Historians, writers in favour of Indian president opening Commonwealth Games





NEW DELHI: Should Britain remain the pre-eminent nation in the Commonwealth when the world order has been turned upside down from the days when the "sun never set on the British Empire"? With controversy raging over who will declare CWG-2010 open -- representative of Queen Elizabeth or President Pratibha Patil -- the question has come to the fore with shades of the old debate over equations between the colonial master and the colonised resurfacing.

The verdict of historians, activists and social scientists is overwhelmingly in favour of the President doing the honours. Social psychologist Ashish Nandy and academic-activist Madhu Kishwar are the two contrarians who would like Prince Charles to inaugurate the Games. But their reasons are different. While Nandy thinks the President has shown no inclination towards sports, Prince Charles has done so and hence has better claims. Kishwar said the preparations had been such a mess that it was better if Prince Charles did it.

Be it Left historian K N Panikkar, former editor Kuldip Nayar, Delhi University vice-chancellor Deepak Pental or RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, all were unanimous that the time to shed the colonial burden had come. Panikar was categorical: "President of India should inaugurate the Games. In fact, wherever Commonwealth Games takes place, the head of state of that country should inaugurate it. Commonwealth is no longer conjugation of colonies and equality should be there among all nations."...


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