The Economics of Religious Innovation

Here’s a story from the WSJ about a temple in Hyderabad, India that capitalized on the growing IT industry.

Hoping to capitalize on all the activity, technical colleges
sprouted up in the city’s outskirts near Mr. Gopala Krishna’s temple. Students
started trickling by on their way home from school; many complained about their
failed attempts to secure U.S. visas. That gave the priest an idea to sell the
students on the deity by giving him a new persona, "Visa God." Mr. Gopala
Krishna counseled the students in English, then told them to walk around the
temple 11 times to get their wish. "I used to say, ‘Go, this time you’ll get
it,’" he recalls.

Soon, Mr. Gopala Krishna started seeing dozens — then hundreds
— of new visitors a day. In 2005, some local newspapers wrote about the Visa
God, just as new U.S. visa restrictions were taking a toll. Mr. Gopala Krishna
and his relatives also launched a Web site and a newsletter called Voice of
Temples, with features like a primer of sample prayers for help in visa

…Now devotees of the Visa God say they have to reach the temple by 6
a.m. to avoid the daytime rush.


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