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Happy New Year!


We, the Citizens

We wish you, Mr Tirath Singh Rawat, the very best of good
fortune in the year ahead. Like a glittering comet appearing, unexpectedly, in our political firmament, your sudden ascension has been breath-taking. Your unpredicted arrival has sparked a great amount of interest, and many questions. Here are a few of the queries being asked by the voters of our beautiful Uttarakhand.
1. Why have the 4-year celebrations of the existence of the government been cancelled? The government has not changed, only the CM and some of his ministers have. But Cabinet reshuffles are normal and political parties have every right to change their CMs. The political party elected to rule our Himalayan, state has not changed, so why were the festivities discarded so abruptly? This, in turn begs the next question.
2. What was the reason for highlighting the 4th Year of a 5 year term anyway? Was your government so relieved to have reached the fourth lap, of this long-distance run, that it decided to commemorate it while it still could and before the Common Man, the Aam Aadmi, decided to surge out of the stands and over-run the track? We did not see any evidence of that happening but perhaps your Movers and Shakers did!
3. Why was the cancellation of those 4th year celebrations inevitable?  That is the word used by a senior bureaucrat. Anyone interested in the ebb and flow of Uttarakhand’s political tides knows of the conflicting tugs of the powers of Garhwalis vs Kumaonis, and Brahmins vs Thakurs. This is natural and, possibly, necessary. The great oceans of the world are kept fresh and renewed by the conflicting pulls of the gravities of the Sun and the Moon. Without them we would have stagnant, lifeless, stretches of water. So these traditional conflicts could not have been the inevitable factors that forced the government to cancel the 4th year celebrations? It had to be something more recent. Was it the hasty creation of the 3rd Commissioner? That would have increased the career prospects of the babus of our state though it would also have deprived Kumaon of the significant cultural weight of Almora. But we did not see any public demonstrations against this move and the government is not likely to change its mind on the mere suspicion that there might be public unrest because of this decision. It has stood firm against greater civic movements!
4. Since the cancellation of those festivities will inevitably be taken as an admission by the Government that it has failed to provide anything to celebrate, isn’t this giving free fuel to its political opponents? As all decisions taken in this strange matter have been attributed to a mysterious ‘High Command,’ is this a sign that it is losing its touch? So far, the unspecified ‘HC’ has been adroit in its tactics. Or, is there some hidden strategy behind this move? Skilled strategists are often willing to lose a Pawn to take a Queen!
5. If, indeed, the intention of cancelling the 4-year celebrations was intended to show the displeasure of the ‘HC’ with the efforts of the last CM, then why has it risked promising celebrations after 100-days of the new regime? The only reason why anyone can pit the reality of a 4-year performance against the probability of 100-day future performance is if the decision-makers have pre-judged the performers! That will harm their credibility, badly!
6. Why haven’t our decision makers realised that Roti, Kapda aur Makaan are no longer the driving needs of all our people? Our rich have got enormously richer: good for them! Our poor seem to have got sadly poorer. But after that wise economist, Dr Manmohan Singh, lifted our aspiring Middle Class out of our once-glorified mediocrity, that growing segment of our people has more ambitious aspirations. These are Health, Education and Jobs. It is these drives that have propelled our people into becoming such a potent force in US politics that President Joe Biden recently said that Indian Americans are taking over America. How does your Cabinet intend to tap the high potential, and restlessly growing ambitions, of Uttarakhandis, Mr CM?
Once again we wish you a Very Happy New Year!
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 half-hour 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 is a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)