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Hornbill funds soar to Rs. 3 cr plus

The worshipped – but, unfortunately, delicious – Hornbill of Nagaland is slowly being eaten into extinction but the mascot is soaring higher, at least. For the 2012 edition of the Hornbill Festival the Government of Nagaland threw in an extra Rs. 1 Crore to take the approximate total funds to Rs. 3 Crore from the Rs. 2 Crore the Tourism department spent for the 2011 festival.

The Rs. 3 crore for the ongoing festival does not include the additional Rs. 20-25 lakhs the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has allocated for this year. The sad part of the story is that the festival isn’t generating much revenue. The government is only spending but the returns are understood to be much lesser as the festival has not been commercialized.  

Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Yitachu said tonight that the ‘expense’ for this year’s edition of the cultural showcase was approximately Rs. 3 crore. The government of India also extended ‘some help around twenty-twenty five lakhs,’ the man in charge of Nagaland’s most-hyped cultural export said December 5, Wednesday.

This is for citizens’ note that the State ‘earmarked’ Rs. 2 Crore for the 2011 edition and an unspecified amount from the Ministry of Tourism. Records show that the Tourism Ministry has been allocating funds – normally from Rs. 5 to Rs 10 lakhs – for the celebration of premier festivals of the Naga tribes. For instance, in 2010, Nagaland got Rs. 45 lakhs ‘for celebration’ of Minkut festival (Rs.5 lakhs), Mongmong (Rs. 5 lakhs) and for the Hornbill Festival Rs.20 lakhs.

Legislator Yitachu suggested in his comments that the funding would increase as the festival gains stature in the future. According to Yitachu, the festival is picking up momentum: ‘Before, only the aged and old people used to attend the festival; nowadays the young are attending.

The festival has also been able to attract Asian tourists also and not only from across the State but we have also been able to attract visitors from the country.’

Good hopes aside, the Hornbill Festival is not enjoying that much of a smooth flight though. During the interview, the legislator admitted that the festival has not ‘really grown as we expected’ specifically to the aspect of revenue generation. ‘We are trying our best that the festival would earn by itself and generate revenue. We had expected private participation (investors) but it has not grown as we expected. So right now it is at the promotional level; for the government is only spending,’ he disclosed. ‘I hope things would improve.’

Queried on the reasons why revenue is ‘not to the degree it was expected’, Yitachu attributed a bigger part of the cause to people’s general aversion to paying for services. For instance, he said car passes are free but vehicles are insecure; however if Rs. 50 is paid for the pass, then there is also a service facility that entails security of the vehicle because a monetary obligation is involved. ‘Here our people don’t want to pay for any,’ the MLA lamented.

He said that people must realize that that spending entails something in return whether in goods or service. “We don’t want to pay anything but we expect everything,” he added. He hoped that the ‘free-for-free’ mindset would change so that in the future the festival would become a self-reliant and self-revenue-generating event that would aid the local economy.

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