There is no success formula for any business or industry especially if you are in Mumbai. Some businesses or industries flourish within no time and many of them vanish in spite of their track record. That my be one of the reasons why so many temples are erected for people having inherent fear and uncertainty; most demanding deity for these temples is Sai Baba. Ten to twelve years ago Udai Acharya who proclaimed himself as an eminent editor took initiative to build SaiTemple near Thakur complex of Kandivali suburban. He made this temple equivalent to famous SiddivinayakTemple using all the known marketing techniques. There is a serpent like queue for darshan at any time of the day and particularly on Thursdays.
This temple and its managing trustee Udai Acharya are in trouble due to financial malpractices. Udai Acharya is a Managing Director of his own company CU Marketing. He and his company used to promise the investors that the deposits would be doubled within 8 months paying 12% interest per month. Many small investors started pouring money in CU Marketing. Udai Acharya promptly used to pay the interest so as to gain confidence of investors. This also resulted as oral advertisement as a trusted financial company. But like any other fraud financial company, CU Marketing refused to pay back the capital after the maturity. In this manner, company liquidated after pocketing Rupees 3.5 Crores. With this huge amount he invested in real estates at various places. Sai temple is also one of them, which used the fraudulent funds. He built this SaiTemple in 1990. Huge amount of money used to pour in the donation box of the temple. Amol Acharya, son of Udai Acharya used to transfer the collection to his box. It was estimated that at least Rs. 50 to 60 Lakhs per month used to be pocketed by Acharya family. When questioned, he gave evasive answers stating that the money is spent on the free food distributed among poor people. In fact Sai devotees used to donate rice, wheat and vegetable in large quantity.
Udai Acharya has now been sentenced rigorous punishment of 10 years by the court for cheating the public by Rs. 500 crores. Honourable Judge suggested that investors should be paid from the money collected in the donation box of Sai Mandir after deducting the expenses required for maintenance for the SaiTemple. The complete case has given rise to many questions. Common man is already in trouble due to rising cost of electricity and transport. He is suffering due to water shortage and unemployment but still he feels that donating money to SaiTemple will solve his problems. In fact sectors like electricity, water supply, forestation etc. are suffering badly due to shortage of funds. Crores of money collected in the donation boxes of religious places like Tirupati Temple, Sai Temples and Chishti Darga should be utilised for public utility programs instead of allowing the charity trustees to build huge palaces over the idols with gold and silver plates or arrange functions which encourage superstitions. Religious fundamentalism is being encouraged and the donations given by the common people are being used to support these activities. There should be political will to curb such practices and used the public money for projects which will benefit the society.
- Prabha Purohit