Comment The success of the World Telugu Conference 2012, gave the audience a chance to witness a variety of performances and set an example for the future. B. Prabhakara Sarma

Conference held in Tirupati from December 27 to 29 has plenty of numbers. A typical government-sponsored programme where the politician and bureaucrat moved in tandem calling the shots, the latter were pleasantly surprised by the near four-lakh turnout from the three-day conference.

The crowd at the 20,000 capacity Sri Venkateswara Pranganam at theveterinary college grounds, the main venue for the inaugural functionaddressed by President Pranab Mukherjee, was over 25,000.

The intermittent rain on the final day of the conference did nothing to dampen their spirits—many people came from villages far away from the temple town. Once the meet was open, visitors were seen moving to the Janapada Kalavedika and Rangasthalam sub-venues beside the main dais. From then on, they were glued to the spot to enjoy rich fare of folk arts and drama they seldom have a chance to witness.

There were quite a few artistes from the Telangana region who performed with gay abandon. Some of them inadvertently raised ‘Jai Telangana’ slogan at the end as is their wont, much to the amusement of the viewers. Gangireddu, the festooned bull, and its master, the exponents of Burrakatha, Harikatha, folk songs and music to the beat of drums and mythological drama all engaged them not only during the three-day festival but on the fourth day which was a Sunday.

While the main dais was closed after the third day, the government decided to keep open all sub-auditoria and book exhibitions on the fourth day. The artistes though handpicked were so eager to perform that they did not have the patience to wait till the previous performers vacated the platform.

They began their show outside, that way, providing ample choice to the ardent fans, the majority of whom were young.

Even the book expos were a big draw.The numbers impressed Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy who promptly announced Rs.220 crore for setting up sports and cultural centres in every mandal in the State in the next few years. After all, the Government has to give the people what they like, he explained. Unlike folk art shows, the literary programmes had little to cheer about. It was a pity that in some cases, the speakers on the dais outnumbered audience!

Of course, the politicians had their way too. Local Minister for Mines and Geology Galla Aruna Kumari also gave the North America Telugu Society a taste of ‘Indian punctuality’ by turning up over 75 minutes late to formally flag off the five kilometre youth run they conducted to spread Telugu Velugu far and wide. Among those who waited patiently was Deputy Speaker of New Jersey Assembly, Chivukula Upendra, who was elected a record six times there. Happy with the numbers at WTC 2012, the Government is now contemplating organising such shows albeit on a smaller scale in more centres.

Perhaps, they should choose only sub-metros like Tirupati where people are starved of quality entertainment by folk artistes. Something like organising big cricket matches at smaller rural venues sans live telecast and success is in the bag.

Happy with the numbers at WTC 2012, the Government is now contemplating organising such shows, albeit on a smaller scale, in more centres.