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Generational Change

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Uttarakhand has made considerable headway against the difficulties that caused it to be made a separate state. Now, however, there is a new set of challenges brought about by its transformation into a ‘middle-level’ economy by Indian standards. Owing to its diverse terrain, there is the usual problem of skewed development, requiring implementation of different development models. Above all, great emphasis has to be given on ensuring there is no one left behind.

In its early years, the state had the good fortune of having a stalwart like the late ND Tiwari as its Chief Minister, who established the foundations of change on several fronts. He leveraged his deep experience of the system of that time to establish the pattern for future growth. The present day situation, however, requires a generational shift, in accordance with the large-scale technological and lifestyle changes taking place. In that context, the present Chief Minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, represents the new age leadership of the state. He has come up the ranks of Uttarakhand politics and does not carry the baggage of the UP administrative culture. With the first wave of development initiatives having borne fruit, the clear requirement is to build upon the achievements, correct the mistakes and kick-start the new.

Uttarakhand is recognised today as one of the states likely to be most affected by climate change and faces scrutiny in this regard when it undertakes development activity, particularly on a large scale in the higher reaches. It is easy for ‘experts’ to decry efforts being made to make life sustainable in the hills and prevent large scale migration, but governments and politicians have to deliver. This has to be done without disturbing the social fabric or endangering the basics of governance such as maintaining law and order, delivering civic amenities, educational facilities, etc. Employment generation, particularly in the hills, has a high and immediate priority.

It can be said that, thus far, Uttarakhand under CM Dhami is striving to acquire dimensions over and above the present configuration. The development charter has emerged out of past experience and an anticipation of the future, which is highly science and technology intensive, even if it is a question of promoting home-stays, or adventure sports, or natural farming. The Dhami Government has shown an awareness of this aspect, even as it works to take advantage of central government programmes on the larger scale. It is expected that the upcoming string of conclaves and summits on various subjects will help further refine the development vision for the well-being of the state’s people.