It is that time of the year again, when it is time to pray for rains again. Earlier this month our State Government ordered prominent temples under the Muzrai Department, which are ‘financially sound,’ to perform special pujas on June 6 to invoke the Rain Gods. The cost? Rs. 10,000 per puja to be taken from the devotees’ offering. This money would have otherwise gone to the State exchequer.
To begin with, devotees donated to the Gods thanking them for their blessings, now we are taking Gods’ money and giving it back to them seeking another blessing? In short, instead of forcing the public to recycle water, the Government is recycling Gods’ money to appease the Gods! We are not surprised, after all politicians are good at this, don’t they use tax-payers’ money to bribe tax-payers, to buy their votes?!
In our State already 156 of 176 taluks have been declared drought-stricken. Around 3,000 villages in the State are sourcing drinking water from private tankers. Meanwhile, about 450 financially sound temples have spent Rs.10,000 on pujas, that is about Rs. 45 lakh! Wouldn’t it have been more prudent if the Muzrai Department used this money to fund drinking water for these villages? The only saving grace is that it is not as bad as what former Muzrai Minister Kota Srinivas Poojari did in 2012.
In an announcement that was a slap on all tax-payers, the Minister decided to give Rs. 5,000 each to 34,000 temples coming under his Department across the State to perform the puja. This cost the State exchequer over Rs. 17 crore. The Minister said that it was “Purely a spiritual event to invoke divine forces.” He conveniently mixed up spirituality with religion.
If prayer is the answer, then why must only temples perform pujas and prayers? Why not the Government pay money to Mosques and Churches? They too can perform a special prayer asking the Gods to rain upon us. After all, in the Bible didn’t Elijah pray for rain, and does it not say, “Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit”? The Muslims too have the Salat-ul-Istisqa; a prayer specifically meant to bring rains. So let us increase the chances of rain by paying all these religious centres.
When a nation is too religious, instead of finding long-term solutions and electing visionary leaders, it resorts to praying. And we are not alone in this.
In 2017, Sheikh Zayed, President of the UAE, had called for a prayer for rains to be performed in all Mosques throughout the country at 11.30 am on Friday.
In the United States, the Governor of the overtly Christian State of Texas signed a proclamation declaring April 22 to 24, 2011 the “Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas.” The prayer didn’t work. There was no rain for another 4 months !
Yes, one needs faith, but you can’t leave your fate in the hands of faith alone. As it is said, “God helps those who help themselves.”
This reminds me of the Israelis. Yes, they pray for rains too, but they found scientific solutions also. Their Prophet, Moses, had warned them that the land he is taking them to was, “Unlike the decadent fleshpots of Egypt with its fertile flatlands lushly irrigated by the Nile, the land given by God is hilly and without great rivers to provide it with water.”
So Israelis did not just pray, they invented drip irrigation. They started growing crops that required less water but were just as nutritious. They recycled their water (80% of waste water generated in Israel is reused). They invented desalination plants to make seawater potable. And today, while Israel continues to pray for rains as a matter of faith, they also have surplus water, thanks to technology.
In fact, they not only export water to their neighbouring nations but make about 4 billion dollars a year selling water technology to other nations ! Yes, they have faith, but they also understand that God helps those who help themselves.
What have we done? Just day before yesterday, our Water Resources Minister speaking to reporters said, “As a precautionary measure, the Government is organising puja. We prayed in the wee hours after taking blessings from the pontiff of Sringeri Mutt.”
How we wish they worked till the wee hours finding scientific solutions to the perennial water problem. How we wish they pushed for compulsory rain-water harvesting (it is said that even if a mere 20% practiced it, Karnataka will have enough water). How we wish they fixed water-loss during distribution (Bengaluru alone loses over 45% water during distribution in the form of broken pipes, illegal water connections and water tanker mafia!)
How we wish instead of praying at Talacauvery, they protected the trees in Kodagu from timber smugglers and sand mafia. How we wish they set rules for water re-usage; force people to have separate lines for reusable sink water and bath water. How we wish they rejuvenated Lakes and stopped land mafia from filling them up to sell as sites. Sadly, there is no serious attempt being made by the Government to do any of these.
Worse, they are not even inclined to find a scientific solution that is guaranteed to give results, but a great deal of time and money is being spent on praying that does not guarantee a result. Unfortunately, the public also does not care to save water.
For now, may be the Government thinks that smoke from the havan will induce the clouds to shed their water weight? Yes, the State is parched and dry but looks like our Government is also parched of intellect, a sense of service and vision. And we urban residents too have lost the fear of ‘scarcity.’
If puja is the answer, then may be it is time they give some funds to the Department of Administrative Reforms to perform Saraswathi Puja to give some buddhi to our leaders and babus. And may be even us, the public, to do our own bit to save water without being forced to by the Government.
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