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Impact Of The Commonwealth Games On New Delhi Tourism Essay

“Delhi Dilwaale” (New Delhi, the city with the heart) as it’s often called is the capital of India and is situated in the North, home to about 18 million people. While New Delhi today is considered a Global city, it currently ranks 45th in the world (Foreign Policy Index, 2010). Since the high ranking makes the city seem insignificant, it doesn’t answer the questions of New Delhi’s image as a global city. Mr. Deep Kapuria, chairman of Indian Industry (CII) states “By 2020 Delhi can become a better, global city only if its private and public sectors work together” (Indo Asian News Service, 2008). ). As a step in the right direction towards improving upon its ranking as a global city, New Delhi was fortunate to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The Indian delegation had argued that wealthy countries hosted the games too often and “developing countries” deserved a chance to host the games (CBC Sports, 2003). This was important to New Delhi’s future because the games brought forth a real opportunity for introducing major changes in the city in terms of its infrastructures, roads, airports, highways and transit systems. It brings forward the confidence of the developing nations in hosting such mega events. The hosting of the games marked an important step towards improving New Delhi’s global status because it was the first time a South Asian city had been elected for hosting an event at the international level. New Delhi was all over the headlines and it received a lot of global media coverage. Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, president of the Indian Olympic Association and chairman of the organizing committee stated “The people felt it was high time India got the Games” (CBC Sports, 2003). This essay will begin by giving a brief history of how New Delhi reached its position as a global city and then focus on how New Delhi has been affected by the commonwealth games in terms of infrastructure advancements, effects of the Games on New Delhi’s labor market as well as the measures taken by New Delhi to address environmental concerns. To add to that, the essay will also discuss some of the problems encountered at the games and how Delhi must deal with them to ensure they remain a global city.

New Delhi is one of the oldest urban regions, serving as political and commercial capital for the Mughal Empire. In 1911, British rulers moved the Indian capital from Calcutta to New Delhi. Several ancient buildings were torn down to make way for sprawling administrative district designed by architect Edward Lutyens (Lorinc, 2008). “Configured around majestic axes and imposing government buildings on a plain inspired by Washington, DC, New Delhi became an urban symbol of the British Raj”(Lorinc, 2006, p. 26). In 1927, the Parliament House, designed by Edward Lutyens and Herbert Baker was inaugurated and opened. By 1931, New Delhi opened the largest market and the leading commercial and business hub of the city, “The Connaught Place”, named after the Duke of Connaught (Gupta, Basu & Chattarji, 2003). Today, the Connaught place is truly an architectural gem and one of the most striking structures of New Delhi. From the finest restaurants to bars, to load of business and commercial activities, Connaught Place today is considered an absolute essential place for a tourist to visit and is considered to be the most `happening` place in the city(PUTSOURCE).


As stated in the report of the commonwealth games evaluation commission for the 2010 Commonwealth games, the city stressed that through the games, its number one priority was improving the city infrastructure. From the building of new stadiums and the construction of the games village, to project plans in the transport sectors, the Commonwealth games truly brought forth infrastructure advancements within the city and the neighbouring games village. The city’s airport, Indira Gandhi International Airport underwent several changes. A world-class terminal was opened at the airport, expected to entertain about 34 million passengers a year. At the opening ceremony of the terminal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated, “This airport terminal establishes new global benchmarks. It also exemplifies our country’s resolve to bridge and bridge fast enough the infrastructure deficit in our country” (680News, 2010(article)). The roads themselves underwent major changes, from the widening and resurfacing of the roads, to the addition of more lanes for the purposes of controlling traffic congestion. The Games Village that housed the athletes was built over a 63.5 hectare area also offered training grounds for athletes participating in athletics, Aquatics, Weightlifting and wrestling.( This village, built in East Delhi at the Yamuna riverfront, which has been neglected until the preparation of the games, underwent major urban spurt in order to meet world class standards. Today, this place looks no different from a prime real estate (Uppal, 2009). The village itself offers facilities such as post services, banks, bars, cafeteria and gym and was created with intention to allow the athletes to rejuvenate themselves and get refreshed after participating in events during the day. Louise Pugh-Bevan, player of the Wales Hockey team said that `The actual facilities are clean and satisfactory standards, and we are pleased with the accommodation`(BBC News, 2010). The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, venue of the opening and closing ceremonies, underwent major renovations costing the city a whopping Rs 9.6 billion (Times of India, 2010).

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However prior to the games, there were several events which threatened the progression of the games. “More than a year ago, audits warned that preparations for the games were shamefully behind schedule. “Slackness in addressing these challenges may create major embarrassments for the country, one report added” (Yardley, 2010, p.A.6). On Sept 21st, 2010, a footbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium collapsed, injuring 23 workers, 5 of which were in serious condition. Following this event, Phillips Idowu, a British triple jumper athlete pulled out from the games and publicly on twitter he said “My safety is more important to them than a medal”(SkyNewsHD, 2010). Upon closer analysis of the situation, the TV footage showed that the collapse occurred due to a construction failure and simply because of the engineers’ non adherence to basic civil engineering rules (Mail Today, 2010).

In addition to that, the building of new infrastructures and roads required demolition of existing illegal structures. A slum can be defined as one illegal structure with poor and informal housing and having a threat of being destroyed (Davis, 2004). This was one of the drawbacks in infrastructure advancements. The problem was that the slum dwellers were getting displaced from their homes and in exchange were not getting relocated. Human rights campaigners argued that the Indian government was sweeping slum dwellers and beggars off the streets in an attempt to beautify the city. The question goes back to New Delhi. While the infrastructure advancements certainly give an appeal to the city and attract foreigners, the fact is that it comes at a cost and in doing so, New Delhi needs to think if global city status is more important at the expense of the local poor class families.


The labor market of New Delhi also had a huge impact due to the hosting of these games. As a direct consequence of construction boom in New Delhi, around 1 million migrant workers entered Delhi from neighboring cities such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (Sengupta, 2010). These three cities are among the poorest in the country and most of these migrants work under a corrupt labour system whereby they get paid less money for their effort. New Delhi offered these migrant workers an opportunity to earn a higher income and get credited respectably for the work they put in. From airport upgrades to the expansion of the metro, all the way to the constructions near the games village, each of these advancements have created approximately two and a half million job opportunities. A study conducted by Building and Woodworkers International suggested that about 300 000 workers were needed, among which include 10000 women and 20000 migrant children. Also, the commonwealth games are part of the construction boom which will grow the domestic construction industry by 50 billion USD a year by 2012 (Source: “India’s Construction Industry: Growth, Opportunity & Constraints”, ASSOCHAM),

In India, there is no shortage of human labour. These migrant workers were working frantically to finish projects by the start of the games. Living in squalid conditions, some of these workers were unaware that their job is temporary. Promised a better income upon arrival in New Delhi, the use of these migrant workers was no different from exploitation because they were used for the purposes of speeding up the construction in the games.


The 2010 Commonwealth Games was pronounced as “Green Commonwealth Games”. Water shortage has always been a problem in New Delhi due to lack of accountability and that around 50% of the available water is lost (Yadav, 2006). To deal with this issue, New Delhi installed a new water distribution system in East Delhi where the games were located and also upgraded a new water treatment plant at the Games village to ensure clean water supply for the athletes( A new sewage system was also put into place to prevent flow of sewage wastes onto the roads in case of flooding which in turn will keep the roads clean. Added provisions for more toilets in public spaces also help keep roads clean as it prevents the poor class from defecating on the roads. The Thyagaraj stadium, New Delhi and India’s first eco-friendly green stadium offers features such as rainwater harvesting systems and the harnessing of solar energy. To add to that, the Rajghat power station in New Delhi was closed a month prior to the games as part of the government’s plan towards cleaning up the air before the games( To address environmental concerns, the Organizing Committee of the CWG held a low carbon fair in Shimla in July as well as held a transportation rally of bicycles and electric cars to raise awareness about reducing the pollution levels. In doing so, New Delhi is taking a step towards becoming a better global city by addressing such issues publicly and making an attempt to better itself as a city. While there were also negative environmental impacts such as deforestation in order to construct the Games village, New Delhi has done a fantastic job in alerting the public and taking extreme measures to improve the environmental standards and the overall living in the city.

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Future Forecasts

In the upcoming years, New Delhi will have to go through a lot more changes if it wants to aim to become a better global city by 2020. The World Urbanization Prospects report predicts that the population of New Delhi will reach approximately 28.6 million by 2025 (World Urbanization Prospects, 2009). Since the population is expected to increase, there can be several changes expected in the city. If New Delhi wants to improve as a global city, it needs to continue building advanced infrastructures and eye appealing structures that will not only be a gateway to tourism, but will also improve the lifestyle of the locals within the city. The labour market sector will take a hit because an increase in the population will correspond to a reduction in job opportunities. Also, as New Delhi advances to its better global city dream, it will become much more difficult for migrant workers to settle in New Delhi. These workers who are naïve to the idea of a high class global city will face problems trying to find a job in the city and getting accustomed to the fast paced city life. New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) reports that New Delhi is one of the nation’s most polluted cities (NDTV News, 2009). If Delhi wants to improve as a global city, it needs to undertake several tasks. One possible solution is mandating annual pollution checks for old vehicles and getting those vehicles that fail the test off the roads. Another viable solution New Delhi can consider is regulating Carbon emission levels for various power plants across the city to ensure safe air quality and living standards within the city. Also, with the increasing population and modernizing of the city, living will become much more expensive and New Delhi will have to

As Saskia Sassen (1991) states, “Global cities are places that other countries are looking upto”. For future commonwealth games that are held in South Asia, countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will look upto New Delhi’s performance and will look to avoid the mistakes made by New Delhi.


1) Macionis, J, & Parrillo, V. (2001). Cities and Urban Life. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

2) Lorinc, J. (2008). Groundwork Guide: Cities. (1st ed.). Toronto (ON): Groundwood Books


4) BBC News (2010, September 26). Positive News from New Delhi Commonwealth Games: [Video file].  Video posted to

5) SkyNews HD (2010, September 22).

6) ‘ RUSH JOB MAY HAVE LED TO MISHAP’. (2010, September 22). Mail Today,[Page 1].  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 2143297901). Accessible from:

7) Jim Yardley.  (2010, October 3). As Global Games Begin, India Hopes for Chance To Save National Pride :[Foreign Desk]. New York Times  (Late Edition (east Coast)),  p. A.6.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Banking Information Source. (Document ID: 2152454511). Accessible from:

8) Davis, M. (2004) “Planet of slums,” New Left Review, 26, p 13

9) Sengupta, Mitu

10) delhi most polluted (tourism disaster?)


1st paragraph- historical development (how delhi was developed and how it reached position of global city)

2nd paragraph-move into the commonwealth games(talk about infrastructure developments today)

3rd paragraph-talk more about infrastructures

4th paragraph-what happened to the slums and poor areas due to the games

5th paragraph – effects of tourism reflected by the games

6th paragraph – more on tourism

7th paragraph – effects on Delhi`s Labor Market

8th paragraph-problems at the games and what Delhi has to do in future if it wants to remain a global city–india-unveils-new-multibillion-dollar-airport-terminal-as-part-of-infrastructure-push

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