A service that every Mysurean should extend
By Ashvini Ranjan
Brace yourself, Dasara is here! Probably two million visitors will visit the city and on a conservative estimate, a lakh of motor vehicles will enter the city. It is anybody’s guess that the city will choke and the Traffic Police will be at their wits end to manage the numbers. Security too will be a big concern. However good and efficient the administration may be, one cannot expect them to perform miracles with limited resources and at the last minute. We have woken up very late like always and sadly people who visit the city to enjoy the festivities will experience hardship and inconvenience. Mysuru Dasara is a unique event and has the potential to bring windfall gains to business and the tourism industry in particular. But we seem not to have the vision to encash the opportunity since long.
I do note the efforts made by V. Somanna, our District in-charge Minister and also in charge of Dasara-2019 festivities. With the festivities only about a week away, there is little that one can do. However, every Mysurean is duty-bound to extend all support in any manner possible to express our solidarity and a sense of belonging. Most of the suggestions I make here in response to our Minister’s call were made nine years ago.
During 2010, Shobha Karandlaje, the then District Minister and in charge of Dasara celebrations, had made a similar call to people of Mysuru to make suggestions to add value to the event. Though there is no evidence of the Minister having taken note of, I am repeating most as they seem relevant even to this day.
1. Besides the number of people visiting the city, it is the motor vehicles that will pose the biggest challenge. There is no space on the city’s roads to accommodate the increased traffic. To help ease the flow of traffic and the pressure on parking in the city centre where most of the city’s attractions are situated, shop-keepers and business houses should not occupy the space in front of their business establishments with their own private vehicles.
2. Mysureans travelling into the city centre should use either public transport or taxi services during the ten-day period to ease parking.
3. Make available any private open site in the Central Business District for parking of vehicles.
4. Hotels, taxi / auto services not to overcharge visitors.
5. Individuals to clear any building debris and garbage both in front of their homes and business places.
6. Decorate homes and business establishments to look cheerful and appropriate to the festive season.
7. Enlist members of various service organisations such as the Rotary, Lions and Round Table to provide tourist information over phone to visitors.
8. Doctors Associations to provide medical assistance in case of emergencies.
As part of my long-term suggestions, my letter to Shobha Karandlaje included the need to look at Dasara as an ongoing event. Given the enormous commercial potential that Dasara holds for the city, set up a Permanent Dasara Authority/Office to function throughout the year to plan various events. To use the services of experts to improve the infrastructure and complete projects pending. The suggestion I believe is still relevant.
The Royal Family of Mysore is an integral part of Dasara celebrations. Their presence and participation in the festivities lends authenticity to the events. Let us not forget, the Monarchy of England is still the biggest tourist attraction. The private ceremonies of the Mysore Royal Family such as the Khas Durbar could be on a bigger scale and the State should sponsor it. Participation of Yaduveer Wadiyar, the scion of Royal family in the Dasara procession, will enhance the dignity of the event. Besides the foregoing, the 400-year-old history of the Wadiyar rule could also offer many possibilities to portray different periods, events, customs and weapons. There may be records of such information in the Palace archives. Their wholehearted participation is most essential.
To improve the knowledge of the history of Mysuru, Tourist Guides should undergo periodic refresher course. This will add value to the visitor experience. Tourist information kiosks and literature should be made available at vantage points including hotels. The University of Mysore should also consider offering a short-term diploma course to all those interested.
The NCC cadets could offer their services in crowd management with a little bit of prior training. Regarding the traffic issues and parking space shortages, it may also be a good idea to enlist the services of today’s taxi aggregator services such as the Olas and Ubers to reduce the load on parking space. A pre-determined tariff will eliminate the probability of overcharging. In the absence of a robust public transport system in Mysuru, this may be a viable alternative.
Efforts to improve Mysuru Dasara celebrations should be a work in progress and no matter which government is in power, the work should go on without interruption. We hope Minister Somanna will ensure that Dasara will not be subject to the vagaries of politics and Mysuru will once again emerge as the pride of the country.