ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Racketeering in the Name of Religion

The decision of the Karnataka government to subsidise “weekend” pilgrimages by the poor in the state is entirely of a piece with the spreading racketeering under the mask of religiosity in the state and, indeed, in the country. The poor, euphemistically those “below poverty line”, meaning that they are perpetually hungry, are now to be helped to go on pilgrimages to various temple towns in the state over weekends. These may not assuage their hunger, but will provide nourishment for the soul. According to a report in the Karnataka edition of The Hindu (28 May), the government would “provide travel and accommodation at subsidised rates”. Food is however not promised. The scheme is estimated to cost Rs 10 crore, clearly an underestimate if these are annual costs.

Once upon a time in a distant land, so the legend goes, the hungry when they demanded bread were advised to eat cake. Unmindful of what happened to those who made the suggestion, the poor in the Karnataka are being offered cutprice tariff for pilgrimages.

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