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Someone up there IS listening


By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer

This has been a great week.
We feel vindicated when we see our state government laying lines for the long overdue Jumna Drinking Water Augmentation Scheme for Mussoorie. We had proposed this very many years ago through the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee.

Many netas and babus had tried to intervene, sensing the rich dividends that might be available. There had been an expensive Survey because Surveys offer considerable scope for variations. And variations are always attractive because they give an opportunity to diffuse the truth and allow the padding of facts.

But though we are delighted that our proposal has resulted in concrete work in Mussoorie, there are nagging questions we must ask. Why is the Jal Nigam building expensive new reservoirs for the Jumna water? Since we have a water shortage, then surely our existing reservoirs stay unfilled for long periods. Why is the Jumna water not being pumped into the existing reservoirs? If they are filled 24×7, Mussoorie’s water shortage will vanish, and there will be no need for the tanker owners to supply unfiltered water to hotel guests.

Or are the possible benefits received by, and from, the water-tanker owners part of the reason why the water shortage continues?
The second public announcement that delighted us was the Agriculture Minister’s assurance that the government is placing increasing attention on the cultivation and marketing of Spices. This is another one of our repeated suggestions. For many years we worked closely with the Spices Board of India based in Cochin and wrote their definitive book on Indian Spices: SPICESTORY.

If our Minister of Agriculture, who seems to be a go-getter, concentrates on the propagation of spices, and their effective marketing, we could achieve many goals, including a reverse migration to our Ghost Villages. The Chinese are building villages in disputed areas to bolster their land-grab claims. We have villages in our frontier areas but we have allowed them to turn into Ghost Villages.

If we stopped spending money on such hare-brained schemes as expensive tunnels through our fragile mountains and white elephant Cable Cars we might have funds to give gainful employment to our own people. We were delighted to read that our Governor has expressed himself on the marketing of our products. Marketing is the science of promoting a product to suit the consumers’ needs. It is not selling. We also commend the Agriculture Minister for planning to get Certificates of Origin for our specialist products. Sparkling white wines are produced by many vineyards, but only those tagged to a specific area can be called Champagne.

In contrast to the open and progressive activities of the Agriculture Ministry, our Forest Ministry appears to have a Jekyll and Hyde approach to their domain. On the one hand, while their project to preserve grass species native to our environment, and their scheme to have an aromatic plants plantation, seem extremely praiseworthy, we cannot align it with their strange obsession to fell trees on any excuse: cycle tracks, tiger safaris, shortening driving distances to destinations, even turning a blind eye to the construction of flats in Corbett. If there was ever a case of the fence eating the crop, this is a classic one of a forest gormandizer.

Finally, there is the headline-catching News of the Day: The PM’s apology for causing the farmers; distress was as unexpected as it was welcome. We, however, believe that our kisans’ year-long anguish was the inevitable outcome of the pernicious, Fascist, system of the High Command. In 1938, the term Obberkommando was invented by the Nazis. Indira Gandhi found it appealing because it endorsed her belief in her “Kitchen Cabinet”. Sadly, very sadly, even the well-meaning, have fallen victims to this vicious democracy-destroying system. The representatives you and I elect can no longer vote according to their voters’ needs but have to adhere to the whims of the whip (note that vicious word) of the High Command. These secret entities could be a single family or close friends often seen in whispered conversation.

(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.)

It will be interesting to see how Parliament deals with this reassertion of our founding principles of Discussion, Debate and Diversity, thus restoring power to the rightful owners of India, We, the Citizens.