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How much did Nagaland Government leaders spend on their South Africa World Cup ‘vacation’ trip?

Updated on February 10, 2011

(International readers please note: Nagaland is a tiny tribal state in the frontier regions of North East India. This hub is about the ‘South Africa World Cup vacation’ almost half of the state’s government Cabinet took in July 2010 to Johannesburg, South Africa for the Soccer world cup)

For the first time ever in history, ‘Team Nagaland X’ entered the World Cup soccer finals, in South Africa – to watch. Notwithstanding the outrage of citizens and opposition political leaders, that is.

Almost all the top leaders of the government of Nagaland, led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, were in South Africa for the soccer World Cup. Reports named six from the Council of Ministers “on a 10-day holiday to South Africa.” Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Home Minister Imkong L. Imchen, Planning Minister TR Zeliang, Health & Family Welfare Minister Kuzholuzo Nienu, Power Minister Doshehe Sema, and Agriculture Minister Chumben Murry. Joining “Nagaland-X” was also Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development Pangnyu Phom and Press Secretary to Chief Minister Abu Metha.

No one had any offers to suggest if the expenses were borne from ‘personal resources’ or billed by Nagaland’s shaky State Exchequer. A local daily had quoted Chief Secretary of Nagaland, Lalthara, as stating that the trip was not “official” but “it must have been” fed by private resources.

Criticisms across the internet, blogs and even Facebook and Myspace – where literally thousands of Naga youths are active – say that the 10-day “holiday trip” is not only lavishness. With the government’s own-admitted ‘lack of additional resources,’ the Opposition Congress had been screaming deficit for long. Even if the Nagaland government leaders funded the “holiday trip” from ‘personal resources’ the whole issue stank and projected itself as one nothing short of sheer elitist arrogance.

Yet again, even if the State’s Exchequer billed the trip, it still was reckless extravagance when the tiny state continues to be hard-pressed for cash. The average Naga – if employed – struggles to pay for his children school fees with a Grade-IV salary.

An angry citizen taxed his opinion on The Morung Express: “Even the President of India cannot afford to go to South Africa; from which money is Rio taking his (group) to Africa…In reality, most Nagas doesn’t even have a proper square meal and education, a day. Why not donate the same…?”

The approximate Johannesburg ZAR and the dollar story

So, whether private or State-funded, how much would a one-way trip to South Africa cost for, say, ten persons? Until Wednesday July 7, 2010, the international currency exchange for one ZAR (South African Rand) was equal to Indian Rupee (Re.) 6.19. (www.coinmill.com)

International Currency Exchange: Air Tickets, Rupee and ZAR

Average homemade calculations throw up interesting figures: Until Wednesday July 7, the average low/economy Airfare rate from Mumbai to Johannesburg was Rs. 36, 609 (economy, Rs 28, 000 fare and Rs. 8, 609 Taxes and fee). For ten men traveling from Mumbai to Johannesburg, the total (air ticket fares alone, one-way, non-stop flight) comes to approximately Rs. 3, 66, 090 (based on average considering international currency fluctuations). {www.travelguru.com}

Hotel & Lodging

Price listings of a one-day stay in a Johannesburg costs an average South African Rand (ZAR) 2125. If ten men even merely checks into an ordinary, average hotel in Johannesburg it will cost the equivalent of Indian Rs. 1, 31, 520. Multiply the amount into a ten-day stay comes to a total of equivalent of Indian Rs. 13, 15, 200. This calculated total is just for a check-in and check-out (for ten men, ten days, no inclusive of other services, food expenses etc included) expenses from an average hotel in the South African capital (calculated from tripadvisor and yatra.com).

The total travel-to, check-in and ten-day stay in Johannesburg for ten men approximates Rs. 16, 81, 290. Assuming ten men have booked the return tickets from Mumbai itself with the same average/economy class fare the total comes to (approximate) Rs. 20, 47, 380. (The rates would be different, assuming that the return tickets are booked from Johannesburg).

So what could be the approximate total? Let us just say the Nagaland government leaders spent at least – I repeat, at least – spent Rs. 25, 47, 380 Lakh approximately ($55,819.77 USD or 405, 217.91 ZAR) for the entire trip. Great, so from where did the Rs. 5, 000 come. Well, please read the notes appended in the following. The Rs. 5, 000 addition was just to offer a 'formality' for the potential expenses not calculated that could have been accrued from the outlays listed in the following (the notes).

Note: All the calculations are casual, based on the lower average of an Economy-class air ticket fare from Mumbai to Johannesburg only and average “normal hotel” check-in prices for ten men for a ten-day stay (excluding food service charges). It does not include domestic travel expenses from Nagaland to Mumbai and vice versa. The calculation also does not include food for ten men for ten days, lodging fares and related hotel service expenses and that in Johannesburg, all Indian money (Re.) would be converted and paid only in the higher South African Currency (ZAR). Until Wednesday July 7, the international currency exchange for one ZAR (South African Rand) was equal to Indian Rupee (Re.) 6.19.

Note: The calculation does not include transport, food and related expenses that could be incurred by ten men during “visiting places of interests in South Africa apart from being at the Soccer City Stadium for the finals,” during the ten-day stay as was reported earlier in some national newspapers. Operative (current) currency exchange rates formed the basis of all the calculations.

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