The first four days of this year’s Hornbill Festival had something new in store-figures. The nodal department was able to state the total number of visitors to the event, especially at the Naga heritage village, Kisama. By end of Day-4 the department announced that a total of 84605 people visited Kisama out of which 1145 were foreign tourists and 12259 were domestic tourists. Such data collection is a good start for the state and needs to be improved. This kind of assessment is not new in the 18 year history of the Hornbill Festival and it did feature in some years but the statement was weak.
An event of such a massive scale which is directly promoted by the government should be studied in detail and its report tabled in the assembly. However, till now the figures are either not conclusive or it is not comprehensive to be considered as one, if one had to give the total assessment of all the Hornbill Festival related activities in all the districts. A conclusive study of the economic benefits of the 10 day carnival is missing although the government has been continuously pumping money for the 18 years. If only our lawmaker had such an intention then the government with more than sufficient human resource, it is not a task that is impossible.
The benefit of doubt will always go in favour of the pros rather than the cons, at least economically, of conducting the festival and it is accepted by the majority. However the days of presumptions are long gone and at this age the measure of the benefits in the form of figures is always better than lengthy replies in words. For the knowledgeable ones it is not hard to know how government money sanctions happen but for some the Hornbill Festival becomes the scapegoat for all the ailments in the state. The state with such low population, the need for human resource to conduct such an event is so high that it is safe to assume 50% of the population is engaged in it directly or indirectly. The many persons who lead agitations or protests and leaders of various organisations including the tribes organisations are themselves occupied during this 10 day affair. Everyone is in the business of making money, and that is a fact.
However the government continues to be lame ducks when the times comes for pot-shots against all the problems in the state accompanied with some blame or the other against the Hornbill Festival. This time the government with its regular count of tourists also need to collect economic data scientifically and correctly. There is a statistics and economics department, there is an evaluation department, there is an industry and its allied departments, and the list goes one. This time the government should declare the outcome once and for all. It will shut the mouth of the detractors if the data proves that the Hornbill Festival is beneficial and is also a step towards transparency and accountability for the government. Finally it will help in planning to improve the festival.