May 20, 2011, 11.41 AM | Source: Forbes India

Commonwealth Games 2010: Collateral Damage

Youngsters who worked to make the Delhi Commonwealth Games a success are unable to get jobs because of the corruption taint on it.

Commonwealth Games 2010: Collateral Damage
By: Dinesh Narayanan/ Forbes India

Youngsters who worked to make the Delhi Commonwealth Games a success are unable to get jobs because of the corruption taint on it.

As he was waiting along with about 100 job aspirants at a large information technology services company, 26-year-old Neeraj Gupta heard a company official call out for those who had worked with the Organising Committee (OC) of the Delhi Commonwealth Games (CWG) to step aside.

“There were about 10 of us. We thought we were going to get preferential treatment,’’ recalls Gupta. But what came was a shock. The official told them bluntly that the company would not hire them because they had worked in the OC.

Gupta left it as a one-off incident, but little did he realise that it would become a pattern. A few weeks later, he was selected as an IT manager at a mid-level firm and the human resources department even discussed his salary. However, the next day, a vice president of the company told him that they would not hire him because of his stint at the Games.

Several companies are refusing to entertain job-seekers who worked with the CWG OC. The corruption taint that has now smeared some of the top officials of the OC has percolated down to the junior most project officer.

Many youngsters, some of them straight out of college, had joined the OC, looking at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a mega project and proudly display the experience on their CVs. It, however, appears the experience certificate is more likely to shut doors for them.

“One company said that they would not consider it as work experience but just an adventure,” says Pradeep Kumar, a graduate from Delhi College of Engineering who got the OC job as part of campus placements.

Several youngsters who worked at the OC told Forbes India that they have faced difficulties in getting jobs because of their CWG assignment. While a few of them have been unambiguously told by prospective employers that they would not risk hiring people from the OC, others were given subtler hints. Many of them have landed jobs, though not always of their choice, but some are still searching.

Technology was defined as one of the key functional areas of the OC with a budget of over Rs. 320 crore and the division was responsible for the entire information and communication systems and services at all the venues and the Games Village.

The one-line task description does not capture the enormity of the job that was made near impossible by the inordinate delays in awarding contracts and completion of civil works. Gagan Singh, the venue manager for Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) stadium, where all the main athletics events were held, says that the technology operation plan was ready several months in advance. “The cable trays had to be laid but the civil work was not over,” he says. The trays had to be laid and then the cabling done; about 350 km of cables.

“What many people do not realise is that the team had to work doubly hard to get things ready on time.

The Games went off smoothly. It was an operational success,” says Harsh Kumar, OC’s joint director general for technology. Harsh Kumar, who is on deputation from the Railways, says he had a team of 160 people who practically worked round the clock towards the end to get things ready. Sometimes new additions were required at the last moment.

For instance, days before the Games were to begin, the OC’s media advisor told Harsh Kumar that, come what may, they should set up a fast Internet connection for the media. “It doesn’t matter how well you conduct the Games. If the media centre is not first-rate, you will get bad press,” he warned.

Harsh Kumar decided to set up a dedicated high-speed network where media persons could plug in their own computers at the venues. “We had to create a new network and it had to be de-linked from the Games Data Network and Security Data Network to isolate it in case of a problem,” says Harsh Kumar. It became operational in the nick of time.


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