Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
A phenomenon currently gripping our state is the preponderance of lotteries, housies and calendars. Many festivals, clan celebrations/gatherings, and institution anniversary celebrations are resorting to lotteries, housies and calendars to generate funds.
There are so many clans – father’s clan, mother’s clan, wife’s clan, wife’s father’s clan, wife’s mother’s clan, own tribe, wife’s tribe, own town, own colony, alumni association, etc. Then there are festivals and ‘mega festivals’. Each of these events is marked by celebrations of various types spread over a few days. These celebrations include community feasts, cultural programmes, games and sports, etc. Many of these events include celebrity nights and fashion shows. The celebrity nights include invitation to Bollywood stars. Many of these Bollywood stars demand fees in tens of lakhs of rupees, excluding travel and accommodation expenses, for their support teams consisting of many members. In fact, any festival or celebration is not worth it if there are no celebrities or fashion shows!
With the expenditures running into lakhs and crores of rupees, resource mobilization is a critical factor for the success of any major festival or celebration.
For many festivals or celebrations, most funds are generated from government sources. However, a major portion of the funds is required to be generated by resource mobilization teams. The easiest way to generate funds is by conducting lotteries and housies. The lottery tickets cost anywhere from Rs 200 to Rs 2000 per ticket, and the price of housie tickets varies from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000.
With these kinds of ticket prices, the top prizes vary from new Scorpio vehicles and new Duster vehicles to Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles. Of course, more than half of the generated money is retained in the corpus funds to conduct these festivals or celebrations.
These lotteries and housies have become a burden on government employees, particularly those in the middle and upper income groups. Many citizens are given the responsibility to sell off entire lottery books, going into many thousands of rupees. It is estimated that many households are dealing with lotteries and housies worth lakhs of rupees annually. This is despite the fact that there is an existing government order banning gambling in all forms and housies.
A rough estimate reveals expenditures of multiple crores of rupees on festivals and celebrations only. If the government and the communities use these huge funds for developmental activities, our communities and the state would have progressed a bit.
We have huge funds for festivals, celebrations, clan festivals, and so on. However, we have little fund for social projects, industrial projects, education, health, etc, and our state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Should we carry on donating huge amounts to so many festivals, celebrations and clan festivals?
(The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)