Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Times of India: Krishna's MMS: magic messaging service

TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2003 12:44:11 AM

BANGALORE: Swamped by ill-luck and dissension, Chief Minister S.M. Krishna is relying on a retinue of professional magicians to lift his flagging fortunes.

It appears that the CM's spin-doctors have hit upon this unusual idea to effectively project the government's welfare programmes in rural areas.

Over the next 17 months, a 20-member team belonging to the Magic and Allied Arts Development & Research Institute (MAADRI), a non-governmental organisation, will tour every taluk across the 27 districts in the state.

The government's PR machine has identified nine thrust areas or "the rural man's Navachetanas" which the magicians will be giving expression to through a series of imaginative tricks.

Says M B Jayaram, communications adviser to the CM: "For quite sometime, our team had been brainstorming on how to propagate the government's work among the rural masses. Eventually, we came up with the idea of utilising the art of magic as a medium for grassroots communication."

Team leaders Prahalad Acharya and Nakul Shenoy have earnestly put together a creative module.

For showcasing Bhoomi, the government's much-celebrated project of computerising land records, Acharya takes a document, shreds it into bits, implying this was the sorry state of the records before Krishna took over.

"And after the implementation of the Bhoomi project, this is how your records look," tells Acharya plucking out a spanking-new document.

In another trick to highlight Krishna's contribution to rural education, Acharya shows three pieces of rope cut to uneven length, illustrating the economic disparities prevalent in the society.

"See what education does to this society," he announces to the audience displaying the ropes, which by this time are all equal in length.

A woman expertly slipping out of the shackles that bind her exemplifies Stree Shakti -- the government's programme for empowering rural women. The other tricks pertain to issues relevant to housing, agriculture, irrigation, water supply and sanitation, health and roads.

"The challenge here is to give a vibrancy to the drab government propaganda. We will create spectacular magical illusions and present each of the navachetanas in traditional, folk and ethnic settings," says Shenoy.

The shows, to be conducted in the presence of local MLAs and party functionaries of the region, will be complemented by a touring exhibition.

Will the magician's illusions make the Krishna government a reality?


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