Why Ram Mandir in Ayodhya will turn out be an economic miracle
Recently Congress lackey, goatee sporting, foreign-returned expert, Sam Pitroda made extremely irresponsible, flippant, insensitive comment that ‘Temples Don’t Create Jobs’. In light of this, I was stirred to look at Ram Mandir in Ayodhya from the perspective of economic prosperity, given the oblique reference to it. Ram Mandir is a cherished dream of hundreds of millions of Indians. Very few causes can make emotions stir in people as Ram Mandir can. As a devout Sanatan Dharmavalambi, I am no exception.
Let’s start with some numbers:
India has a population of about 130 crores with approximately 80% or 104 crore followers of Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism, as some would argue. Assuming 80% of Sanatan population is practicing Sanatani, we arrive at 83.2 crores as a population living with the dream of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and visiting it someday. Obviously, not everyone (Leftists, Maoists, Servants of “the family” especially) would be a devout Sanatani! Without getting into the complexity of an expanding population and assuming 10 years as period over which entire interested population gets to visit Ram Mandir, we arrive at annual visitor number of 83.2 MN or 8.32 crores. This shall translate into 228,000 visitors per day. In addition, festivals such as Dushera, Deepavali, Ram Navami, Vivah Panchami shall attract devotees in millions.
Given Reverence, Holiness and Emotions attached to Ram Mandir, such numbers are more than possible. Already the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, and Sabrimala attract over 2.2 crore, 2.7 crore, and 5 crore devotees per year respectively. According to BBC-Travel, Kashi Vishwanath Mandir and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam are on the 2nd and 4th number respectively, in the list of world’s most visited sacred sites.
Moreover, Ram Mandir shall be magnet not only for Indians but for devotees and tourists from across the world especially South East Asia – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – given that it is heavily influenced by Sanatan Culture.
Stacking it up economically:
On a pilgrimage to Ram Mandir, every visitor on average can be expected to spend about Rs. 1250 per day (towards food, local transportation, lodging and miscellaneous), leading to an annual spend of Rs 10,400 crores or $1.5 BN (at the current exchange rate) in Ayodhya on very conservative assumptions. Over a 10-year period this figure becomes Rs 104,000 crores or $ 15 BN. This does not include transportation to and from the city, using different means viz., bus, train, airplane, and the donations to Ram Mandir itself. Besides creating thousands of jobs in Ayodhya; trains, buses, airplanes coming into Ayodhya would lead to many more jobs in the transportation sector across the country. Tourism in the state will also address the current unemployment problem creating jobs.
To compare, Mecca earned $18.6 BN from Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages in 2014 alone. It only buttresses the assertion that estimates given above are very conservative. Similarly Vatican and Jerusalem generate Millions for local economies.
While religious tourism gives fillip to economy, even bigger gains happen in terms of development of the local area. As a shrine gains prominence, roads, railways, airports, hotels, and hospitals come up to support tourism. Let alone being economy positive, Ram Mandir shall lead to Human Development Revolution for Eastern UP and Western Bihar. It should further be seen in light of fact that Indians are returning in thousands from Middle East after imposition of taxes and tighter visa norms. It shall provide ready employment to those returning home.
Any government, driven in equal measure by Economics and Development, shall jump at the idea of Ram Mandir. This should set the agenda for present day Central and State Governments. Ayodhya is a gem in plain sight and needs to be seen as such.
While dialogue proceeds on building Ram Mandir, the Governments should start building International Airport in Ayodhya with a capacity of 10 million passengers (Rs 3000 crore), global standard railway station with a capacity to handle 30 million pilgrims (Rs 1000 crore) and bus terminal for 30 million Yatris (Rs 500 crore), arriving annually. This should be complemented with a buildup of 15-20 star hotels, with at least 5000 rooms in total (Rs 2500 crore), expressway connectivity to larger cities nearby (Rs 2000 crore), and setting up of local cooperatives for lodging, dairy production, fresh produce to cater to demand resulting from incoming pilgrims. Rs 9000 crores invested over a period of two – three years shall pay itself many times over in 10 years. In fact the government can seek Foreign Collaboration to build Ayodhya on the lines of a Smart, Religious city.
Let us commence the infrastructure development in Ayodhya now. Let us open the floodgates to millions of devotees, coming to celebrate Dushera, Deepavali, Ram Navami, Vivah Panchami in public places in Ayodhya. Let Ram Mandir Create a Million Jobs. Let it be The Economic and Human Development Miracle that It Is.