Why choose the Seven Wonders of the world by popular vote?
When I first heard that we have to vote to make the Taj Mahal one of the Seven Wonders of the World (The New7Wonders Foundation was set up in 2001 by Swiss-Canadian Bernard Weber), I was more than a little surprised. Surely experts made the choice…historians, cultural experts…? I mean, can just about anyone look at art and decide its worth? Should the best art be chosen by votes then? And what about books? Should the number of book sales determine how ‘classic’ a book is? How can popularity be confused with heritage?
Well, we the public are going to vote for the seven wonders of the world. Flattering though it is, it makes me uncomfortable. Quite likely that the country which manages to publicise this issue to the hilt will get more people voting. In fact thats already happened. The royal family of Jordan has campaigned extensively and as a result people voted for the ancient city of Petra in southwestern Jordan…the city’s ranking improved dramatically.
I do wish some other method had been deployed to choose the Seven Wonders! I wish that we didn’t have to vote for the Taj…that it had been chosen because of its stature, not popularity. Interestingly, the Egyptian government protested – and their efforts paid off. The Giza Pyramids will remain a wonder of the world without voting…they will be called the eight wonder.
We need this automatic inclusion…because I am not sure how many Indians in India will actually vote. India may have a huge population but 40 percent is illiterate and of the rest 60-65 per cent I doubt whether more than 25 percent are internet savvy. And in any case, not everyone has access to a computer. As for making a call or sending an SMS (rates are higher than usual) – well, awareness levels are fairly low.
By the way, only online voting is free, with just one vote per person. BUT if you phone in or send an SMS (4567 for India), you can vote as many times as you want! Thats because the foundation wants to raise funds…but hey, organisations and countries could actually sponsor these events! So how fair is that?
Even more important….one tends to vote for those places which one has actually seen or at least heard of. So is that fair? Well, inspite of everything, I think the Taj has a chance, because its been around a long time and many people have seen it. And well, its the most beautiful structure in the world and entirely made of marble. The most beautiful and stunning…after the Egyptian pyramids. The Taj also has a romantic legend woven around it…the monument celebrates the deep love Shah Jahan had for the love of his life…Mumtaz Mahal. Quoting from the site:
This immense mausoleum was built on the orders of Shah Jahan, the fifth Muslim Mogul emperor, to honor the memory of his beloved late wife. Built out of white marble and standing in formally laid-out walled gardens, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the most perfect jewel of Muslim art in India. The emperor was consequently jailed and, it is said, could then only see the Taj Mahal out of his small cell window.
In case you haven’t voted…the place to go is here. The last date is 6th July so go for it!
(Photo credits: goasia)
Update 8th July: The Taj has won. Its in the list. 🙂
The Seven wonders of the world are:
1) Chichén Itzá, Mexico
2) Christ Redeemer, Brazi
3) The Great Wall, China
4) Machu Picchu, Peru
5) Petra, Jordan
6) The Roman Colloseum, Italy
7) The Taj Mahal, India
This list is in alphabetical order, from the New Wonders site. As of this moment the number of votes per monument has not been revealed. For reasons of transparency they should release the number of votes per monument. Not just country-wise for each monument but also the number of telephone calls, SMS’s and online votes from each country. This will give an indication of how big a part patriotism played in this voting and how big a part money power played…I am really curious.
Related Reading: Trip to the Taj Mahal – a slide show.