We, the Citizens
By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
We have not met our CM. But then neither we, nor many other people in the world, have met Vladimir Putin, or Joe Biden, or Boris Johnson though we see and hear them almost every day. That’s because of satellite communication, www and smart phones. Any government which has something to hide, and hopes that their expensive Spin Doctors can tailor public opinion, is living in a Fool’s Paradise of self delusions.
That is the first point. The second is that the voter is fed up with the gutter politics of today. Why are our law-making bodies filled with people with criminal cases filed against them? Is it because they can be blackmailed into toeing a particular political line? Is winability the only criterion? How about honour, integrity, honesty, izzat?
We ask these questions because, based on the information available in the public domain, our CM had all these upright qualities when he was an MLA. This is why he was such an unbeatable politician before he was appointed CM. Then he became subject to The High Command Rot.
This HCR is a deadly political virus. It infects the mind of its sufferer with delusions of unassailable impunity. The HCR patient argues “If my High Commanders can ignore all laws, why can’t I?” The fall-out of this delusion was described in a superbly perceptive Editorial in the Garhwal Post of 16 April, 2022.
“To begin with, it had much to do with centralisation of powers with one person. Or a small clique. The entire process is a subversion of the Constitution which accords the highest and primary respect to the citizen. Power flows from the citizens, either as voter or tax-payer to the various agencies of government. If, however, they have problems with the ill-treatment of the citizen by the Bureaucracy, it will come to pass that they will be treated just the same. …”
“Those who have had experience of the culture in small Himalayan states, ranging from Himachal Pradesh to Meghalaya, Sikkim etc were huge supporters of Uttarakhand formation, merely because of the greater dignity enjoyed there by common people as well as by the humility displayed by political leaders. Unfortunately the “High Command” culture of the national parties has ensured that those in power feel they owe nothing to the citizens and everything to those who appointed them “leaders” or issued party tickets.
This culture of puppy-dog servility was the hallmark of the Emergency. When people were asked to bow, they prostrated. If you did not conform, there was the midnight knock. Officials misused their powers to inflict punishments based on their personal enmities. It was a horrible time but we see its long shadow reaching out again. It starts in small ways like insisting on using the prefix “Honourable” when referring to anyone in authority. It continues with a cringing fear about being quoted “What I say is absolutely true, but please don’t quote me!” In other words “I will tell you about the raging fire. But don’t ask me to help. I don’t want to singe my fingers but I don’t mind if you do. Thank you so much!”
We believe that as long as Dhami was an MLA, he was able to help his voters to solve their problems. But when he became a CM the demands of the High Command became too much and too unscrupulous for him to handle. His voters rejected him!
As most Uttarakhandis know, leeches engorge themselves on warm blood in order to breed and produce more blood-suckers. But a touch of salt dissolves them. Truth is the salt that must be spread. Or to put it in less sanguine terms, don’t blame Dhami the Singer. He does not want to sing the Song written by the High Command.
It is difficult for a singer of romantic Uttarakhandi folk-songs to convert to the gesticulating innuendos and earthy lyrics of Indi Rap!
(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.)