India has taken a while to shrug off one particular moniker. One that stuck with it for quite a while. For many a foreigner, India was nothing but a land of snake charmers for a very long time. On the other hand, many back here in the country found that quite unusual. Most people had nothing to do with snake charming or snake charmers for that matter. But as they say, first impressions are sometimes last impressions.
However, the developed world's notion of what India stands for has been changing off late. The country has been finding itself at a cross roads. It is being increasingly recognised as a rapidly growing country with rising economic clout.
Following this long delayed transition in peoples' impression of India, tons of global companies have been becoming willing to invest in the country. Such foreign investments in capacity creation and infrastructure are absolutely essential if India is to continue growing at a fast clip. Seems like how the world sees us is an extremely important component of the India growth story.
It wouldn't be far from the truth to say that India's outright enthusiasm to host the Common Wealth Games (CWG) also started with this in mind. It was an attempt to showcase India's progressive attitude towards development. And to increase the level of interest that the rest of the world has in it. But such noble intentions are fast becoming nothing short of a disaster.
With the scams and scandals that have engulfed the games, we now run the risk of solidifying India's impression in quite an opposite sense. The entire episode now reeks of corruption. And since the irregularities have come to light, not a single mention of Delhi's CWGs has been a positive one.
The world is indeed watching. The countdown to the games has begun. Embarrassment on a global stage may be just around the corner.
Human nature is such that we all like jumping to conclusions. And we like having biases about everything. We just need a vivid mental image about a particular thing to hook on to, and we will not mind carrying that image for a long long time.
With a scam of such humongous proportions, we hope that the image that the world carries is not that of India as the land of corruption. That too in an area like infrastructure. Because that's one area where India is most in need of foreign capital. Capital that has just barely begun to come out of its reluctance of investing in a 'developing country' like India. The last thing we need right now is to scare it away once again.