Thussu, professor of international communications at the University of Westminster, said the mismanagement and corruption demonstrated how endemic the problems were in India.
He said: "The games could have signalled the arrival of India as a serious global player. However, one ought to be careful about the media hype especially in the UK - regarding the organisational skills of Indians. I think it will be alright on the day."
Lamenting the inability to put up a good show despite having seven years to prepare for the event, senior IT professional Ravi Bhushan Singh said: "It's not a nice feeling to see our country's name splashing every day in newspapers and news channels for the wrong reasons".
Singh added: "The Commonwealth Games event has made us a laughing stock before the world - incredible people of incredible India.
According to Sachdev Virdee, secretary of the Asian Rationalists Society of Britain, Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Organising Committee should be held responsible, and all those involved "should be brought to the public arena and should be punished accordingly".
Extensive coverage in the British news media of the Commonwealth Games from New Delhi has ensured that even those Indians and others who are not interested in sports follow the events that are being reported more on the front pages than in the Sports pages.