Remaking the “World-Class City”: The Commonwealth Games as media Event in ‘Emerging India.’

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This article examines the Delhi Commonwealth Games as a media event that facilitated the creation of a divided ‘global city’ at a time when India is celebrated as a rising economic power. The remaking of the capital city of Delhi promised employment and inclusion for India’s subaltern majority. However, the neo-liberal state in conjunction with powerful corporations was involved in accelerated processes of land grabs that dispossessed many urban poor communities. The English-language press was a powerful force in emphasizing deadlines for urban projects and manufacturing consent for unequal modernization through the spectacle of the Games. ‘India Emerging’ was a common frame used by the international media to point to India’s economic success and to simultaneously question its ability to modernize. The international and national media played a vital role in mobilizing elite support for beautification projects while mainly remaining silent on violent processes of urban cleansing. Further, news frames focused on ‘squalor’ and ‘shame’ associated with a narrow understanding of ‘corruption’ that denied the voices of marginalized communities in the city. It is vital to locate the relationship between sports media events and stratified host cities to understand contemporary debates about contested processes of globalization.