Interview with Tanvir Sait, State Minister in charge of Mysore district.
Since 1979, the Karnataka government has been organising the Dasara festivities. Although many feel that the absence of the royalty as the organisers robs the mega event of some of its sheen, successive governments have been trying to make it as interesting as possible. This year, the government expects more than 30 lakh visitors (including 60,000 from abroad) to descend on Mysore during the celebrations. Spearheading the government's efforts will be Labour Minister Tanvir Sait. Excerpts from an interview Tanvir Sait gave Ravi Sharma:
What is the significance of the Mysore Dasara?
The intention of the Mysore maharajas was the economic uplift of the common man. It was with this in mind that the Dasara festivities were celebrated. Even a death in the royal family did not stop the festivities. In 2002, when the Karnataka government decided not to organise the celebrations because of drought and the [forest brigand] Veerappan problem, Mysore's economic growth was stunted and the life of the common man was disrupted.
This year is the 200th anniversary of the Mysore Dasara's famous durbar. Will the celebrations be different now?
We are aware that we are in the era of globalisation and privatisation and have to see to the economic welfare of the common man, generate jobs for the youth... So this year, besides the usual cultural shows showcasing the heritage and the arts of Mysore, the Dasara celebrations will primarily focus on the government's efforts to woo new investors to come to Mysore. It will amply demonstrate my government's intention to open the doors and make Mysore investor-friendly.
Bangalore is overcrowded, reached its saturation point and [growth] has totally stagnated. We can't do anything with Bangalore. But we don't want any of the secondary cities in Karnataka to go the Bangalore way. We have to learn from the mistakes that were committed in Bangalore and improve the infrastructure in Mysore. And by infrastructure we do not mean only roads. It also means water supply, drainage system, power, an effective disaster management system, wider and well-planned roads, a pollution free zone, and so on.
But what about the cultural events, programmes...
These events can be organised by any event-management company. Dasara and Mysore are synonymous. Dasara reminds anyone of Mysore, so our intention is to use this association and showcase the city.Can Mysore cope?
Access to Mysore will improve dramatically with the completion of the four-lane highway from Bangalore. Also on the anvil is the doubling of the railway track between the two cities. The six-lane Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project is also free of litigation, and the highway via Kankapura has become a National Highway.
I am also trying to get the Oriental Pilot Training Centre and Deccan Aviation to start their flight services during Dasara.
With Hassan, Mysore, Mandya and Coorg, becoming favourite haunts of tourists, we are planning to have a dedicated tourist circuit in these districts. In a bid to facilitate faster movement of traffic on these roads, they will be opened exclusively for tourists' vehicles.
There is a view that the State Tourism Department has not done enough to promote tourism...
For this very purpose I have written to the Chief Minister recommending a Mysore Tourism Authority involving the top officers of all government departments. Currently government departments, which take care of tourism, act independently, and there is room for duplication and clash of interests. The proposed authority will help coordinate their activities and take important decisions.
Why is Srirangapatna being ignored? The Mysore Dasara is said to have started there.
There is no coordination between the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the State Archaeological Department and the State Tourism Department. So cultural activities at Srirangapatna are in a pathetic state. Last year, we organised some cultural events at the Sri Ranganatha Temple in Srirangapatna, but the ASI and its State wing denied entry to the artistes who were sent to perform there. This year, we have cancelled all cultural events at Srirangapatna.