A book published by Harvard University students and scholars states that the 2013 Maha Kumbh in Prayag, near Allahabad, was far better organised than 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and Delhi’s 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The information was published in a 449-page book called ‘Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity’.
The book is critical of India’s bureaucratic structure but admires the effective organisation of one of world’s biggest religious events that happens every 12 years.
The book states:
“For a country notorious for its ‘lethargic’ bureaucracy, the success of Maha Kumbh is truly noteworthy.”
Illustrating the organisation of the Maha Kumbh, the book compared the religious event to the likes of FIFA World Cup 2014, which was held in Brazil, and the Commonwealth Games 2010, which was held in India’s national capital New Delhi.
It pointed out how both mega sporting events, despite having a lot more funds than the Maha Kumbh, was marred by controversies. Brazil faced a global outcry over their poor preparations for the World Cup while the 2010 CWG was marred by constant uproar over scandals and corruption charges.
The book also gave some astounding data about the 2013 event and stated that over 100 million people attended the religious gathering, which is spread over 50 days.
To gauge the sheer magnitude of the Maha Kumbh, the book noted that over 390 million calls, SMSes, etc were sent from one single place in the Mela.
In fact, the mela was so huge that it witnessed the largest use of cellphones at any single place in history.
Times of India reports:
“If one individual goes through the call detail reports (CDRs) of mobile users at the Kumbh, giving just one second per call, it would take 12 years for him to go through the text messages and calls of just one company”
The book then further elaborates that in those 50+ days, there were over 146 million (145,736,764) text messages that were exchanged at a single spot, in addition to over 245 million (245,252,102) calls.
Meanwhile, if we compare Maha Kumbh to the FIFA World Cup 2014 that was held in Brazil, a total of 5,154,386 people attended the much talked about FIFA Fan Fests according to the FIFA website. Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana attracted 937,330 fans – the highest number in any individual city.
On the match front, according to FIFA, 3,429,873 people in total attended the 64 matches, with the an average of 53,592 per match, which was highest in two decades but still nowhere close to 2013’s Kumbh Mela’s statistics.
It feels proud to know that India, too, has the capability to organise mammoth gatherings that are almost the size of a small city with far less expenditure. We wonder why then when it comes to other mega events that involves actual money, the standard and organizational skills of the country immediately drops and number of controversies and scandals enter the limelight.