- COVID19 Pandemic has brought to the fore a mammoth issues on the socio-economic front which has never been seen before.
- Indian history is rich with illustrations about religious places having always coming to the aid of its people during such situation of catastrophe.
- This calls for out of box solutions and each and every one contributing their bit to tied over this crisis physically, financially and by imbibing a disciplinary lifestyle. This could be easily undertaken by these religious institutions as its followers have faithful and fervent belief in them.
- India being a spiritual country with beliefs of diverse nature, the religious and Spiritual institutions can play a major role in overcoming this unusual and unprecedented situation both in the short and long term. They can
- Provide food, shelter, education and employment of the poor people who have suddenly not only lost their jobs but also homes
- There can be voluntary contributions for this purpose by the followers of these religious places which could be used for the above.
- These religious institutions also generally have huge disciplined followers whose services can be called for in these situation
- Being owner of huge land, donations and precious metals they could have a long term plan of deploying some portions of it for such situations by getting associating and building with healthcare centers, skill development and shelter.
- This would naturally ease the burden on the government and this kind of philanthropy work would add to the stature of the place and increase the followers too.
- The concept of secured governance calls self-sustained growth mechanism. Value and valuation will be playing a key role to sustain the regular revenue to make it an ongoing activity in these religious institutions.
The devastating novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has spread across the globe and put local, national and international health systems under tremendous strain. Almost 5.32 million people are infected and 340,324 people have died. Many countries have been cut off from one another, their economies shattered. Several organisations and individuals are currently engaged in finding a vaccine for the disease. While governments, scientific bodies and health institutions are relentlessly fighting the pandemic, the role of religious institutions and spiritual is to be seen through the prism of the important role it plays in the lives of the people In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Religious places can be a valuable resource from a public health perspective. This article deciphers as to how worship places could contribute in development of social sector and national growth in a sustainable way through Secured Governance. Our country is a spiritual country with a diversity of religion and cultures. In ancient India there have been historical details as to how these religious places took care of the down trodden, specially abled and the destitute from all walks of life. During distress they could visit these places and they were treated freely and provided with every kind of help.
ROLE OF RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL CENTERS
Historically religion has been involved in the welfare of the community Various examples of the same has been found in our history where temples have played an evolutionary role in taking care of the down trodden. One such was in the inner wall of temple Venkateshwar at Tirumakudal in the district of Chingelpu during the Chola period which gave details and description about a hospital and a hostel for the students. Many Monasteries in ancient times were attached to hospitals which provided most of the healthcare to the poor, God and healing have always worked in tandem in ancient India as the physicians treating people have been associated as god sent person due to his healing capacity. This ability of these religious places to deliver health care services that meet the cultural, social, and religious needs of patients and their families has been well documented in our history. Religious places can work to change the systems that make health care accessible for the most vulnerable populations.
Religious places play a critical role in providing spiritual services and can provide social, educational and emotional strength to the communities. The local temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues could play a very important role in building a resilient society to combat the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. All these premises including religious schools, seminaries and colleges can be used as quarantine or clinical centres. According to a study, 85% of the world’s population has faith in religion and in many cases; religion occupies a central place in their lives. It is a significant component to strengthen the psychological resilience of the individual and community in the face of a crisis. It encourages people to assist the sick, the poor, orphans, oppressed or those who are affected by disasters. It is observed as to how the religious communities along with public health initiatives helped to fight the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Religious organisations have been at the forefront to alleviate human suffering in both, natural or human-induced disasters.
In the present crisis,
- Forging a collaboration of religious institutions with the public health system and other activities can lead to many improvements in addressing emergencies at the national, regional and local levels. The religious leaders / preachers of all local communities are often more trusted locally and have a higher outreach to people. The local faith leaders could be considered key actors in building innovative initiatives and the development of a community-based disaster management system.
- All these premises including religious schools, seminaries and colleges can be used as quarantine or clinical centres.
- They can play a crucial role in executing and distributing essentials materials supplied by the government or various organisations among the needy in society. Across India, millions of people are suffering from hunger and starvation due to the nationwide lockdown. In such a situation, faith leaders can immediately reach out to the affected, with sufficient solutions. All religious leaders and faith-based organisations need to build solidarity and take steps to educate their communities about the disease and lifestyle changes.
The spiritual centers can be positioned to help their communities during this pandemic of this nature. There are huge number of worship places all over India that includes Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras, Churches and Monasteries etc. Whenever people visit these places, it’s a very common practice to donate some amount to the worship place and the priest for conducting religious ceremonies. During such pandemic situation request for more donations to help people in distress is easily achievable.
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- Nation of worshippers::
India has one place of worship for every 400 people, more than the countrywide spread of educational and medical institutions put together. In the 10-year-period between 2001 and 2011, places of worship mushroomed at a faster rate (26%) than hospitals (13%) and factories (13%). Frequent worshippers
There is little doubt that a lot of Indians like to visit places of worship — daily, weekly and on festivals. Religious visits were also the second most popular reason for travel after social visits (the last year NSSO compiled data in this form).
Worship Places for Every 1,000 Occupied Houses
There are around 4.0 million worship places all over India that includes Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras, Churches and Monasteries etc. India is a “Land of Faith”. People in India donate huge amount of money at these worship places and other religious institutions for many reasons. According to data available 13 temples in India had a total income INR. 5,200 crores during last year alone. There are around 5 lakh acres of land owned by these temples. After their spend on the maintenance and the temple services, they can very well contribute to non-religious services, such as education, skill development and healthcare services.
- Social services like shelter, food, education, healthcare and skill development can be undertaken by worship places.
- Prime religious destination like Temple, Church Mosque etc. and other worship places can be developed into a Tourism HUB which will enhance the growth of the place and encourage local and regional entrepreneurs and provide employment
- Wealth of many worship places can assist in setting up required infrastructure especially for the health care sector and thereby even contributing to industrial and national growth.
Worship places and spiritual centres are involved in, during times of crisis, they are at the forefront of making donations to institutions in order to combat the crisis. In the wake of the crisis, numerous religious places across the country have come forward to contribute generously, both in terms of food and welfare, to help the country. Despite, there are numerous small worship places also contributing to the battle against the pandemic in their own way. There are some temples listed below have donated for Corona Relief:
The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi (Ahmednagar), donated INR. 51 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in Maharashtra. In addition, the SSST is providing free food to all patients and their relatives at the Shri Sainath Hospital, Shirdi Orphanages, old age homes, a school for deaf and dumb, destitute and needy, police personnel and others through the Shri Sai Prasadalaya.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) board has decided to offer INR. 19 crore to the Andhra Pradesh’s government relief coronavirus fund;
Shri Mata Mansi Devi temple in Panchkula in Haryana donated INR. 10 crore to the Haryana Corona relief fund.
Guruvayoor Devaswom donating a INR. 5 crore for COVID-19 relief;
Jagannath Temple Administration, Puri donated INR. 1.51 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus in Odisha. In addition, 62 temples in the state have donated INR. 1.37 crore to the CMRF to date.
The Devasthan Management Committee, Kolhapur, donated INR.2 crore through the famed Mahalaxmi Temple
The Mahavir Mandir Trust in Patna has donated INR. One crore to the CM Relief Fund for fighting Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
Shri Somnath Trust has contributed INR. One crore to the Gujarat Chief Minister’s relief fund.
Ambaji Mandir has donated INR. One crore & one lakh to the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Relief Fund;
The Kanchi Muth has donated INR. 10 lakhs each to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Relief Fund;
The Mahamaya Mandir Trust in Chhattisgarh has donated INR. 511,000 to the Chief Minister’s relief fund. Furthermore, the Trust has also contributed a sum of INR. 111,000 to the Red Cross Society in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis
RELIGIOUS CENTRES AND NATIONAL GROWTH
Secured Governance for religious places is a strategy that relates to the relationship between worship places and development to other social sectors like education, healthcare along with various private institutions as partners and Government as governing body can foster coordination and create a social development and increase employability of local population and develops the cluster as a whole through regional strategies, technology and interdependency. Selecting existing major religious destination like Religious places (Temple, Church Mosque etc. other temples) and Developing that as a Tourism HUB.
There are around 5,000 major worship places in India that can be developed as a HUB and associate in development of social sectors like education, healthcare. Schools, colleges, hospitals and skill training centres will be managed by these worship places themselves. Many of these worship places in India can be made into a mini HUBs. These mini HUBs will provide huge employment opportunities and create in terms of social changes in the lives of local people, improvements in infrastructure, lifestyle changes etc.
Keeping in mind and respecting the wishes of the people who donate to these temples and with their concurrence the huge scale of gold and money in the vault of these religious institutions could do well to spend on philanthropic efforts for people in this pandemic period. These worship places should come out a plan to help the needy. Worship places are mostly at the prime locations of the city. They have the potential to reach the most marginalized and excluded groups of society. They could offer responsiveness and speed in terms of providing community services and engaging people. Development plans should promote development that creates socially inclusive communities, including suitable mixes of housing. Plan policies should:
- Ensure that the impact of development on the social fabric of communities is considered and taken into account;
- Seek to reduce social inequalities;
- Address accessibility for all needy people of the community to health, housing, education, skill development, jobs, sports training and community facilities;
- Take into account the needs of all the community, including particular requirements relating to old age senior citizens, orphans, disability or handicapped persons and economically weaker people.
Improved infrastructure around the religious premises will facilitate the devotees to undertake numerous rituals in easy and friendly manners, it will definitely enhance the revenue generation enormously from the devotees from throughout the world. The part of the revenue will be spent in developing a religious hub in the region along with establishing integrated education, healthcare and skill development with proper sectorial distribution, administrating and managing them and finally monitoring their effectiveness. The religious hub will help local people to get easy access to basic as well as quality social infrastructures in terms of education, healthcare that will bring social stability, improve productivity, and income distribution, will support peoples’ quality of life directly or indirectly and will enhance the opportunity for people to make use of their potential.
The worship place plays key roles in the social and economic life of local people as it It would be a growth centre in this present era. It generates huge incomes by various means and by its services to the people and results they visit again and again for their prosperity. The cycle continued making worship places more important and huge inflow of money. The secured governance designed a strategy that upliftment of worship places assets in India as follows.
- The surplus money could be used for asset generation of Temples through support of education and skill development like schools, colleges, Universities and skill development centers for students and employees.
- Worship places could facilitate to establish self-sustained hospitals, Community Healthcare Centers for treatment and maintain the human health.
- Worship place could take care of drinking water supply near to city or village region.
- Religious places could be act as an economic center for financial support to public sector banks.
- Replica of homeland worship places in host countries could boost employment opportunity and enhance our art and culture.
Government has to provide all the necessary permission for infrastructure development of the worship places. All the above mentioned developments are could help asset generation for worship places. Due to infrastructure development the asset value will be heightened and population also grow in that region. As per secured governance strategy the infrastructure planning can yield more sustainable outcomes over the long term for worship place organisations and meet financial obligations.
Secured governance strategy of sustainable social sectors through worship places could enhance our country in happiness index position. Happiness is nothing material. It’s living according to beliefs and rituals, creating fulfilment, and achieving good karma. India is an amazing country with an overload of smells, sounds and visuals every day. In a country with more differences than we could have ever imagined, the definition of happiness is really a matter of perspective.
Faith, beliefs and fervour have a colossal role to play in the way people react to a situation. This could be used by religious and spiritual centres in creating a way forward and being a role model to its followers and world as a whole. The need in this pandemic situation is therefore to guide and channelize them in the direction that would lead to lifestyle changes and create a positive approach to overcome it. They have a foremost role to envisage their contributions to the society and assist in bringing about a socio economic growth and national growth on a long term basis. Preparedness is key to success and growth. This is easily achievable by these institutions and their followers by tweaking on the lifestyle changes and thought process so as to bring about robust national growth
By Jayanthi Sekhar
Director of Micro Tech Global Foundation