Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging ]
It appears that many Arunachalese consider themselves extremely lucky. That is why many Arunachalese love to indulge heavily in lotteries, housies and dice/card games.
In our state, most major festivals and major occasions are filled by numerous lottery draws and housie games. Many of these lottery tickets are priced very high, ranging from Rs 200 to 2000 per ticket. With this kind of pricing, the prizes are also mind boggling. Lottery prizes vary from SUVs like Scorpio, Duster, etc to Rs 1 crore in cash as the first prize, with many other runners-up prizes.
Similarly, a single ticket of for housie is priced, ranging between Rs 1000 to 10000. The prizes vary from JCBs to Scorpios and Royal Enfield Bullets.
Major festivals are now being competed by lotteries and housies conducted by different clans and many other organisations. Many middle class persons, government officials and contractors are given entire booklets and many are found spending lakhs of rupees on lotteries and housies every year. Sometimes there are three to five different lottery books lying in thehouse and even cars!
During many such festive events, gambling is allowed -consisting of dice games and cards. During these events, it is seen that the major attraction for many people is the gambling event. People may miss the stalls and cultural programmes but there is no lull in the gambling stalls.
However, it must be known that gambling is also a percentage game and ultimately only few make money with the stall owners/organisersreaping the actual benefits. Most people lose money in gambling. It seems that many Arunachalese consider themselves extremely lucky that gambling events and housies are always packed to capacity. It is also known that card games with stakes of lakhs of rupees are played discreetly by the high and mighty.
In Assam, it is seen that during Bihu and Durga Puja, people put up road blockades and force commuters to donate money. In Arunachal,people donate money in the form of lottery and housie in the name of clan, tribe and areas.
If we were in the age of Mahabharata, many Arunachalese would stake everything, including their Draupadis! When it would be extremely difficult to own a JCB by hard-earned money, the best short cut to owning a JCB or Scorpio is by buying a Rs 6000 housie ticket, or a lottery ticket of Rs 2000 only.
Is this craze for gambling due to excess money or is it in our characters? If the same zeal and dedication is transferred to other aspects like punctuality, sincerity and discipline, Arunachal may have been a developed state by now. (The writer is a retired Group Captain of the Indian Air Force)