We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
In English, that title would read The Mysterious French Connection. What is both mysterious, and worrying, is a news report claiming that, when our CM. was inspecting the landslide above our hydel station at Kiarkuli, he was advised to entrust such high-cost work to a French Company.
The mystery lies in the fact that this is the second time, apparently, that our State government has been asked to consider a ‘French company’ for the award of important Civil Works. We have not been given the company’s name. We have not been told what its expertise is in executing such works. The Uttarakhand sarkar has been asked to trust a foreign organisation without applying the rule of due diligence!
The first time such an attempt was made was when we were told that the Dehra-Mussoorie Ropeway Scheme had been entrusted to a mysterious, unnamed, French company. We have not been shown a Cash Flow to tell us how long it will be before the scheme repays the investment our taxes will have made in it. We have been told that a, so called, public discussion was held recently about the Ropeway Really? Does a responsible government evict scores of families, in a drenching monsoon and a raging pandemic, and only then have a so-called public discussion about the scheme?
Secondly , was the brutal eviction legal? The public flogging of Afghan women is legal according to the Taliban’s harsh laws. But is it humane, moral, or civilized ?
Our CM has a good, clean, youthful reputation which will stand him in good stead at the forthcoming elections. He should not soil it by defending the indefensible. In cases involving dubious projects he would be well advised to choose the White Paper route.
A White Paper is a government report which gives information about a proposed scheme. It expresses, in simple language. the reasons for proposing the scheme, its likely effects, and its cost. In our land it will have to be written in the two official languages, that is Hindi and English, with an additional copy in the state language if it is neither Hindi nor English.
White Papers should, ideally, be written on A4 sheets, double-spaced, with one inch margins, using Arial 12 font. There should be clear section headings so that the reader can absorb the gist of the paper at a glance. Six to seven pages are the modern ideal for White Papers.
White Papers are neither as slick as brochures nor as pedantic as trade essays. Most importantly, they should not be filled with complex legalese. They are not draft Acts. They are, essentially, the equivalent of Town Hall conversations that Law Makers have with those who have elected them, inviting dialogues not delivering decisions.
Ideally, they should be circulated on the net,
We have gone into some detail about White Papers because we feel that this is one way of ensuring that the voter can actively participate in Democracy. The Party System, for all its good points, has nullified the concept of A Government of the People, by the People and for the People. Bound to the Party’s diktat, Democracies soon become Autocracies, before evolving into Dictatorships. That, sooner rather than later, leads to bloody revolutions and Anarchy. The White Paper could be the way to ensure a participative form of government for our www millennium.
It would also be an easy way of encouraging the global Covid generation to take an active, and participative, interest in who governs them and how they are governed. Distant learning has made our vibrant citizens Smartphonesavvy. Once politicians realise that Vote From Home is the next inevitable step, secure on-line balloting systems will be developed. There will be a steady decline of massive political rallies as we learn to live with Covid and its rapid mutations. Without the hive compulsions of mass emotions, generated and hyped by actordemagogues and their back-room handlers, and illusion-creating technicians, voters will be able to take a more reasoned, less delusion-hyped, view of politics.
The overseas allure of La Mysterieuse Connexion Francaise will have evaporated. The new paradigm will be the power of the White Paper.
(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.)