We, the Government
By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
After an extended Coffee Break we returned to a home-coming full of unexpected crises. To start with, the day we got back to our cottage in the oak woods, a marauding gang of simians descended on us and started demolishing our little garden. These menacing macaques, potential carriers of rabies, are attracted by food waste generated by us, Homo sapiens. As human-endangering wildlife, monkeys are the responsibility of the Forest Department. But, with a few stellar exceptions, the senior officials of the Indian Forest Service in our state seem to live in their own self-perpetuating crony club. And so our Municipal Board had to step in: they were forced to employ professional monkey catchers. The next day 22 ravagers were caught from our area. That’s a very encouraging beginning though it’s certainly not the end. We have not Named and Shamed the forest babus who failed in their duty, but we do Name and Acclaim Mussoorie’s Municipal Chairman Anuj Gupta and Board Member Jasbir Kaur. We, the Government, who have elected these two worthy representatives, also elected our Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat. Leaders are meant to take difficult decisions and bear the consequences. Subordinates follow orders and find ways of passing the buck. Our CM took the difficult decision to permit the expat Guptas to hold the weddings of their sons in Auli, subject to the restrictions imposed by our High Court. Indian weddings are major income, employment and development generators world-wide and are courted by entrepreneurs all across the globe. Our mountainous state needs these inputs including the millions of dollars of free publicity that such events generate. For having the courage and foresight to support the trail blazing activities of these two eye-catching weddings, we Name and Acclaim our CM. During our absence from our little town, an ugly incident happened at the traffic barrier at the eastern, Kulri, end of the Mall. A group of allegedly alcohol-charged visitors got into a brawl with the Municipal Board employees manning the barrier. Mussoorie is a tourist town, but we are not a town enslaved to tourists. If a visitor crosses the red line of basic civility he must expect a normal, human, defensive reaction. The customer is NOT always right. This matter was, eventually, compromised and the aggressive visitors retreated to the anonymity of their homes in the plains. But then a curious thing happened. A self-righteous senior babu, or political neta, in Dehra saw a video of the fracas. He, or she, in a typically, cowardly, knee-jerk, blame-avoiding, reaction, demanded arrests. The aggressors had fled back to their homes in other states, so who could the local cops arrest? Following senior cops’ orders, two Municipal employees were jugged. All their colleagues went on strike at the height of our tourist season! We do not know which incompetent babu in Dehra finally conveyed this cockeyed order, but if we did then we’d Name and Shame him or her. We hope that some superior officer with spine and guts will haul that unknown person over the coals. We have also read an interesting quote, carried in a national daily. It says “The entire burden is on Mussoorie and Naini Tal which are not able to handle the tourist influx and the situation goes out of control.” The quote has been attributed to Narendra Singh Quiriyal, Director of Uttarakhand Tourism Board. This is a most perceptive observation. But now that the worthy members of our Tourism Board have reasoned out the nature of the problem, what are they doing about it? It might not be necessary to go on a six-month tour of tourist destinations world-wide, accompanied by spouses and hangers-on, to solve this dilemma! To start with, Members of our Tourism Board might like to ask themselves why other hill-stations have not been developed in our green state. Years ago, we did Tourism Resources Surveys after visiting a number of destinations at the request of both the Garhwal and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigams. Then the administrators who had commissioned us changed and very few babus like to acknowledge the initiatives of their predecessors. That’s survival, stupid! No, we’re not asking to be Named and Acclaimed for those proposals.