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Time for God to step in

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With his children in distress, I don’t think God would be willing to sit on Gold seats and laden with gold from head to toe.

The world is currently engulfed in the perilous flames of COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries are struggling in their attempts to overcome this menace while some have been successful in controlling it. Indian government has been quick in its response and decided to lockdown the country with an iron hand. The country is locked down till 3rd May, 2020 and counting. Various decisions have been taken by the government which requires the government to roll out crores and crores of rupees. This is going to drag the already crawling Indian economy to its knees. Before the outbreak, the Indian economy was not in good shape. Industrial output was sloping with GDP figures growing at a record low pace. With the pandemic hitting us hard, the production has come to a still, except for the essentials, and there has been widespread loss in income for various income groups

The direct tax and indirect tax revenue collection have missed their target and are at 8% and 4% decline from the previous year’s collection respectively. The deadlines have been extended and government has rolled out various subsistence schemes ranging from public distribution of ration to direct money transfers to the bank accounts. The most vulnerable section is the informal sector which lives in a hand to mouth condition. Suggestions have been coming for tax reliefs to people and enterprises to help them revive post the pandemic. With already the burden of a sloping economy, Indian government has to strain the union purse to meet the ends. But what if the government gets its hand on the hidden treasure of lakhs and crores of rupees. What if the God, on whom the majority of Indians believe, steps in and bears the burden to save his devotees. Yes it is high time that purveyors of God jump in to buttress the staggering Indian community.

Indian temples are a store house of enormous wealth. Temples are the beacon of hope for devotees who visit them. With each wish comes an offering to the deity which adds to the wealth of the temple. The people of India, being highly religious, go in huge numbers to the temples across India and pay offerings in huge amount. Temples are store houses of gold and silver which have been donated by the devotees, most of the time anonymously.

Currently, to prevent gathering, temples in India have been temporarily closed. Some pilgrimages like Badrinath, Kedarnath etc are opened seasonally which attracts lakhs of people. This season is the only source of income for people having shops near the temple vicinity. Due to this closure, the only source of their income is unwillingly snatched away. The temples also gets money with the inflow of devotees. If the pandemic keeps on spreading at the current rate, it will create great havoc in India. Major population of India is poor with no facility for social distancing. If the virus gets spread in these areas, death toll will increase with uncontrollable folds.

What the temples can do

The immense wealth which rests in the store houses of these temples is of no use to God. These temples are managed by trusts which looks after the maintenance of the temple. The amount which would be employed for maintenance would be minuscule in comparison to the annual offering being made to these temples. As per an India Today article, Padmanabhaswamy temple of Kerala has a wealth of around 20 Billion dollars which amounts to around 1.53 lakh crore rupees. This is just the figures of one such famous temples which attracts lakhs of people each year. Temples like Tirumala Tirupati Venkateshwara Temple in Andhra Pradesh make 75 crore rupees just by selling laddoos. According to a report which was prepared on the directions of the Supreme Court to audit the religious and charitable institutions, there are 20 lakh major temples in India. Just imagine the amount of wealth these temples would be holding when the aforementioned temples are a mammoth of reserves.

Macro-level

God exists because we believe in him. These temples have acquired such enormous wealth due to the faith of people who pay visit to these temples. If there will be no devotee to pay visit, these temples will lose their relevance. Who will visit the temple when they would not have money to eat, when they would not have resources to cater to the basic needs?

In my opinion it is the time that the warehouses of these temples be opened and help the people with a generous heart. It is time that the wealth accumulated due to the offerings of the people be used for their welfare itself. India needs money and it has enough but the problem is of the access. Under Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India, freedom of religion and managing of religious affairs is enshrined. Therefore, the government cannot legally usurp or bring into use this wealth. However, the trusts who manage the temples can come forward to ameliorate the economic plight of the economy as well as the needy. This wealth can be donated helping the already strained economy.

Micro-level

We find temples in every locality in India. These are the local temples which are very frequently visited by the people and also have handsome amount of deposits. The initiative which these temples can take is providing food to the needy classes in their locality at their expenses. I know all the temples would not have adequate necessary resources at their disposal but they can at least aid to the welfare work under taken by the government.

The problem which we are currently facing is a nationwide problem and hence we need to act collectively to fight it. Not only temples, but the other religious institutions of other religions can also take the initiate on their own. The countrymen are in distress and question themselves each day whether they would die out of COVID-19 or hunger. With his children in distress, I don’t think God would be willing to sit on Gold seats and laden with gold from head to toe.

Views expressed are personal and do not intend to hurt the sentiments of any religious group.

The author is a 1st year student at National Law School of India University, Bangalore.

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