Stumbling through a minefield of allegations and controversies, the Indian Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (ICGOC) has been hit with another, very serious, allegation: racism.
Malaysian experts hired by the ICGOC in various roles, from press operations to venue and sports management, have alleged that they are being treated as second class citizens compared to those hired from Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and even Singapore.
The Hindustan Times has gained access to an email sent by Tony Mariadass, who was working as Director of Press Operations at the ICGOC, to the chief of the Olympic Council of Malaysia last month. He wrote:
“I felt ashamed being here as a Malaysian. His (white commonwealth volunteer) apartment is about five or six times the size of our flat. Do we have to endure this discrimination? The ‘whites’ have bigger apartments, some with four rooms! Working conditions have been very poor with no respect for us Malaysians.”
Mariadass resigned and returned to Malaysia. In a separate official resignation letter, he said his Indian boss had told him to “get out of his cabin”. The letter continued:
“He (the boss) further abused me to go back to Malaysia and said I am a cranky old man who does not do any work (sic). I will not stand this kind of abuse, especially when I am hired here for my experience.”
The letter is marked to a number of senior ICGOC officials. Two other director-level foreign officials (both white) with similar responsibilities have been given houses in the upmarket south Delhi localities of Defence Colony and Vasant Vihar. Lalit Bhanot, the ICGOC’s secretary general, refuted the charge of racism:
“Now that there are stories circulating in the media, everyone wants to put in their version. There’s been no racism whatsoever.”
The charge of racism has opened another can of worms. There are suggestion that not only are Malysians being offered inferior quality accommodation but in addition the ICGOC are being over charged by unscrupulous landlords. Of the six flats the ICGOC has rented from Nov 2009-2010, the rent comes to 39,60,000 Rupees. Brokers in the area said rent for similar flats was never higher than 15,000 Rupees.
With India hosting representatives form all over the sporting world for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games ensuring that all those in attendance are treated equally will be an urgent priority.