[GHHF] TTD Specified Authority is instituted replacing the Board; Update on recent developments
When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit." ~ Unknown
Since the collapse of Sri Kalahasti Rajagopuram about three months ago, things are changing fast in the management of the Hindu Temples by the government in Andhra Pradesh. Over the last four years since we started Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) and Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi (HDPS), we have taken many steps to make all Hindus aware of the plight of Hindu Temples. We met with many politicians, community leaders, artists, and Acharyas talking about the deplorable conditions in the management of Hindu Temples. Many Hindus were surprised to find out that Christian Churches and Muslim Mosques are free from government control while all the Hindu Temples making certain amount of money are taken over by the government without ever consulting with the concerned Hindus. For the government, Hindus do not exist. It would not occur to the government that it has the responsibility to consult Hindus whenever they make any decision about the Hindu Temples. It is arrogant, indifferent, conceited, fraudulent, and corrupt to the core. So far the government has been thinking that it can do anything and every thing to deny the rights of Hindus to manage their Temples. Because of the culmination of various charges of corruption, neglect of Gopura maintenance, missing jewelry, investigations, pada yatras and demand for revoking of TTD Board, the government is least concerned about the concerns, apprehensions, fears, and distraught about the damage it is causing to the Hindu Temples and Hindu Temples. Let us take this opportunity to be active and proactive to bring needed changes to restore the grandeur and glory of Sanatana Dharma.
Our organization (GHHF and HDPS) are fighting to repeal the Endowment Act so that Hindu Temples can be managed by the faithful and practicing Hindus. We know that it is a difficult road to tread. We know that we will face many problems; we know that we will be ridiculed; we know that we will be neglected and we know that will be watched. We know that is an uphill battle with no light at the end of tunnel. We know we have to work hard against all odds. We have been trying our best to restore Hindu Temples from the government when there seemed to be no hope at all. We know we have to keep on fighting for the freedom, liberty and rights of all Hindus. Many times the journey was lonely, very few people showed any interest. We have submitted several recommendations on several occasions to several officials in the government to free the Temples from the clutches of government tyranny. Of course whenever any body takes up a cause, it is not easy to achieve it. One has to face many hurdles, roadblocks, problems, hardships and stumbling blocks. If the cause is monumental and mammoth, bigger would be the obstacles. But one has to be focused; remain focused against all odds; and keep trekking. As long as we keep working, we know we will awaken the Hindus. Many Hindus, whether they are politicians, movie actors, singers or Acharyas, have joined the movement to root out the corruption and demanded proper management of the Temples.
Three Member Specified Authority is instituted; No more Board
Based on the sentiments of a number of organizations, politicians, concerned Hindus, GHHF and Sri Kamal Kumar of HDPS, and in order to prove that the administration is keenly interested in addressing the corruption charges, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh instituted three member Specified Authority with Dr. J. Satyanarayana, Special Chief Secretary, Medical and Health, as its Chairman. TTD Executive Officer I.Y.R. Krishna Rao and V. Nagireddy, Managing Director of AP Industrial Development Corporation (APIDC) will be the other two members of the Specified Authority. This will replace the existing Board of Directors of TTD. The term of the current Board, mostly made up of politicians, expired on Tuesday (August 24, 2010). The reports indicate that the outgoing Chairman DK Adikesavulu Naidu tried his best for a second term in spite of all the allegations against him and the Board. It appears that he went as far as pleading his case with Congress president Sonia Gandhi but could not get her blessings. A number of politicians and influential persons seemed to have lobbied for the post of chairperson but the Chief Minister got the nod from Delhi for an all-bureaucrat team to set right the affairs of TTD.
Articles 135 and 137 of the Endowment Act clearly says that the Specified Authority can be instituted in extraordinary circumstances to correct the irregularities, to remove corruption charges, to eliminate malpractices, to protect the sanctity of the Tirumala temple, and to revamp and clean the TTD administration of Lord Venkateswara Temple which attracts lakhs of devotees daily from across the globe.
The three-member Specified Authority will stay in power up to one year as per the article 137 or until the Chief Minister extends or appoints a reconstituted Board.
1) Arjitha Seva Ticket Scam
The Vigilance & Enforcement (V&E) Department of the Police has been investigating the Arjitha seva ticket scam. According to the V&E report that three (TTD) board members and 25 officials up to the level of deputy executive officer (DEO) have been named as guilty in the probe. The investigation also found that the executive officer of the TTD did not act on an earlier report of the vigilance officer who had pinpointed wrongdoings. The three of the total 11 board members found to be guilty are Kale Yadaiah, Alluri Subramanyam and Madalapu Anjaiah. These three members are political appointees and the V & E report has recommended initiating criminal cases under sections of the IPC on them. This includes cheating and criminal conspiracy.
2) The Outgoing Board requests full pledged investigation
The Board of Trustees of TTD passed a resolution on Monday (August 23) to ask the state government to initiate an investigation into the decisions taken by the temple administration since 2006.
The outgoing TTD Chairman D K Adikesavulu Naidu said it was unfortunate that three board members were singled out in a recent vigilance report on the Arjitha Seva ticket scam in the TTD. "It's not fair. Hence we have decided to ask the government to order a full-fledged probe for the period 2006-10 and bring out all the lapses, if any, to the fore. The probe will investigate all persons who served on the board since that time," he added. Interestingly, the move to invite a probe by the government was the last resolution by the present board, which is soon to end its term.
3) Ex-Chairman Mr. Karunakar Reddy gives up Fast
On Monday (August 23) the former TTD chairman, Sri Karunakar Reddy, had launched an indefinite hunger strike on Friday to force the state government into announcing a CBI inquiry into corruption charges leveled against him by Opposition members. Later that day Karunakar Reddy was shifted to Ruia Hospital, where doctors said that his blood pressure, sugar and pulse rate dipped. The former TTD chairman accused the police of trying to foil his fast. Karunakar Reddy vowed to carry on with his fast at the hospital till the government orders a CBI probe into the allegations made against him.
On Tuesday (August 24), the pontiff of Kurtaalam Mutt, Sri Siddeswaranandha Bharati Maha Swami, who was in Tirupati as part of his Chaturmasa Deeksha came to the SVRR hospital in the afternoon and persuaded Mr. Reddy to give up his fast.
4) Government rules out CBI probe into Corruption charges
Mr. Gade Venkata Reddy, Minister for Endowments, has categorically ruled out ordering a judicial or CBI inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
Mr. Karunakar Reddy has been requesting CBI investigation into the Arjitha Seva Ticket scam. However, the Minister appealed to former TTD chairman B Karunakar Reddy to call off his fast, saying that the government had already refused on the floor of the Assembly and the Council to seek a CBI inquiry. Even during the regime of YS Rajasekhara Reddy the government had the same stand, not to get CBI involved.
NOTE: GHHF and HDPS have taken the position that CBI must investigate the Arjitha Seva ticket scam and other corruption charges in order to be impartial. We feel that the state government, politicians and other influential people can easily influence the V&E department since it is under the supervision of the state. Further more, even if the report is impartial and submitted to the government, it may not see the daylight.
HENCE WE REQUEST CBI investigation into these charges.
5) TTD Jewelry to be insured
The outgoing TTD Board on August 23, 2010 discussed in detail the need to insure the new and ancient ornaments of all the Deities associated with TTD and decided to insure the sacred ornaments at the earliest. The Board requested TTD administrative wing to take steps and hold talks with well known insurance companies who come forward with a low premium quote, he added.
As many of you are aware that some antique valued ornaments gifted by some kings to the Tirumala temple centuries ago have been missing. Some of the jewelry has been melted and stored. Allegations are made to indicate that no proper record keeping of these valuable ornaments is established.
6) TTD Board Member Cancels Vastram Seva Tickets under pressure
With so much pressure from the devotees, media and politicians about the rampant Arjitha Seva Ticket scandal and identifying three Board members for misappropriation, TTD board member T Indira Subbarami Reddy on Monday (August 23) decided to cancel the `Vastram' seva tickets and donate the amount to a Veda trust.
Indira, wife of former Chairman of TTD and MP Subbarami Reddy, booked 164 Vastram tickets in the name of her kith and kin, allowing them the privilege of taking part in the seva in the next 60 years. The cost of each Vastram ticket is Rs 12,250 and under the discretionary quota, it goes up to Rs 50,000.
"In case a pilgrim cancels the seva tickets, the TTD repays the amount," an official said. But instead of taking back the Rs 20 lakh amount, Indira donated the amount to Sri Venkateswara Veda Parirakshana Trust, which propagates Vedic studies across the country.
7) SRIKALAHASTI RAJAGOPURAM:
Sri Gade Venkata Reddy, Minister for Endowments, said the Rajagopuram of Srikalahasti temple would be rebuilt by the end of 2012. A meeting was held in the presence of Chief Minister K Rosaiah on August 24, 2010 to discuss the matter. It is expected that Chief Minister may lay the foundation stone to build Rajagopuram in the next few days.
Navayuga Company came forward to build the Rajagopuram with it’s own funds. They will construct it under the supervision of the Endowments Department and take the suggestions of archaeology experts into consideration.
The Rajagopuram will be built at a cost of Rs 30 crore in the same style as that of the one that collapsed recently,’’ he said.
Lesson for all Hindu
Hindus have to be cognizant of the ever-growing government’s role in taking over moneymaking Hindu Temples. The misdeeds include auctioning of Temple lands, encroachment of Temple land, misappropriation of funds, total neglect of the proper maintenance of the Temples, failure to provide proper facilities to the pilgrims, appointment of politicians to the Boards of the Temples across the state, improper accounting of jewelry, unacceptable preservation of historical and ancient Temples, payment of low salaries to the priests, allotment of Temple lands for the employees and many more.
Hindus have to be attentive, alert, vigilant, watchful and proactive. Indifference, neglect, silence, and apathy take us only to the total annihilation of our culture and civilization. As Edmund Burke said “Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference.” The government and politicians are able to feed themselves on our indifference. The more we are indifferent, the more power the government acquires. The more power it acquires, the more it tramples our freedom. Once the freedom is trampled, individual freedom is lost. Once freedom is lost, humans cease to be humans. As Wayne Dyer states “Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery.” The government is obstructing and interfering the lives of Hindus in practicing their religion. They are denied their freedom. Hindus have to break the government’s interference in the affairs of Hindu Temples. It only by being conscious, vigilant, and proactive, they can break the cycle of interference and intrusion.
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