Government / Politics / Travel

Sanitation in India-Commonwealth Games 2010

BBC Sport has recently released photos captured of the hotels in athletes’ village in New Delhi, India –the location for the 2010 Commonwealth Games being held October 3rd to the 14th.   There has been much speculation about these photos as they depict unsanitary conditions, noted: by western standards, in places that many western teams are to be staying and interacting.  A public comment was recently released on the unsanitary conditions in India, reported by the New York Times , which angered Indian officials.   Surprisingly enough, this comment was not made by a Western-cultured citizen, but from an Indian official himself.

“The issue was reports of unsanitary conditions inside the athletes’ village, a facility promoted by Indian organizers as world class. Officials of the New Zealand team, arriving early, had been horrified at dirt-caked bathrooms and soiled rooms. The explanation offered by Lalit Bhanot, the second-ranking official on the organizing committee? Indians and Westerners have different standards of hygiene.”2

Sanitation is a common problem in many underdeveloped countries and is growing in awareness as communications widen and travel between different cultures becomes more frequent.  Many developing countries are seeking aid because they just do not have the capacity to reform so many infrastructures in so little time.  Much of Africa, Russia, and SouthEast Asia are plagued with Giardia Lamblia, a parasite that lives in unsanitary water and makes it impotable3.  Unsanitary conditions are not only a cultural ‘preference’ for most westerners but can lead to serious health issues requiring hospitalization. The reality is in India, these conditions are considered high-quality public residencies. Many families in India do not even have proper sanitary facilities. However, many higher class families will correct you in saying that private standards for cleanliness are not very high, it is public standards of hygiene that are below par2.

How can we assist countries in furthering their sanitation initiatives?  Having unsanitary conditions not only spreads disease and weakens a population, but it hinders tourism and foreign investment thus impeding the country’s own development.  How can we assist countries in furthering their sanitation initiatives?


This article was last updated on 30 September, 2010.

1.     “Commonwealth Games: Athlete’s Village”.  BBC Sport. 23 Sept 2010.

2.      “Games Official Angers India with Hygiene Comment”. New York Times. 24 Sept 2010.

3.     “Giardiasis”.  Medscape.


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