Lights, Camera… Caution !
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Lights, Camera… Caution !

October 17, 2020

For a few weeks now, a debate has been raging, especially between the “Cautious Mysureans” Vs the “Daft Dare Devils of Mysuru”; between “Covid Warriors” Vs “Political Warriors”, the names of these groups may sound like IPL teams, but unlike cricket which has a positive outcome, they are debating over this year’s “festive” Dasara which could have a negative outcome. 

So, do we need such a “lit-up” and festive Dasara? Doctors are especially a worried lot because they feel people are drawn to illumination like moths to a flame, and we all know what happens to the moths. They fear people will gather at illuminated Circles and this could be fatal, both for the  patient and the already wobble fragile healthcare infrastructure. But alas the lights have arrived so also colourful structures and dolls at vantage points and with that the selfie frenzy has begun. 

But many ask, don’t people need some cheer in these gloom and doom days? Yes, indeed. People need a break for this constant gloom and doom. That is why during the initial lockdown days people across the world came to their balconies to sing, play instruments etc. Now we have lights and props all across our city to cheer us up. 

In fact, in the United States and a few European nations, people have already put up Christmas lights! Yes, they have illuminated their streets and homes with decorative Christmas lights three months ahead. In 2014, a Journal of Consumer Psychology study found that the more intense the lighting, the more affected and intense the participants’ emotions were — Feelings of warmth increased when participants were exposed to bright light with hints of reddish hues. A sensation of angst increased when bluer light dominated.

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Some studies have found that light affects even how much we eat, how fast we eat, what kinds of food we’re in the mood for, and even our perception of flavour. Now Mysureans, after a high dose of Dasara Illumination, will surely head out to the chaat joints for a savoury and spicy gastronomic delight where, of course, masks come off and people will crowd.

It seems, lights can also trigger dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain, So yes, we will feel good when we watch Dasara illumination from the comforts of our car and as we move along in our bikes but people seldom want to “just see” anymore. These days they have to capture the moment and show the world they were there. This obsession to capture the moment will lead to a momentary lapse in judgement and masks will come off and social distancing will go out. That is a recipe for disaster.  

That is why a frustrated doctor, speaking against illuminating Circles in city said, “People don’t seem to realise that medical professionals are dying trying to save civilians!”  He used the word “civilian” instead of patients, because the medical professionals today, like soldiers, are dying trying to rescue civilians who are walking into Covid hotspots without mask or maintaining social distance. No wonder today in his inaugural speech Dr. C.N. Manjunath said, Medical Professionals who have died “in the line of duty” of Covid care must be declared Martyrs. Indeed, they should and should be compensated too. 

Meanwhile, we have to say, our new DC while is busy fighting Covid has some relief when it came to Dasara. We remember former DC C. Shikha was burdened with heading 39 Committees! Then it was DC Abhiram G. Sankar who had 35 Departments to run and then was made the Special Officer for 17 Dasara Sub-Committees !  

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As if all this wasn’t enough, the DC was the Coordinator between Food Committee and Hygiene Committee, then he had to flag off elephants and approve decoration for the city! At one point we thought if the Mahouts went on strike the poor DC may have to turn Mahout too! 

That is why the demand of the former Mayors of Mysuru for setting up of a Permanent Karnataka Dasara Authority on the lines of Karnataka Exhibition Authority should be considered. Of course, the ex-Mayors are surely thinking of ‘post-Mayor’ positions more than making Dasara manageable. And, of course, there is money to be “handled.” But the idea is good and the Government can always have a mix of their cronies and honest professionals. 

Dasara Authority can even outline the deliverables and outsource it to a management company. Grand festivals and sports events throughout the world are outsourced to event management companies. Why not Dasara? They can also make it more viable by coming up with a profit-sharing model instead of draining the State exchequer for Dasara.

For now, as for the illumination and procession, the Government has done what it feels is right. May be, it will bring the much needed cheer to the people. May be, people will be cautious and follow Covid guidelines. But still, let’s pray we don’t have a “dark” Diwali in November because we had a “bright” Dasara in October.

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