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Imagenation

Sinking ship
The annual Pushkar Fair could lose its star attraction, the ship of the desert

Colourfully dressed camels, scores of Rajasthani musicians with their iktaras and golden sand — these are what come to mind at the mention of Pushkar Fair. However, the annual event may lose its chief attraction over the next five years. This year’s fair recorded a nadir in attendance of the humped-backed beasts, at a measly 3,223 from a whopping 15,490 in 2001. This is a blow to the fair that attracts many tourists and traders, and it was chiefly due to the falling price of the animal. A camel once went for 30,000-50,000 but it now sells for a meagre 2,000-5,000. These plummeting prices are a serious threat to the livelihood of Rajasthan’s traditional breeding communities such as Raika and Rebari, who hold the 2015 Rajasthan Camel Bill liable for their troubles. The bill banned the slaughter or export of the animals from Rajasthan, and caused a vast demand-supply mismatch. A committee from the state husbandry department has taken note of this grievance and has agreed to amend the bill, to suit the communities’ and breeders’ needs post the fair. The ship of the desert sails stoically through this storm, which ironically could abate with its slaughter.

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