We know that Varanasi is set to receive the lion's share of funds for tourism, "pilgrimage rejuvenation" and "spiritual augmentation". Now we learn that from Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook to top professionals at Google, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is broad-basing his team to turn Kashi into a national cultural hub.
The Economic Times reports: "Among those said to be working on the project is Google, apart from professionals and consultants engaged in identifying tourism hotspots in and around Varanasi, beautification, landscaping, mapping the city for better movement and security."
From traffic to pollution to unplanned development, the small town of Varanasi is besieged by a series of grave problems. Varanasi, by itself, also generates 400 MLD of sewage, with only three sewage treatment plants that handle only 102 MLD.
Needless to say, as the prime minister's Lok Sabha constituency, it was expected that the BJP government would announce a grand development scheme for the city. As expected, in its maiden budget, the Modi government announced a Rs 6,300-plus crore 'Namami Ganga' plan -- Rs 2037 crore will go into rejuvenating the river, another Rs 4200 crore will be spent on developing a navigation corridor in the next six years. Then there is a Rs 100 crore project dedicated to ghat development and waterfront beautification. The government also announced a 'NRI Ganga fund' to help drive fund collection, the money from which will be spent on 'special projects'.
A large slice of that will be channelled to Varanasi, no doubt.
But in addition, Modi has also held at least two separate meetings on his plans for his constituency. According to the ET report, Modi is reportedly keen to bring back the city's lost glory as an ancient spiritual hub. He has also coined the term 'Kashi Vision', a scheme that is expected to be launched later this month.
From clean-up drives to recalibrating traffic plans, some makeover schemes are already underway, and the report refers to plans for an auditorium, a music academy that could be a patron for Varanasi's famed musician families and more. No less than Chunnilal Mishra and Girija Devi have been suggested as "resident musicians".
Just what role Google or Facebook consultants will play in executing Modi's Kashi Vision has not been spelt out, but given his track record it's a no-brainer to guess that social media and communication strategies will form a major part of his plan.
Here is what Modi has said about his plans for Varanasi on his Twitter handle in recent months.
I will represent Varanasi in Lok Sabha & I look forward to this wonderful opportunity to serve Ganga Maa & work for Varanasi’s development.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 29, 2014
India will become a Jagat Guru when Varanasi becomes Rashtra Guru. Lets work together to create a developed Varanasi http://t.co/dhznBd29J5
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 17, 2014
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Updated Date: Aug 08, 2014 07:24:02 IST