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Dogs, Monkeys and Jumla

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We, the Citizens

By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

The winter of ’21 has come; so have the Winter- line and other illusions: the dulcet voices of netas spouting their jumlas. They will promote unfulfilled promises as past performance and make extravagant claims while thumping their chests and waving their arms because that is the way their handlers have directed them. Naturally, they will be suitably attired from their wardrobe department because the whole thing is a Bollywood epic scripted, choreographed, lit and crowd–managed by political producers who have invested heavily in this epic called Elections. And why not? We top the world in making films so why should we not use those skills in the serious business of governing the world’s most populous Democracy? Or rather, that is one argument.

Then we remember a certain President claiming that he seemed to be immune to Covid when all the while his body was awash with a broth of vaccines and steroids. Then there is that tousled-haired PM who continues to plead ignorance of a party held in his own official residence.

We have a wonderful word for all this: “JUMLA”.

Jumla has become the name of the game globally and it is about time that We, the Citizens, called our netas’ bluff in a civilised way .We must tell them, as firmly as possible, that their Bulldozing, Jumla and Pussyfooting around problems is over. Wake up and smell reality or be prepared to pack up your tents and drift into the sunset. This is not addressed to any one party, it applies to most of them, with two possible exceptions.

So, to start with, here is the question we, the citizens and voters in Mussoorie, ask right now.

WHY HAVE YOU THE NETAS OF OUR TOWN AND STATE BEEN UNABLE TO CONTROL THE MENACE OF FERAL DOG PACKS?

Dogs are pack animals. We humans have bred them to assume the shapes and sizes that we want them to be, but deep down dogs remain animals used to the security of the pack. If abandoned by their owners, and left to fend for themselves, they will become feral, semi-wild, again. They will move in packs, hunt in packs, select an alpha male and an alpha female and run tirelessly to bring down their chosen prey. We have seen the wild dogs of MP, the dhol, do that and it is a terrifying sight.

Until the `40s, every dog in Mussoorie had to carry a small brass token around its neck to show that its owner had paid the annual Dog Licence Fee to the Municipality. Dogs without these tokens were impounded, fed and looked after for ten days, then destroyed painlessly if not claimed. There were no stray dogs in Mussoorie, no canine problem.

Why did this stop?

When the lives of our citizens are threatened by goondas, insurgents, terrorists or infiltrators we call out our security forces and we eliminate, neutralise, sanitise, or clear the area. In other words we kill the humans responsible for this danger to our citizens’ well being. Then why do we turn the other cheek when it comes to the life-threatening activities of dogs and monkeys?

So, dear netas, please don’t mouth empty platitudes like “We are having them sterilised”. That procedure prevents them from breeding, not biting. If you or any of your family is bitten by a rabid and sterilised monkey or dog, you will still suffer from the horrors of hydrophobia. You will be dying to drink water but you cannot. You may have guards paid by tax-payers to frighten off rabid dogs and monkeys but do those who pay for these facilities have that? Do they have the security you have? Do you really believe that your life and well-being are more important than those of the voters who pay for your protection?

It is very easy to blame the High Command for the menace of monkeys but both HP and we have the same BJP High Command, so why have we not also declared monkeys as vermin?

Finally, there is the specious argument that monkey catching is a skill unique to some unspecified southern state. Monkey trapping is neither rocket science nor advanced combat avionics. If we can have faith in an untested industrial organisation to undertake the manufacture of sophisticated fighter jets, and give that assurance to a foreign government, then can’t we train monkey catchers?

(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.)