Thursday, May 20, 2010

Indians proudly welcome Games baton in New Zealand

Auckland’s Indian community welcomed the Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 Queen’s Baton in New Zealand at a small ceremony and a relay run at the Manukau Square

Though an appeal was made for twenty runners to participate in the ceremony, far more turned up and proudly carried the exquisitely designed baton around the square in a relay run. A diverse range of people children, youth, middle age and the elderly from various Indian communities participated in the run.

Speaking at the event, Jagmohan Bhanot, the Organizing Committee’s Officer on Special Duty for Communications said this year’s Games would be the biggest and best ever and outlined the preparations.

A whole new world class terminal was being built at New Delhi’s international airport for the occasion and would be inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on July 7, he said.

The renovated Jawaharlal Nehru stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies besides other sporting events like boxing will be held has also been completed along with five other major sporting venues. The Games village was also complete, he said.

Some 40,000 rooms were being readied to receive over 100,000 guests expected to arrive from all over the world to watch the games and dedicated subcommittees for nearly every aspect of organization were geared to make the Games successful and memorable he said.

Speaking to Indian Weekender exclusively the previous evening, Mr Bhanot allayed fears of security that have been expressed in the New Zealand media. He acknowledged that there was a concern about security and it needed to be strengthened. But countries had sent in their representatives for security audits and leading nations had found them to be satisfactory, he said.

“There is no truth that there is fear in any quarter about the safety at the Games. The UK has announced last week that it will send its largest ever contingent and Australia has said it has reviewed the arrangements in India. Chef de Missions of the 71 participating countries were in Delhi last month and have announced that after reviewing security arrangements they are fully satisfied,” he added.

He also clarified any doubts raised in the media from time to time about the facilities being ready on time.

“There is no question of that happening,” he said, pointing to the rapid progress made in completing the sporting and other infrastructure including the new airport terminal and refurbishment of hotels in the past few months.

Mr Bhanot was in the country as a representative of the Games Organizing Committee. MP Kanwaljit Bakshi, Deputy Indian High Commissioner Kunal Roy and several community leaders were also present at the event that was organized and coordinated by Sunil Kaushal of ANZ National Bank.

The Commonwealth Games' Queen's Baton began its 170,000 km journey around the world’s Commonwealth nations when the Queen handed it over to the President of India Smt Pratibha Patil at a ceremony in London on October 29 last year.

It reached New Zealand on Monday as part of its journey through 71 countries. The baton will conclude its round-the-world run when it re-enters India through Pakistan at the Wagah border on June 25 and continues on its last leg of 20,000 km through the states of India. The Commonwealth Games begin in Delhi on October 3.

Unlike previous batons, this one, designed in India, is a hi tech piece of equipment that has elements that change color according to the flag colors of the host country that it is visiting guided by a GPRS device. It also has a camera and a voice recorder capturing events around the world.

The Auckland Indian Association is also hosting the public viewing of the Queen Baton (today) Tuesday, May 18, from 4-6pm at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, Auckland Indian Association, 145 New North Road , Eden Terrace, Mt Eden, Auckland

For more information on the Delhi 2010 Queens Baton Relay and to keep up to date on the Batons progress please visit