Wonder Taj! Nothing official about it
The Taj getting voted as one of the seven wonders in a worldwide poll may make many an Indian heart swell with pride, but the campaign has also drawn criticism for using sentiments of people around the world for commercial gains.
The UNESCO, which has the official mandate for recognising and preserving world heritage, has taken pains to distance itself from the campaign, saying the initiative cannot in any significant and sustainable manner contribute to the preservation of sites elected by the public.
There has been a big rush by Indians to register their vote for the Taj through SMS and the Internet.
There were also a number of promotional campaigns exhorting the people to vote for the white marble monument over the last one month, many of them involving Bollywood stars and other celebrities.
But critics of the campaign complain that while there is nothing official about the new seven wonders of the world, the mobile phone companies and the Swiss organisation that conducted the poll have made a lot of money.
Mobile company Airtel offered the first SMS to its users to cast their vote for the Taj for free, but the subsequent SMSes were charged at Rs three. Normally, the SMS rate ranges from 50 paise to Rs one.
Asked if the company shared the revenue with the organisers of the campaign or with anyone else, an Airtel official refused to divulge the details.
However, generally, in case of such 'premium SMSes', there is an in-built system for sharing the revenue.