14-07-201914-07-2019 13:44:53 IST
2019-07-14T08:14:53.765Z14-07-2019 2019-07-14T08:14:49.476Z - - 30-03-2020
Y V Subba Reddy, the new Chairman of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD), is looking to ring in a host of changes to reform the contentious darshan system. One such is to restrict and minimize the VVIP and VIP darshan privileges so as to make Lord Venkateswara, the presiding deity of Tirumala, more accessible to the common man.
Indeed, a very pertinent thought especially in the midst of an all-pervading perception that “Lord Balaji is a God only for the rich and the elite and not for the lesser mortals.” The criticism might sound a little too harsh but the TTD’s inability under successive governments to reverse this trend has established it as a stark reality on the ground beyond anyone’s doubt.
Looking at a course-correction, Y V Subba Reddy came up with a bold suggestion, asking the VVIPs and VIPs to limit their Tirumala visits to only one time in a year. He felt that self-restraining measures like these are most-needed to avoid inconvenience to the larger sections of the devotees. He claims to bring in radical changes in the prevailing system. As part of his revamp, the TTD has already decided to do away with the multi-tiered ‘Break Darshan’. The TTD has been using this as a handy tool to ensure smooth darshan for the influential classes even on days of unprecedented rush. It also stands out as the most controversial measure as it constantly paints the TTD with a ‘snobbish’ image among the public, particularly the underprivileged sections.
The new chairman is also fixing his gaze on other privileged routes, wherein people are allowed the darshan, based on recommendation letters. All put together, the entire machinery of the Devasthanams expends a lot of resources just to ensure a hassle-free darshan for a few thousand important people while keeping tens of thousands of ordinary devotees waiting in general queues for endless hours. It takes anywhere between 6 and 8 hours for these less-privileged devotees in serpentine queues. Worse still, the nightmare can stretch into a day or two for them during the holiday season and on most auspicious days when devotees flock to the hill shrine in hordes.
On a fair note, the neglect of the larger sections of devotees has always been a bone of contention and a tricky issue to deal with for the top brass. A few attempts were made in the past by earlier dispensations to reverse this trend. But with pressures and pulls working all the time, those efforts only remained as mere statements of intent and never translated into action. Y V Subba Reddy now promises to steer clear from the earlier practices to bring in transparency and parity in every aspect of the
Devasthanams’ functioning. But how far will he be able to be different from his predecessors and walk the talk is an issue that will challenge him all through his tenure. The clarion call the new TTD chief is giving out on restricted VIP visits is a matter of self-restraint and propriety for the individuals. But he too would be well aware that he is only looking to move mountains in one go. Will he be able to withstand the enormity of pressures that come with it?
There is a feeling that instead of dilly-dallying, the TTD should actually make this into a rule and begin to implement it immediately. This way, it will be a good reality check for both the administration and the devotees to see its efficacy on the ground. The impact of the ‘once in a year VIP darshan’ rule, if implemented, may not be felt overnight but its cascading effect is expected to bring about a positive change in many areas other than darshan. The major improvements could be seen in the form of decongested roads, better flow of vehicular traffic, accommodation to all the sections with easier access and more scope for the police and official machinery to focus more on civic amenities.
To make this a reality, the TTD needs to display a steely resolve and unswerving commitment. Is Subba Reddy is really destined for a unique page in TTD’s history or his tall claims simply end up in a whimper?
Only time will tell..!
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