Wipro's Azim Premji criticises Delhi Games spending

Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd., speaks as he presents the quarterly results at the Wipro campus in Bangalore April 20, 2007. REUTERS/Jagadeesh/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Billionaire businessman Azim Premji on Thursday questioned the amount being spent on the Delhi Commonwealth Games, saying the country could ill afford it.

“The term ‘commonwealth’ originally meant public welfare, things that are for the greater good of society. Do the Commonwealth Games pass this commonwealth test? Is this...drain on public funds for the common good?” Premji, chairman of Wipro Limited which holds one of India’s biggest software development companies, said in a front-page article in the Times of India.

The cost of the Oct. 3-14 Games, intended to showcase India’s rising global clout, has risen more than 17.5 times from the first budget estimate and the total cost is now put at $6 billion.

Premji, rated the second-richest Indian by Forbes magazine, said the country needed to spend more on education and sports infrastructure.

“To instead spend on a grand sporting spectacle sounds like we have got our priorities wrong,” added Premji.

Nearly 40 percent of India’s 1.2 billion population live on less than $1.25 a day.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email

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