Off with hoardings

Print edition : October 22, 2010

S. Suresh Kumar: The focus is on a people-oriented Dasara that is free of hassles.-V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

Interview with S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Urban Development.

AS it prepares to hold the biggest event in the State's tourist calendar, the Karnataka government's mantra is: a people-oriented Dasara. This year's festivities, which get off the ground on October 8, are marked by a number of significant changes. S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Urban Development, says these were incorporated after discussions with eminent citizens, journalists, historians and well-wishers. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:

What are the improvements proposed for this year's Dasara?

We have acted upon a number of suggestions. The focus is on a people-oriented Dasara that is free of hassles. For a start, we have decided to prohibit hoardings, which sprang up haphazardly during previous years and turned out to be eyesores. No hoarding of any politician or his followers will be allowed. The only exception to this will be photographs of the CM [Chief Minister]. I have also instructed that invitations, posters and other publicity material need not have photographs of any politician except that of the CM.

We also want to make Dasara 2010 a plastic-free affair; even the stage will be plastic free.

What about the festivities?

This year we will have two main functions on the first day. While the Dasara festivities will start from Chamundi Hills in the morning, the cultural events and the conferring of the State awards will happen in the evening. In the past, the awards function was held on the penultimate day.

With this change, we will be in a position to have two full-fledged rehearsals of the Jambu savari [elephant procession] and the Bannimantap torchlight parade. This way, people who have not been able to secure tickets for the final day will get an opportunity to witness at least the rehearsals.

What are the other changes?

I have also mooted the idea of using Dasara 2010 as an event for the Mysore Police force to enhance its image. If the Uttarakhand Police could manage a crowd of 8.5 crore people on a single day when they took a dip in the Ganga during the Kumbh Mela, why can't our police? We want the Mysore Police personnel to show their humane face; after all, the men in khaki are our ambassadors. Also, in a bid to reduce unnecessary expenditure, we have decided to do away with bouquets for felicitations. A single rose will suffice.

Are there any changes in the famous Jambu savari?

In a decision that will hearten all, especially animal rights activists, we have decided that the 750-kg howdah that the elephant carries on its back during the Jambu savari will now be placed just two hours before the procession. In recent decades, the elephant had to bear the weight of the howdah for many hours, before the procession actually began after the ceremonial salute by the CM, the police parade, and so on.

We will place the howdah on the elephant's back a few minutes before the CM pays floral tribute to goddess Chamundeshwari. By doing this we hope to drastically reduce the elephant's load.

Also, since there have been complaints that people, especially politicians of all hues, crowd around the elephant during the Jambu savari and prevent onlookers from getting a clear view of the event, it has been decided that no one except the elephant's mahout will be in close proximity to the animal during the procession.

The tableaux and cultural shows put up by various districts are often drab and repetitive.

You are right. This year we have a centralised concept for the tableaux. I had a video conference with the Deputy Commissioners and chief executive officers of all districts and have asked them to send tableaux that depict the dynasties that ruled their part of Karnataka.

I don't mind if there are fewer tableaux, but they should be of value and quality. As for cultural teams, the districts have been asked to send troupes or programmes that have a good amount of novelty.

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