FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Why religion and building temples is a profitable business in?India
Posted:May 25, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Mohan Guruswamy 
 
Last year, the number of foreign tourists who came to India was about 90 million. By contrast, domestic tourism totaled over 1,400 million visits; clearly suggesting that its implied economics are far bigger than the foreign business. It also suggests that very many of our people make several trips for tourism every year. While the concentration of the central government’s tourism promotion efforts focus on the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur “golden triangle” the highest number of foreign tourist arrivals (20.1%) are in Tamil Nadu. Delhi draws half that. The southern states see the most foreign and domestic tourist traffic because of the number of important religious places like Madurai. The location of Tirupati within it makes Andhra Pradesh India’s biggest domestic tourist destination. Religious tourism is now very big business. What does this suggest?
 
The Pew Global Attitude survey study shows that more than 25% of Indians reported having become more religious over the past four-five years. The trend is valid across religions and in keeping with other attitudinal surveys. Between 2007 and 2015, the share of respondents in India who perceived religion to be very important increased by 11% to 80% now. The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report shows that average expenditure on religious trips has more than doubled during this period. Clearly this is a rapidly expanding business sector and given the trends, the sky is the limit.
 
While the economic activity and the employment it generates are a cause for happiness all around, we must also ponder about the other ramifications of this growing religiosity. The growth of blind faith, superstition and aggressive religioneering present a clear and present danger to India evolving as a modernising society which values reason and tempers collective behaviour. The building of temples is a profitable business. That’s why public spaces are increasingly usurped by unscrupulous entrepreneurs to build shrines. And we know from experience that once gods and religious figures get installed in a place, they cannot be dislodged.
 
With religiosity and religioneering big business now, it is increasingly common to see governments promoting “religious tourism.”
 
Actually there is increasingly an unstated and subtle competition now implying that my idol is better than yours. The Venkateshwara temple at Tirumala is India’s biggest money-spinner. This Vaishnavite shrine attracts 40 million devotees each year. Telangana has now embarked on promoting the Yadagirigutta temple near Hyderabad to become a religious tourism draw. Under the CPM government, Kerala temple boards actually advertise the magical powers of their stone idols. Communism was supposed to make us rational and believe God was a figment of mankind’s imagination.
 
Jawaharlal Nehru wanted the new India to be guided by reason and infused with the scientific temper. Instead we are now increasingly a people driven by dogma and blind faith. Religion and blind faith are our biggest faultlines and the cause of much social friction and breakdown of orderly public behaviour and order.
 
To make a point, Nehru never visited religious places lest it be seen as an endorsement. We now increasingly see our constitutional authorities and prominent personalities making highly-publicised visits to places of faith but also of unreason. We have seen our leaders make extravagant offerings to deities as part of fulfilling a promise that they would do so if elected. Most politicians have favourite places of worship. To stretch the point, even the flourishing business of godmen and women are growing. After his recent death, many commentators wrote of Chandraswami as a self-styled conduit between god and ordinary people. So instead of discouraging blind faith, our politicians encourage it in many ways. The late Sai Baba had a devout following among the political class.
 
It is not my point that religious tourism is in itself a bad thing, in fact it is good for the economy. My grouse is with the often regressive values associated with religion which is not the same as true faith and spirituality. Religious shrines across the world are a big draw, and India is no different. Politicians are well within their right to worship their gods, but not at the expense of the taxpayer. Unless they consider this to be a part of business promotion.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
  Nearly 58 per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.
 
read-more
A unique and passionate gathering of acrophiles, or mountain lovers, took place in neat and picturesque Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state in north-eastern India in September.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
With over 100 incidents of braid chopping reported in different parts of Kashmir, there is widespread fear and anger among the people.
 
read-more
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of 0.2 percent above that of the corresponding period of last year.
 
read-more
As political roller coasters go, there is none as steep and unpredictable as the one shared by the United States and Iran.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive