We, the Government
By HUGH AND COLLEEN GANTZER
The Idiot Box is doing its best to earn its name. With the notable exception of two channels, the rest subsist on a mishmash of violence, vituperation and – when aspiring netas grab the spotlight – vulgarity. It’s certainly entertaining, if you like your entertainment raw and bloody. We share neither the doom and gloom of assorted political and economic pundits, nor the hype and hoopla of the hired claques. We have faced the dark days of the Emergency spun around “India is Indira and Indira is India” and the melting chocolate dreams of “Garibi Hatao”. We have travelled the length and breadth of our land many, many, times: researching, probing, absorbing. Globally, too. We were in Prague’s Wenceslaus Square when the Soviets rolled in and were almost arrested by the police at Checkpoint Charlie before the Wall fell. In Santa Claus Village, in Finland, we saw a pendulum which, they say, stops swinging to hold back time so that the Great Gift Giver can shower his largesse on the worthy. There are many who believe in him and hope is a positive emotion. We, however, know that the resilience of India lies in its diversity. This is really what our competitors should fear after they have failed to hammer their subservient people into a monolithic uniformity. As our wise Forest Department folk will tell you, a plantation made of a single species is likely to be wiped out by a single virus. Nature relies on variety to survive. This is what We, the Government, must strive for in Uttarakhand. We must bank on our strengths. We are a beautiful mountainous state. We need to preserve that beauty. Industrialisation will not do that. The Service Sector will. Sadly, most netas don’t have the longevity, and the majority of babus don’t have the imagination, to develop that segment of the Service Sector most suitable for our needs: Tourism. Judging from the eyesores unleashed on Mussoorie by the Mussoorie Dehradun Development (!) Authority all that they can think of has been aptly described by iconic hospitality entrepreneur, Jose Dominic, as “stacked shoe-boxes with icing”. We need hotels which are sensitive to environmental needs. But while we know of people from the hills who have the land and can access the finances to create appropriate hotels, they do not have the expertise to design and run them in an eco-friendly way. Nor, for that matter, do we, in spite of being in international travel and tourism for over four decades. Now, however, we have found a solution. Well-known hotelier Param Kannampilly has set up an organisation to help fellow hospitality entrepreneurs create and run environmentally sensitive hotels. They come in three categories. A Fern Hotel is a five-star property, certified by the Central Tourism Authorities. Stepping down a notch or two are the four and three star Fern Residency Hotels. Finally, there are the smart budget properties, down to two star Beacon Hotels. They are also about to launch Service Apartments called The Zinc as well as three other hospitality brands. We have been assured that Param’s organisation has systems in place to ensure that “environment sensitive procedures are followed in operations”. It is not just a question of long-distance supervision: which is the sort of eyewash that serves no purpose! So, unless a hotelier is really serious about his environmental concerns, he should not consider joining the Fern Brand. Clearly, however, it pays to do so because though the brand was launched in 2009 with 6 hotels, it now operates 66 hotels in 46 locations and is hoping to sign up 100 hotels by 2020. It also plans to expand into South-East Asia, targeting destinations where Indian travellers like to go. Interestingly, it started its Brand Loyalty programme two years ago and now has 82,000 members. Furthermore, when it started in 1996, it was Concept Hospitality and then it cloned Fern Hotels in 2009. That is all we are going to say because this is not a promo. It is information about a facility which might bring environmentally-sane prosperity to our state. If you want more details, about either Concept Hospitality or Fern Hotels, we are sure you know how to find them.