What is so special about the Queen’s Baton Relay, a virtual curtain-raiser for any Commonwealth Games and especially for the 2010 edition in Delhi this October?
Interestingly, A. K. Parida, Principal Secretary to AP Government (Y&AT), who is the Nodal Officer to ensure that the Relay is a huge success when it arrives in Hyderabad on August 14 from Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and then proceeds to Vizag, Vijayawada and Tirupati later, took pains to reveal this significance by reeling out all the details.
And, he has a special reason to be proud as the Queen’s Baton will be in Hyderabad on Independence Day and this also happens to be the 50th day of the journey in India. “I say this with a great sense of pride,” he gushed for all obvious reasons.
Champion shuttler Saina Nehwal will be the baton-bearer to lead a galaxy of international sportspersons from the State to receive it on August 14 when it arrives in Hyderabad.
The baton is actually of 66.4 cm in height, 8.6 cm width and weighs 1.9 kg with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s message, especially for all the athletes, engraved onto a miniature 18-carat gold leaf, representative of the ancient Indian ‘patras’.
There is a blend of romanticism of the past and modernism of the present when modern laser technology known as micro calligraphy has been used for the first time to reproduce the Queen’s message, which will be read out at the opening ceremony of the Delhi edition.
The designers of the Queen’s Baton included gold to “symbolise power, strength, perfection and achievement”, a representation of India’s past, present and future.
The baton has a diverse range of coloured soils collected from all the States and Union Territories of India and more importantly has light emitting diodes embedded within the baton ensure a transition into colours of a country’s flag, whilst the baton is that of country and even it has ability to capture images and sound.
The organisers can comfortably keep track of the location of the Queen’s Baton thanks to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and interestingly messages of congratulations and encouragement can be sent to the baton (featured on the Games website).
Well, when the baton, which traversed 1, 70,000 km before entering India and reaches its destination in Delhi after its journey began at Buckingham Palace in London on October 29 last year, it will achieve another first – the longest journey in the host country (100 days for 20,000 km) – twice as long as the one for 2002 Manchester and 2006 Melbourne Games.
Incidentally, the Delhi Commonwealth Games for which a strategic MoU has been signed with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will be the first ‘Green Games’ ever with emphasis on ‘green architecture’ as the plans included planting 3.5 lakh saplings.
To cap it all, India’s lone gold medallist ever in Olympics and ace shooter Abhinav Bindra will have the rare honour of being the first baton-bearer in London and then also the final one in Delhi before the opening ceremony in Delhi before handing it over back to the Queen.