Commonwealth countdown begins with spectacular show at India Gate

The Tricolour reflected off the imposing façade of India Gate,a giant inflatable Commonwealth Games 2010 mascot,laser displays...

Written by Mandakini Gahlot | New Delhi | Published:March 9, 2009 1:16 am

The Tricolour reflected off the imposing façade of India Gate,a giant inflatable Commonwealth Games 2010 mascot,laser displays,fireworks and “angels” in the sky marked the unveiling of the Queen’s Baton on Sunday evening.

India Gate formed the backdrop of a formidable display of pomp,and festivity as the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi,Tejendra Khanna,formally unveiled a prototype of the Queen’s Baton on the eve of Commonwealth Day.

The Baton will begin its journey from the Buckingham Palace in November 2009 and travel across 70 countries over 245 days before finally entering India for its last leg.

The Queen’s Baton will enter India 100 days before the Commonwealth Games start in October 2010,marking the official countdown to the Games.

The atmosphere was carnival-like as thousands of people descended upon India Gate to participate in the festivities.

Amidst heightened security,various dignitaries,high commissioners of Commonwealth countries,athletes and the general public witnessed the programme put together by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC).

The highlight of the evening was a display by the troupe from Toll Theatre London that descended from hi-tech cranes to hand over the Baton to the 2010 mascot.

Bharatnatyam and Kathak performances too were part of the programme. The L-G addressed the crowds on “two important issues,” — the completion of projects related to the Commonwealth Games and security.

“Doubts have been expressed over whether infrastructure for the Games will be in place in time. I assure you that all projects will be completed well in time. Every project is being closely monitored by the Chief Minister,Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary,” Khanna said.

Addressing the equally crucial question of security,particularly in the light of the recent attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore,the L-G said,“I assure you that we will have a peaceful and secure Commonwealth Games. None of our visitors should be apprehensive about security.”

The Queen’s Baton is designed to display “multilayered soils from all over India,showcasing the diversity in the country through the variety of soil colours.” The Baton will have state of the art technological features such as GPS,SMS — affording instant interaction with the public,an inbuilt camera,sound recording facilities and LED lights that will represent the colours of the country that the baton is in.

For many of the spectators,it was an evening to remember. “The show was grand,and more importantly,it went off without any untoward incident. If we manage to pull off the Commonwealth Games as efficiently as the programme this evening,it will be commendable,” said Amit King,a resident of Gurgaon who had come especially to witness the proceedings.

Funds for police
The Home Ministry has sanctioned Rs 78.26 crore for the Delhi Police to upgrade its equipment to ensure foolproof security during the Commonwealth Games. The money has been sanctioned to procure additional security equipment like X-ray scanners,door-frame metal detectors,hand-held metal detectors,communication equipment and vehicles. An Empowered Security Committee,headed by the Union Home Secretary,and a Commonwealth Games Security Review Committee have been constituted by the Home Ministry to review the security.

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