By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 22, Aug 2015, 12:53 pm IST | UPDATED: 23, Aug 2015, 13:05 pm IST
New Delhi: One is the world's biggest religious congregation and the other is the most watched sports event in the world. However, if asked to identify the better organised event between the Kumbh Mela and the Fifa World Cup, which would you choose? Chances are you might go with the World Cup. However, Harvard University disagrees.
According to a book produced by scholars and students of the institution, Maha Kumbh 2013 was far better organised than the Fifa World Cup in Brazil. The 449-page book 'Kumbh Mela - Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity' described the 55-day-long event as sheer human achievement of creating the temporary, yet complex, infrastructure of the 24 sq km Kumbh City, comparable to almost two-thirds of Manhattan.
The book was launched in New Delhi recently by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The report goes on to quote the book's praise of Kumbh saying, "For a country notorious for its 'lethargic' bureaucracy, the success of Maha Kumbh is truly noteworthy.
If there was a national outcry and uproar over the poor preparations for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, the 2010 CW Games were marred by scandals and corruption, despite the fact in the two events there were much more funds and involvement of the federal/central governments."
According to the official website of the South Asia Institute of the Harvard University, over 50 professors, students, administrative staff, and medical practitioners made the pilgrimage to the Kumbh Mela to analyse issues that emerge from any large-scale human gathering. The Harvard team working at the Kumbh Mela geographically mapped and extensively covered the emergence of the city.
To better understand the sheer magnitude and intricacy of Kumbh Mela's organisation, here are some statistics from the book. "With 390 million communication events (calls, messages, etc) it saw largest use of cellphones at one place. If one individual goes through the call detail reports (CDRs) of mobile users at the Kumbh, giving just one second per call, it would take 12 years for him to go through the text messages and calls of just one company.
Over 50 days, there were 146 million (145,736,764) text messages exchanged and 245 million (245,252,102) calls made."With numbers as mind-boggling as these in a country known for its lack of crowd discipline, this book comes as a surprise, albeit a pleasant one.
"The way a tent township -- much larger than the size of Manhattan in terms of population - pops up in a very short time-frame is an example and a project for planners, urban bodies and policy researchers. How more than 100 million come to a small place, stay there for 55 days, apart from a daily cycle of a crowd of nearly five million bathing at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga,
Yamuna and Saraswati, meet each other, pray, join their gurus, camp with sadhus and ascetics and safely return to their native places are the things worth studying," the book adds. Students and faculty from five disciplines -urban planning, public health, business, architecture, and culture - were part of the team that studied event.