A better darshan of Lord Balaji
Recently TTD was in the news for two decisions taken by the board. One was to scrap the L1, L2 Darshan system...
Recently TTD was in the news for two decisions taken by the board. One was to scrap the L1, L2 Darshan system and the second was to arrange privileged Darshan for those who contribute to the Srivani Trust through which they want to take up construction of temples to propagate Hindu dharma.
This time the board itself is jumbo in nature with increased strength and also induction of members without voting rights. Given the fact that each member would demand and get a certain quota of privileged Darshan tickets to be issued, this is going to create an immense strain on the time to be allotted for VIP Darshan, ultimately affecting the time available for common pilgrims.
We had earlier cases of board members opening camp offices at Tirumala and selling for a price the quota tickets allotted to them. Vigilance cases were also booked against these members in this regard. This new Srivani Trust scheme comes on top of that.
The system of L1, L2 Darshan was introduced by the then JEO Tirumala when I was the EO towards the end of my tenure and since I was not willing to approve the decision, it was subsequently got ratified by the board after I left.
As the system works, JEO Tirumala is far more powerful than the EO and there were cases when they got the EO shifted at a short notice when the JEO did not like the EO. In principle, L1, L2 system was workable since it distinguishes between the VIPs and the recommendations of the VIPs.
VIPs are supposed to be classified as L1 given a better Darshan for a longer period whereas the recommendations are treated under L2 category and sent out quickly. But in practice, anybody with a proper recommendation got an L1 and the pressures on the administration shifted to categorising those eligible for L2 as L1.
Administration naturally enjoys such patronage which increases their sphere of influence. This categorisation also led to indiscriminate issue of VIP passes lengthening time taken for VIP Darshan to the disadvantage of common pilgrims. Hence scrapping this artificial distinction which was never implemented properly was a welcome decision of the TTD Board.
The other decision was about privileged Darshan for those who contribute to the Srivani Trust. Donations to this trust are to be utilised for construction of temples in areas where adherence to Hindu dharma is not strong. Here the problem is not dearth of funds but dedicated cadre to work and take the programme to the nooks and corners of the State and at a later date beyond.
Allocations made from the TTD budget are never spent in full for this purpose and engineering procedures of measurements and check measurements will ensure the temple construction will never take off. It was only the pioneering work of Samarasata Sewa Foundation which ensured not only these temples come up in those areas but are also properly maintained and run.
Unfortunately, during the TDP regime, on some technical grounds, support to this organisation was withdrawn both by the TTD and the Endowment Department. If the TTD is sincere in its agenda of propagating Hindu dharma, it should actively work in cooperation with the above organisation in a complementary manner.
Problem in constructing temples and spreading Hindu dharma is not so much of funds but absence of a dedicated team to work which is something not available with the TTD. Hence this Srivani Trust donations and linked VIP darshan would only add to the woes of common pilgrims without achieving the purpose for which those donations are meant.
Any increase in VIP darshan time is going to adversely affect the time available for the common pilgrim whether it comes in the form of recommendations or by donation. In any case there are other trusts contributions which entail the donor privileged Darshan facility once in a year. There definitely is no need for one more scheme where people can pay and get VIP Darshan on a daily basis.
(To be continued)
(Writer is former Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh)