It took one evening of a grand spectacle of India’s cultural and traditional might on October 3, 2010, to silence all critics who have been badly bashing the Delhi Commonwealth Games. In the months leading to the inauguration of the Games, the media has been carrying nothing but stories of shoddy preparations, massive corruption, security concerns, unhygienic conditions, collapsing structures, et al. But, as they say, all’s well that ends well – or in this case – begins well.
The cultural medley presented at the three-hour long opening ceremony left everyone spellbound – the spectators at the packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as well as the millions watching it on television around the world. The humongous CWG aerostat, unveiled at the inauguration ceremony was also a star attraction.
And overnight, all media, including newspapers, have taken a U-turn on their earlier stance of extreme criticism and can’t stop singing praises of the flawless performances, the breathtaking JNL stadium, even the uniform worn by the huge Indian Games contingent. So much so that even the ongoing India-Australia cricket series coverage took a back seat amidst the picturesque description in newspapers of the grand CWG opening ceremony.
In the English newspaper domain, The Times of India’s October 4, 2010 issue pointed out the brilliance of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony with the front-page headline saying ‘Finally, Delhi Dazzles’. The lead story of TOI illustrated the brilliant ceremony and stated: “In the end, it turned out like a perfect Indian wedding.” However, TOI did not forget to mention the Metro and security chaos that the Games had created in the story headlined ‘Spectators brave Metro, security chaos’.
Hindustan Times’ lead story, headlined ‘A spectacular start’ said it all on the historic Games’ opening ceremony. “You can feel the opening ceremony’s boundless, relentless energy. When thousands of voices roar in unison and the air reverberates with a force that connects to your core”, said the lead story of HT on October 4, 2010. HT, too, didn’t forget to mention the glitches in the new Metro line to Sarita Vihar and the strict security blanket over the National Capital in its story headlined ‘Strict curbs make Delhi ghost town’.
Along with the front page and three sports pages, HT devoted a total five pages to CWG news coverage, while TOI’s CWG coverage spanned over the front page as well as four sports pages, a total of six pages.
Not to be left behind, Hindi newspapers allocated more pages to CWG coverage than the English newspapers. On its October 4, 2010 issue, Hindustan devoted no less than 14 pages to CWG with the middle page carrying photos of the mega inaugural event. Besides the first page, the paper’s Science and Technology page described how new techniques were being introduced in CWG. Moreover, its business page also talked about that how CWG could give a boost to the Indian economy.
Hindi daily Dainik Jagran came up with eight-page coverage of CWG, out of the total 22 pages of its issue on October 4, 2010. The India-Australia cricket series was pushed to the last page. CWG news hijacked the Jagran City supplement too, with its front page filled with news of the opening ceremony.
The top half of the front page of NavBharat Times was also dominated by the Games news. Of the total 16 pages of its issue dated October 4, 2010, 11 were devoted to CWG alone.
With alluring inaugural event picture covering the masthead of the newspaper, Dainik Bhaskar came up with six pages (out of the 16) devoted to CWG news. The second page of the newspaper was packed with the attractive photos of the opening ceremony. The paper, too, had only a tiny space to spare for the India-Australia cricket series in its sports page.
Punjab Kesari, which carried an ad on its front page to woo advertisers during CWG with special discounted ad rates, offered 10 pages to Games news. However, the front page coverage of newspaper looked insufficient as compared to other Hindi newspapers. Unlike most of the dailies, the front page was devoted to the Ayodhya verdict even after four days after the Allahabad High Court gave its verdict.
India’s shame has turned into India’s pride as the opening ceremony showcased the best that India has to offer. Now, of course, India’s performance at the Games will play a big role in sustaining reader interest and dominating column space. CWG coverage will undoubtedly dominate the sports pages over the next 12 days.
**All mentioned newspapers in the story are Delhi editions.
(With additional inputs by Akash Raha)