Thursday, January 18, 2018
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kumbh night view

Active India extends a very, very warm welcome to millions of devout who have arrived here for the last dip of Mahakumbh on the occasion of Mahashivratri. The exodus too will begin today. So while greeting all who have graced the banks of the Sangam, would also like to wish them goodbye because after the holy dip they would undoubtedly be leaving for their homes.

They will be racing to catch the earliest train or bus. But if they have come in cars, they will have greater choice to decide the appropriate time for departure so that they have to face minimum discomfort passing through the roads. As citizens of Allahabad we were all hosts to the millions of guests who arrived in the city. With the Mela now over it is indeed time to feel relieved. There can be no doubt that the Mela came as a boon for the city. If one views it from the spiritual angle, we may say that citizens got a golden opportunity to attend various camps of different seers, some highly learned and reap the benefit of their discourses which were indeed very enlightening for the people who till then had listened to these sermons only on TV where it is usually a one-sided affair as people having queries cannot get instant answers as was to be seen in the Mela get-togethers. It was also a pleasure to see streams of people, speaking different languages, having different eating habits, all merging into one sea of humanity and joining in brotherhood at the different ‘Bhandaras’ that were organized by various people. Generosity was witnessed at its peak here. And for those who invested money to earn some extra income by spreading their commercial ventures were also not disappointed. The cottages and the luxurious Swiss cottages that sprung up  did roaring business too.  These residential facilities in the Mela itself served the valuable purpose of keeping the city free from Mela dwellers.
It was not just spiritual delight but there was also visual treat in store for visitors especially in night time when the twinkling lights installed on a very lavish scale turned the entire place into a fairy-land so to speak. Of course pickpockets, thieves, petty criminals were also there pretending to be visiting the Mela for attaining salvation but actually executing their dirty plans to make tainted hay while the sun of falsehood shone. 

Invite public comments via Internet

We also  take this opportunity to salute all those who worked strenuously, almost round the clock, to ensure that all goes well. Criticism there always will be. After all the Mela was organized on a massive scale that has no precedent.  Let us therefore not miss the positive side. We being in Allahabad have seen everything from close quarters. Hence what we have observed throughout the Mela period is very vital and the time has come to sift grain from chaff and plan out a future course of action by ensuring that we will prevent the recurrence of problems that confronted us in a big way.

 If there were hundreds of things which deserved full praise, there were some drawbacks. If in the coming weeks we highlight them it would not be out of malice or  because of criticism for the sake of criticism. Our aim would be to bring the drawbacks  and defects, whether accidental or incidental, to the notice of all concerned so that  persons sitting in top position may know the reality of the situation and thereafter chalk plans to ensure that the mistakes that were committed this time will not be repeated –whether in road-building or in granting land to seers and a horde of other issues which may deserve notice.

But this work must be done methodically and in an unbiased manner. My suggestion is that the authorities should invite from public comments which might form part of a ‘ Mahakumbh Mela Review’. This is called for. Let the book be divided into different chapters so that information received under different heads may be placed in the relevant chapter. Such a thing was not possible in the past because none had the time or the patience to note down their complaints an send them to the authorities concerned. But now the task has become very easy. What people have to do is to just e-mail their contents to the Mela authorities. What is more, the administration may put someone in charge of TV coverage of comments too. They may also look into ‘facebook’ comments, download them and place the views in the category fixed. The Mela authorities may make such a request on their website. In addition, the authorities may request Doordarshan, AIR and other TV channels to ask the public for their comments—good or bad—and suggestions for further improvement of the administrative side of the fairs. If the positive and negative sides are recorded separately, the comments would be easy to handle. The people in charge of the Kumbh Mela review must make it amply clear that politicized views will not be accepted. Only then will the review appear to be more objective and less biased. I wonder how the idea will be received by the officialdom. But they must recognize the opinion of the visitors and exclude from records the comments that may be politically inspired. If invitation is repeated on Internet daily for some days, foreign visitors would, I presume, be most happy to send their unbiased views. But let the website be manned by some neutral functionary who will not be carried away by any biased propaganda from vested interests trying to please the anti-mela lobby.

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