Oct 10, 2011
Bernie Ecclestone is going to bring his Formula 1 extravaganza to the outskirts of Delhi, India, on Halloween weekend, and the local farmers will be able to buy a ticket to watch Lewis Hamilton go through another meltdown. But instead of stepping up to buy tickets, all that those Indians are doing is worrying about little things like food, shelter and their livelihoods. It seems that the locals are not satisfied with the way the land on which the Buddh International Circuit was acquired and constructed. Many of them feel used and fearful that they won’t be able to make a living now that some of their farmland has been turned into an international speedway, which is just what an agrarian economy needs. So they are threatening to disrupt the upcoming race weekend in an effort to get their grievances heard.
“We are not against the race, but we feel we have been short-changed,” Virender Dhada, a farmer and spokesman, told the AFP news agency. “We will stage protest marches and sit-ins next to the track starting October 23rd to ensure our voice is heard. We are only demanding what is our right. The authorities have been turning a deaf ear to our legitimate demands.”
What the farmers’ demands are -- and how legitimate they are -- is unclear. And the race organizers’ response to the possible security threat are equally unclear, except that a spokesperson said, “There is so much riding on the race for the company and the country, do you think we will allow a handful of farmers to spoil it?”
Hmmmm. They must not have heard about political correctness in India. But they are painfully well aware of security issues. India has been the target of terrorist bombs in recent months, but that is far beyond what the local farmers have threatened, although it is obvious that they are angry about the new track. Rather than negotiate with the farmers, however, it looks as if the race organizers, Jaypee Sports, will simply beef up security and call it a day.
“We have spent $400 million on the race, and we will spend a few million more if needed to have adequate security in place,” says an unnamed Jaypee Sports executive. “We will do whatever it takes to have a wonderful event.”
One imagines the local farmers, living hand-to-mouth in the region, might like to have a taste of a portion of that 400 million bucks. But maybe it’s cheaper for the organizers to hire armed security forces to keep out the locals. Gentlemen, start your engines!
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