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Demonetisation Move hits Tirumala Temple Pilgrims hard as Hotel Owners, Taxi drivers and Shops refuse to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 Currency Notes

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams arranged for free food, snacks and milk for all pilgrims

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Lord Venkateswara, Tirumala
Lord Venkateswara, Tirumala. Flickr
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Tirupati, November 9, 2016: Devotees visiting Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala were hit hard on Wednesday as taxi drivers and owners of hotels and shops refused to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination currency notes after the government’s sudden move to demonetise them.

The pilgrims, who flock from all over the country to the temple town, had a tough time buying food and other essential items of daily use. Some were facing difficulties even in buying milk for their children.

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“After reaching at the railway station on Wednesday morning, we learnt that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes are no longer valid. Since we were travelling, we are carrying only high denomination currency notes,” said G. Rammohan, a devotee from Visakhapatnam.

With banks and ATMs closed for the day, the pilgriums and visitors had no option but to borrow or buy on credit, or to rough it out.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which runs the affairs of the hill shrine — the richest in the country — intervened to provide some succour to the pilgrims. It arranged for free food, snacks and milk for all pilgrims.

“We are also accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for darshan tickets,” a TTD official told IANS.

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Arrangements were also made to enable devotees swipe their credit and debit cards for accommodation and other services provided by the TTD.

[bctt tweet=”About 50,000 pilgrims every day have ‘darshan’ of the idol at the Tirumala temple in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. ” username=””]

The pilgrims at Sri Bhramrambha Mallikharjuna temple at Srisailam and other prominent shrines in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Telangana also had a tough time due to the Centre’s move to do away with high denomination currency notes.

The devotees complained that the sudden move caused them severe inconvenience as they were stranded at bus and railway stations. Many went without food for hours.

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As it is ‘Karthika masam’, an auspicious period, thousands of devotees throng the temples, especially at Srisailam.

Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad has demanded that both the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments set up special counters at temples administered by them to help devotees to exchange Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. (IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)