The newspapers have been filled with reports about the Commonwealth Games these past few days. Reading them, I am struck by the fact that the Games offer us an opportunity of observing examples of many interesting Laws and Principles.


1. The Dilbert Principle – The basic concept of the Dilbert Principle is that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.

In the case of the Commonwealth Games, we can observe the managing done by the Group of Ministers, their duty being to advise or make suggestions. The GOM had the very important job of approving A R Rehman’s CWG theme song.

The GOM also insisted on “Islamic elements” in the ceremonies. They also demanded  ‘some Buddhist elements’, as well as “Audible and identifiable” dohas by Kabir.

The organisers had proposed a “peppy version” of ‘Vande Mataram’ for the closing ceremony. The all-important decision was taken by the GOM- ‘who, however, told the organisers not to “deviate from the original character” of the song.’

2. Murphy’s Law – “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.

The news reports gave detailed accounts of dogs and snakes in the CWG village, leaking roofs, incomplete construction on sites, and collapse of a foot over-bridge near the main Games venue.

3. Parkinson’s Law – “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

The Organising Committee had years to prepare for the games, but most of the work was done in a haphazard manner, during the last few months.

While attempting to explain why this happened the Committee members demonstrated variations of-

4. –Boren’s Laws –

——a. When in doubt, mumble,

——b. When in trouble, delegate.

——c. When in charge, ponder.

An excellent example of Boren’s laws was given by Suresh Kalmadi, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games- He attempted to explain-

There was definitely a delay in handing over the venues…these are well established facts… most of the venues we got late… the OC which has to do overlaying and other final touches got delayed in getting the venues… when you get venues late naturally there would be problems.”

However, it is possible to end this list of laws on a heartening note.

5.  Law of Unintended Consequences – Actions of people—and especially of government—often have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.

One would have expected that seeing the mess that the CWG had become, Indians would become disheartened. They would not try to salvage the games but resign themselves to have the games become a total failure.

That, however did not happen. The collapsed foot over-bridge was re-constructed by the Army in a record time of six days.

The living quarters  for the athletes were cleaned up, and participating athletes conveyed that the facilities at the Games were quite good.

Security measures were reviewed. A tight air defence blanket thrown over the city for the Commonwealth Games  factored in all security threats.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit  then declared that Delhi was ‘absolutely ready’ for the Commonwealth Games. 

So here’s hoping that the Games are conducted successfully and safely right up to the concluding ceremony on the 14th of this month.