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Home Personality Interviews

Personality Interviews

Veer Vijay Singh

Veer Vijay Singh
Hotelier par excellence

 

Mudit: Where does tourism in to Hyderbad and Andhra Pradesh stand in the national arena?

VVS: Foriegn tourism in Hyderbad is negligible and whatever little is there is mainly concentrated towards Puttaparty in the State. Domestically, it has increased a bit, although most of the tourists got to Tirupati. The image of Hyderabad has gone phenomenally towards the positive, businessmen from abroad are slowly frequenting Hyderabad.

Mudit: How is the Department of tourism playing its role?

VVS: The Department of tourism is playing a very healthy and favourable role - thanks to the efforts of concerned ministers and officials. They are playing a proactive role, making the city and the State known to the world in places like Berlin, Dubai, Singapore, Turkey and even in World Trade Mart, London, they have left their mark.

Mudit: As the President of HRAAP, how do you put your point across to the Government? Any specific issue for now?

VVS: I have to look at any issue from the point of view of a general person in hotel business - to serve the collective purpose. For this, we have an executive committee, a general meeting is organized every month and the General Managers meet every week. A consensus is reached upon on issue and it is put formal to government for action. Currently, its the issue of power tariff. Hotels being an industry, should be charged industrial power rates, not the commercial power rates as it is being done now.

Mudit: What according to you, is the factor(s) apart from the food, service, ambience that make a hotel or a restaurant a happening place?

VVS: It is going beyond customer expectations. Till now, it had been customer satisfaction that counted. Now, it's going beyond that - customer delight is the name of the game. The farther you go into that, the better.

Mudit: What is the ideal time for restaurants and bars?

VVS: 12 Midnight for restaurants and 1-1.30 AM for bars, he ends.

 

Dr Krishnaiah

Dr Krishnaiah
Officer and a gentleman

 

Tirumala, the magnetic hills, the very abode of the Almighty, attracts people (Jana) & wealth (Dhana) in astronomical numbers. The task of administration of an organization like Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams is no doubt an exacting one. The sacred duty is now being competently executed by the Executive Officer Sri P.Krishnaiah, IAS with indomitable spirit, zeal and energy. Here are a few words from him when our correspondent met him at his office.

JS: As the Executive Officer of Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams, how do you feel rendering services at the Lord's feet at this so-called Bhooloka Vaikuntam?

EO: I feel it a great privilege that the God has ordered me to work in this great organization and perhaps I deem it to be the punya my parents would have contributed. It is a rare opportunity for any civil servant to be in this holy place.

JS: What are the changes or modifications brought out by you at the administration level to benefit the pilgrims during your present tenure?

EO: By and large I am mainly concentrating on the facilities for the common pilgrims. The well off pilgrims have adequate facilities, I mean that they can manage things on their own. The common man cannot afford to do that and in order to have hassle free Journey we are concentrating on pilgrim accommodation, darshan etc. As far as the accommodation is concerned, we are trying to add extra dormitories. The common pilgrims needs some place to keep his belongings and does not expect any plush accommodation. Similarly in case of tonsure we have added extra barbers hence the waiting time has come down substantially. Regarding Laddu as prasadam the production has been increased and therefore any devotee enters the temple can at least get a minimum of 5 laddus in addition to what he is entitled in the process of buying the tickets. Regarding food in Annadanam canteen, we have enhanced the capacity and infrastructure facilities in the canteen to feed from 15,000 to 30,000 people in a day. In addition, lots of Hotels are established so that there is always competition amongst hoteliers to serve quality food. If there is monopoly naturally people will exploit. The market economy should take care of these needs, then, automatically the quality will improve whenever there is perfect competition. Keeping this in mind ten Janatha Hotels have been added and today you don't find much of queue in front of any hotel.

JS: Do you think any facilities extended by TTD are not being fully utilized by the pilgrims?

EO: Yes, one of the facilities that TTD has extended is sudarshan token system which enables you to tie the token then have the time which can be used in visiting the other places of interest so that you are not confined to one place. This needs to be given more publicity so that pilgrims can utilise the service to save time.

JS: The maintenance of the roads and public places at Tirumala are really praise worthy but why is it not in case of cottages?

EO: Well, by and large the maintenance of the cottages has improved. But in cottages the basic problem is that of linen. The cottages have been privatized for the purpose of maintenance. I should also convey that we don't have professionally trained house keeping department as such. We have realized this problem and are looking forward for a house keeping department who are professionally trained. Failing which, we can not keep up to the expectations of the pilgrims.

JS: Any other information you would like to convey to our readers?

EO: Well, TTD has been doing yeomen service in not only managing the temples but also has several philanthropic services. It is running educational institutions with about 30,000 students on the roll. We have several activities like running an orthopedics hospital (BIRRD), a super speciality hospital called SVIMS. Then we have a leprosy house, poor home, an orphanage, a training center for the physically handicapped and a deaf and dumb school. A range of such social activities are being planned irrespective of caste and creed. So such benevolent donors should come forward liberally to donate further for these social activities. I would like to mention particularly that we have recently introduced a scheme called Prana Dana scheme in which the poor people will be given free treatment particularly in the areas of heart, brain and kidney diseases. We have also planned to include cancer as one of the treatment areas. Under the able guidance of our Chief Minister, a decision was taken to form a trust. A trust is registered and resources are coming but they are not adequate enough. The idea is to create a corpus of 100 crores under the trust and the interest generated out of this is expected to be utilized for the treatment of poor people. So I would appeal to the donors to come forward and contribute liberally for this social cause.

JS: Will you please tell us as how far the ropeway project has materialized?

EO: Ropeway project is taken up by the AP Tourism development corporation as you all are aware. The tenders have been finalized according to the information available with me. Formal clearance for taking up the work by the government of India and the ministry of forest department is necessary because the tower construction is falling under the reserve forest area. Therefore the reserve forest clearance has to come and once it is cleared, perhaps the agency might take up the work.

JS: Kindly tell us as what measures your administration has taken to check the middleman and touts?

EO: The basic problem is unless you create a system these things continue to exist in any society. Systems have to be created for allotment of cottages, allotment of tickets or supplying prasadams etc. When there is a gap between the demand and supply, naturally there is scope for such people to play roles. But we cannot be silent spectators. We should have a continuous R&D effort so as to bring down this gap. One of the areas wherein TTD is actively associated is in making use of the technology available for making things more transparent so that the discretion is minimized with the officials dealing various privileges. So I am looking at this area to minimize the discretion and make the system foolproof by making use of the technology to the extent, that there is no scope for middlemen and touts thereby minimized the threat if not totally eliminating.

JS: Thank you sir for giving your valuable time.

S Rama Rao

S Rama Rao
Dynamic leader and executioner

 

Srikalahasthi - also known as Dakshina Kailasa, the very abode of Lord Siva has been hallowed by sages from time immemorial. The darshan of the self manifested vayulinga is a veritable nectar to his devotees, who throng to this place in ever increasing numbers. Devotees perform Rahu-Ketu pooja here, to get themselves relieved of the ill effects of Sarpa dosha and be bestowed with spiritual and material wealth.

The task of administration of such a devasthanam is being successfully executed by the Executive Officer, Mr. Rama Rao, a man equipped with foresight and an accomplishing will. In an exclusive conversation, the EO spoke about the various plans he has, in order to put the pilgrims to greater convenience. 

A few excerpts from the interview : 

SRS: Other than Sivarathri festival, what are the other festivals gaining importance?

EO: Dharmaraja festival, Kumaraswamy festival and Navarathri festival are the ones which attract large numbers of pilgrims.

SRS: Oflate Rahu-Ketu pooja is gaining lot of importance. Kindly tell us about the same.

EO: Well, Rahu-Ketu pooja has become very popular. The temple is gaining importance and drawing pilgrims in large numbers. On an average 1200 poojas are performed in a week. In this context I would like to add that there is another puja called Sarpa Dosha Nivarana pooja, by performing which many pilgrims are being benefited. Since, Srikalahasthi happens to be a Vayulinga Kshetra, the efficacy of performing these poojas is multifold.

SRS: Can you throw some light on the other sevas performed here.

EO: Well, as Lord Shiva is an Abhiseka Priya - the regular 4 abhishekha's per day, Rudrabhishekam, Palabhishekam, Panchamrita abhishekam and Saneeshwara abhishekam are performed. The special sevas like Nityakalyana utsavam, Unjal seva and Nandi seva are also gaining equal importance. Gopuja (cow pooja) and Nijaroopa darshanam have been introduced recently.

SRS: What are the facilities available?

EO: We have a master plan which will be executed shortly, which will cover cottages on par with Shirdi. This will be especially reachable for a common man at an affordable price.

SRS: Anything else you would like to express here as far as the future plans are concerned?

EO: There is going to be an all-round development here after. Regarding the cultural aspect, Srikalahastheeswara Sahitya Kalapeetam is going to come up shortly. There would be a magazine called Srikalahasthi prabha, which will consist of the importance of the kshetra and an update of the devasthanam. As a recreation spot, there is a park coming up for which 50 acres of land is acquired. We would be inviting the private investors to develop that area. We intend airconditioning the Mukha dwara of Ammavaru. We invite funds for the same and for the proposed diamond crown, which is estimated to cost 80 lakhs approximately.

SRS: What are your plans to streamline the amenities to pilgrims?

EO: We would be adopting a master plan which would cater to the needs of the pilgrims for the next 100 years. However, it will take 4-5 years to materialize. For instance, the streets are going to be widened and whoever steps into Srikalahasti will find it to be a different place altogether.

SRS: The other service activities of the devasthanam in the field of education, annadanam, etc.,

EO: At present nearly 200 people are being fed under the Nitya Annadana scheme. Donations are invited under this scheme. Srikalahastheeswara Institute of Technology (SKIT) came into existence under the sponsorship of Srikalahastheeswara Swami Devasthanam Educational Society, under the initiative of Hon'ble Minister and Local MLA Sri B Gopalakrishna Reddy, along with the active support of the then Trust Board members. SKIT is affiliated to JNTU, Hyderabad and offers courses in the fields of Computer Science, Electronics & Communication, Electrical & Electronics and Mechanical Engineering.

SRS: Thank you sir for giving your valuable time.

Padma Priya

Padma Priya
Interview with a dansuese turned actress

 

Dance was in her blood. It was ever waiting to flow out and shapeup into a beautiful, young, meticulate and disciplined dansuese. Young?!! Could be as young as six years of age at which she started with the rhymes of Bharatanatyam not understanding though what it was all about.

Padma Priya (Popularly known as Priya) has grown up to be a vibrant dansuese under the auspicies of the famous guru Natya Brahma V.S.Ramamurthy.

An offspring of Brig (Retd) V.K. Janakiraman and Mrs. Vijaya Janakiraman, Priya was growing to be a celebrity from the tender age of eight. With over 200 public performances to her credit, she had won plenty of accolades. Her Krishna Leela Ballet, where she performed the role of Lord Krishna for Hyderabad Doordarshan in 1990 is telecast even today on almost all Krishna Jayanti festivals and was specially chosen for the SAARC exchange program - she also featured in ‘Nritya Rupam’, an innovative choreography by Jayalakshmi Eshwar at Delhi, which was also specially telecast by Delhi Doordarshan.

The following are excerpts from her exclusive interview to Primetime Prism.

 

Q. Do you have a natural inclination towards dance or was it imposed upon you just because it was in your family?

Answer : “See I would like to answer it this way” (very confidently), in all my performances, I manage to keep the audience glued to their seats. It is the rasika or rasa which I present to the audience that helps me doing this and to develop rasa to this extent one has to have a natural inclination or interest towards the art form. It cannot be injected into one’s system.

Q. In dance, nritya & abhinaya are two main components, how do you manage a good balance among these and how does one master them?

Answer : Well, it all depends on your guru, his guidance and of course your personal interest also matters. I would like to mention here that I had the privilege of getting trained in two great traditions — the Vaghuvar & Kalakshetra styles. The more styles you learn, the more you develop in these skills. I would also like to make a definite note of the systematic training imparted to me under the able guidance of Guru V.S.Ramamurthy and the intense attention of his daughter Mrs. Manjula Ramaswamy towards my overall development into what I am today.

Q. Has your natural beauty and grace added to your popularity?

Answer : Bharatanatyam, the art form itself is so beautiful & charming that any dansuese has to look beautiful in that make-up. So I don’t think that really is an issue.

Q. Was dance always has all that you wanted or you had anything else in mind?

Answer : It is unfortunate yet true that only dance cannot feed every artist. It can only be a supportive element. I was and am inclined towards modelling and have also done many assignments (print & video). I am looking for good cinema offers too. But I am too choosy. I don’t want to take a wrong step. Apart from all this I am a B.Com (Hons) graduate & intend to do my MBA very soon.

Q. What is your ultimate goal in life ?

Answer : (Instantly) I want to start an institution which teaches dance to the talented, free of cost. Cast, creed, status will be no bar for the students who have the potential. They well get the best possible training here & a lot of opportunities to perform too.

Q. When is this likely to happen ?

Answer : I myself am still learning now. It would still take atleast 4-5 years before that happens.

Q. Lastly what is your message to the people ?

Answer : We have a lot of classical art forms in India, which slowly are getting extinct because of lack of public interest. I feel that every Indian should in his lifetime learn & teach atleast one of these artform. Then we will be the world leaders in this field.

Eloquent eyes, infectious smile, perfect grace, enchanting looks and true to real bhavas and abhinayas are her assets. The ease with which she weaves intrinsic patterns, her dexterity in performing elaborate and complex nuances and the way she lives through the portrayals make her a star performer. Priya captures the imagination of the audience with the alacrity of her rhythmic energy and was ever the cynosure of all eyes, be it a dance ballet, a drama or a group choreography”. This is what her father felt about her daughter.

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