The Kumbh Mela At Nasik

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The Kumbh Mela At Nasik

Maha Kumbh 2013 was far better organised than Fifa World Cup in Brazil and Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, says a book on world’s biggest religious congregation, produced by scholars and students of Harvard University along with architects and town planners of international repute.

The 449-page book ‘Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity’, goes on to add: “For a country notorious for its ‘lethargic’ bureaucracy, the success of Maha Kumbh is truly noteworthy.” If there was a national outcry and uproar over the poor preparations for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, the 2010 CW Games were marred by scandals and corruption, despite the fact in the two events there were much more funds and involvement of the federal/central governments, it says.

The way a tent township — much larger than the size of Manhattan in terms of population – pops up in a very short time-frame is an example and a project for planners, urban bodies and policy researchers. How more than 100 million come to a small place, stay there for 55 days, apart from a daily cycle of a crowd of nearly five million bathing at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, meet each other, pray, join their gurus, camp with sadhus and ascetics and safely return to their native places are the things worth studying.

This is how the researchers of the South Asia Institute of the Harvard University, US, have viewed the successful management of Maha Kumbh 2013 in their book which was launched by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday. The book, divided into half a dozen chapters, has been edited by renowned architect Rahul Mehrotra and Felipe Vera with texts from Diana L Eck, Tarun Khanna, Jennifer Leaning and John Macomber. In fact, Harvard University had assigned the study as a project called “Mapping the Kumbh Mela” to its students and researchers.

Talking of the sheer magnitude of the Mela, the book says that with 390 million communication events (calls, messages, etc) it saw largest use of cellphones at one place. If one individual goes through the call detail reports (CDRs) of mobile users at the Kumbh, giving just one second per call, it would take 12 years for him to go through the text messages and calls of just one company, the books says. Over 50 days, there were 146 million (145,736,764) text messages exchanged and 245 million (245,252,102) calls made.

At one point, the book mentions barring a few countries hardly any country matches its aspirations with the capability. “So is India, which has high ambition to provide everyone everything from farmers to migrants to factory worker. Its ambitions are very high but capability very low, and then it generates disappointment. But the Maha Kumbh management and success belies this notion,” it says.

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