We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
The whole of India should be indebted to our Chief Minister. He, alone, has highlighted a menace that is likely to endanger our territorial integrity. We say this based on the experiences we have had during an unusually varied career. For more than 20 years we were an Indian Naval family. After that we travelled around the world and experienced the Russian action in Prague, were threatened as aliens at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie and Cuba’s Jose Marti International Airport and felt the tremors of the approaching Arab Spring in Cairo. These are not unusual experiences in a Travel Writer’s life. But they do alert us to the approaching political dangers. It is that heightened sense of lurking menace that has triggered our foreboding when we read these words, reported by the Garhwal Post, on the recently concluded, Chintan Shivir. One translation of this term could be Brain Storming. During that gathering, held in the LBSNA, Mussoorie, the CM reportedly said that due to losses caused to crops by wild animals there is large scale migration from the rural areas of the hills.
This gives an altogether new reason for the creation of Ghost Villages. Till now we have been led to believe that such population shifts were caused by a lack of development like roads, health services, employment and education. But now our CM tells us that the havoc caused by wild animals is the real root cause. Consequently this is no longer the concern of any authorities but the NSA, and the Chief of Defence Staff. When they enter the scene the menace has to be eliminated. We are determined to neutralise Terrorists, Naxalites and Infiltrators. If we see no harm in killing humans who menace our existence, by what perverted logic are we reluctant to order the slaughter of wild animals who menace our lives? Let us make no mistake about this: if wild animals lead to the creation of Ghost Villages, then those wild animals are helping the PLA to take over those lands. It is not logical to call a wild animal an enemy, but that term can certainly apply to those who protect such beasts.
The next step is very clear. Declare all such animals as Vermin. Authorise all land-owners in the state who are menaced by such wildlife to destroy such creatures. The time for conferences is over; the time for concrete action is at hand. Do not ask the Forest Department to handle this. This is now a matter of human safety and national development. We do not elect our netas to be wildlife wardens but for the welfare and security of human voters. Nature and wildlife need to be protected to the extent that they contribute to human welfare. Rights are born out of duties. No animal has any duties and, consequently, no animal has any rights. Even animal lovers claim that humans must treat animals with ethics. Do animals exhibit such ethical conduct?
Our family has always loved animals but we have never hesitated to shoot our pets when they have become rabid. That is our duty to our fellow human beings.
Finally, Mr Dhami, why have you been silent about the increasing danger by monkey attacks to the urban population of our state? Not every urban Uttarakhandi family is as well protected as yours is, by security staff paid by the tax payer. By the culpable inaction of your government, and those of your predecessors, adults, children and pets are bitten by the savage monkeys prowling our towns and villages. Don’t you and your High, Middle and Low Commands care about them? It is wrong to blame the Forest and other Departments of our state for not being able to handle the menace of wild monkeys. Your government has failed to provide these officials with the power to do so. You know where the blame lies, so do we, so does every Uttarakhandi voter. Doesn’t this worry you Mr CM?
The brain-storming in the LBSNA was a great idea. Your forthright focus on the economic devastation caused by wild animals, particularly wild monkeys, was forthright and welcomed. Now, Mr Dhami. Back Up Your Words With Action.
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)