Postcard from New Delhi

The Commonwealth Games were meant to showcase the new greatness of a developing India. But they have become a source of deep anger instead

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Manpreet Romana AFP/Getty Images

Indian workers dismantle the collapsed footbridge at the Jawaharlal Stadium, the main venue for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, in New Delhi on September 21, 2010. A footbridge under construction at the main stadium for the Delhi Commonwealth Games collapsed, injuring up to six labourers, an AFP reporter and police said. The structure, a steel arch supporting an approximately 50 metres (164 feet) footbridge, fell down just outside the main Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which will host the opening ceremony and athletics when the showpiece event begins on October

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Indian politicians have been pleading for New Delhi's residents to come together and put on a good show for the world. But the city is having none of it. A band of graffiti artists have taken to the streets, tagging construction sites with slogans like "I hope the Games are a disaster." Instead of buying tickets to the sporting events, families who can afford it are booking "Commonwealth Games escape" packages out of town.

The city has been transformed by the Games in an unexpected way. New Delhi's rich and poor are finally united, if only in their hatred for the Games' inept management and their love for the event's one lasting legacy: an expanded metro system. Will New Delhi's righteous anger evolve into a sustained resolve to hold its leaders accountable? The city has already taken the first step on that long yellow brick road. Like Dorothy and her companions, New Delhi's residents may well find hidden reserves of wit, compassion and courage. Who needs the Wizard?

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