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The Commonwealth Games and India’s Global Image

This week’s shooting of two tourists in front of Delhi’s Jama Masjid drew a great deal of unwanted attention just days before the Commonwealth Games, expected to bring some 8,000 athletes and 100,000 tourists to India beginning on October 3rd. The security fears exacerbated existing worries that New Delhi won’t be ready in time (a footbridge collapsed Tuesday, for example, injuring 27 people).

After the incident, Australia warned its citizens of a “high risk of terrorism” at the games and the United States issued a travel advisory. At least three major British athletes pulled out of the games, with one quoted in the Guardian saying, “Sorry people, but I have children to think about…. My safety is more important to them than a medal.” The terrorist organization Indian Mujahadeen reportedly promised a “great surprise” for October. And today’s Asia Times reports from Pakistan that Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations are planning to use ongoing unrest in Kashmir and the international attention of the Commonwealth Games to bring India into their “broader regional theater.”

Yet this incident–whether it turns out to be a terrorist act or not–is just the latest in a series of events that reflects both India’s internal security problem and the country’s global image problem.

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