The Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister has asked all animal lovers and tourists to pray for the speedy recovery of Renny, the white tiger. Special prayer meetings are being organized at the Van Vihar National Park, Bhopal. Renny was operated upon recently by a noted veterinary surgeon for a fibrous growth. The minister does not mean to reflect on the abilities of the surgeon. He just wants additional insurance.
Prayer is firmly ingrained in us Indians.
Take the practice of praying for rain that is rooted in our culture. Farmers continue to pray for rain, their faith unshaken, even if their prayers are only answered after several sowing seasons. City dwellers have become somewhat cautious in recent years after experiencing floods due to rains. They now prefer to pray for water flowing out of taps.
Occasionally, farmers have to pray for the rain to stop. Last year, torrential rains in Jodhpur district resulted in swollen rivers and the breaching of the 118 year old Jaswant Sagar Dam. Farmers then prayed to the gods to lower the water level in the dam as well as the rivers. Their prayers were answered eventually and the flood waters did recede.
Students of Tagore Bal Niketan School in Karnal, prayed for Sunita Willams safe return from space, encouraged by their school principal. That was not only because she was half Indian by ancestry but also because another NASA astronaut, the unfortunate Kalpana Chawla, had studied in their school. NASA is rumored to be discussing a contract with the school for prayers by students to accompany all its future space shuttle flights.
My grandmother was the one who taught me to pray. Somewhere along the way, I also learnt that after praying, I could also ask for some favors. In school, I prayed for good marks in the exams and then for admission to a good college. Once in college, I stopped praying. 35 years later, I have again re-discovered prayer. I now pray every morning that my MTNL broadband connection is up. As I said earlier, prayer is firmly ingrained in us.
Other Governments need to quickly learn from the example of Madhya Pradesh. Sending ministers and MP's to attend the prayer meetings in Van Vihar should be high priority. The Delhi Government in particular has its task cut out. It should ask all electricity users to do their bit and attend special prayer meetings in front of their colony transformers throughout summer. And the transport department should quickly accept the suggestion to build small temples along the BRT corridor for pedestrians to pray before crossing the road. Moreover, it has been pointed out that temples will be easier on the state budget than pedestrian over-bridges.