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Naming and Faming

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We, the Government

By HUGH & COLLEEN GANTZER

Here’s the Good News. In an all-pervasive atmosphere of Doom and Gloom, our Mussoorie is doing rather well: thank you. Or, rather, thanks to a man named Varun Choudhary. We’ve not met him but our research has revealed that he is from Delhi and is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from one of our prestigious
Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). He is also our SDM. For us, in the mile-high remoteness of our Himalayan town, the SDM is the principal administrator, the boss of all the government servants paid, by our taxes, to run our town effectively. He is expected to work in co-ordination with the Chairman and Members of our Municipal Board who we have elected to serve us.

Sadly, very often, both our civil servants and elected officials suffer from over-inflated egos and begin to believe that We, the Government are really We, their Servants. Our SDM does not seem to suffer from this Delusion of Grandeur. When this young civil servant realised how badly COVID–19 could affect the people of Mussoorie, he appointed a committee called the ‘COVID–19 Helpline Mussoorie Group’. Significantly, its
members are:

1. Anuj Gupta, Chairman, City Board, Mussoorie
2. Varun Choudhary, SDM
3. VS Negi, Inspector of Police
4. Rajat Aggarwal, Chairman of the Traders Association of Mussoorie
5. Jagjeet Kukreja, Secretary of the Traders Association of Mussoorie
6. Dr Alok Jain of the Civil Hospital, Mussoorie
7. Dr Pradip Rana of the Civil Hospital, Mussoorie
8. ML Shah, Executive Officer of the City Board, Mussoorie
9. Sanjay Aggarwal, Secretary of the Mussoorie Hotel Association
10. Sandeep Sahni, President of the Uttarakhand Hotels Association

As soon as it was appointed, this group swung into action. It learnt that a small number of migrant workers
needed food. It contacted the Gurdwara in the Library area. True to the reputation of Gurdwaras worldwide,
packets of food were delivered to the hungry migrants. The service-minded Nirankari Bhavan, on Camel’s Back
Road, joined like-minded organisations and offered their resources whole- heartedly. Volunteers from the Helpline Group began to scour the town for hungry people. To their surprise, virtually everyone entitled to rations had received them and did not need further
assistance. Apparently the proactive SDM had been able to plug most leakages!

We now recall that, before we had learnt of the existence of the Helpline, an officer from the Police station had phoned us, given his number, and asked us to call him at any time of the day or night if we needed assistance of any sort. Surprised at this unexpected offer, we dialled the number and it was, indeed, Sub-Inspector Suraj Khanduri who had spoken to us. We have heard that such things happen in the super welfare states of Scandinavia but not in our highly-populated land! This is the first time that such an offer has been made to us and we congratulate our police.

And 30 minutes ago, this Monday morning, a sanitation team arrived and fumigated those public areas of our cottage which might have been touched by the virus.

It is also very heartening to learn that the Traders Association of our town has got its volunteers to deliver rations to the needy and home delivers orders to the more affluent at no extra charge. The Association also arranges for minor repairs, such as leaks, to be carried out quickly.

These events justify our hopes. We started writing this column because we were disgusted with the arrogance of many of the politicians we Indians had elected in virtually every state. These netas had assumed the airs
of Maharajas, spending our money to line their pockets and boost their egos, reducing our lesser politicians to dumb, driven, cattle and our revered institutions to echo chambers. This is not unique to any one party: it is an endemic, systemic, spreading, rot.

This is the first time, since our people united to drive out the mining mafia, that the administrators have teamed up with the citizens of Mussoorie to solve our needs. The Group deserves to be named and famed. The Authority of the State and the Might of the Voters have, finally, combined to assert the strength of We, the Government.