We, the Government
By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
At long last it’s come. The Five-Year Reckoning has arrived. Those men, and women, who have been lording it over us for five years, now knock on our doors, praying for our votes. This enforced humility is thanks to those far-seeing Indians of the Constituent Assembly who decreed a shelf life for our netas. After being elected by us, our delegated representatives may believe that they become Immortal, Omniscient and Omnipotent; they may believe the assurances of their fawning, self-serving votaries; they may believe their own jumlas; but in their heart-of-hearts they know that this is all make-believe.
And so, the day of We, the Government has arrived. Don’t throw it away, don’t waste it. Use it to ask the most essential questions to our netas. If the neta belongs to the ruling dispensation, then ask “What have you done for me?” If the candidate is from the opposition, say “What do you plan to do for me?” If none of them can be specific in their solutions to our problems, tell them to brace themselves for rejection on the EVMs!
And if it’s too late to ask questions keep Performance, not Promises, in mind when you vote.
Our first and most pressing problem is water. We in Mussoorie, in particular, have no rivers or wells. We depend on our springs. The springs depend on our aquifers. The aquifers depend on the percolation of rainwater. Percolation depends on forest cover to prevent run-off. Forest cover is destroyed by so-called developers who slaughter forests. These vandals “persuade” the netas, babus and sundry monitoring agencies to look the other way when the forest cover is being destroyed.
The reaction to this open pillaging created the headline: Water Supply Woes Force People to Threaten LS Boycott (GP 2 Apr 2019). That was a long overdue response. If there had been more displays of such civic anger then our smug netas would have woken up earlier and smelt the strychnine! We have just one bit of advice to those protestors. Don’t blame only the pani-walla, the lowest man on the totem pole. If he’s making money then presume that his bosses are too. Write an open letter to them asking for an explanation. Hold them accountable. Those who are corrupt, hate to be questioned. Questions are not accusations and it is against the interests of the nation not to ask for accountability. Culpable silence, in such circumstances, is an anti-national act.
Judging from the photograph that appeared along with the by-lined article, the protesters in Landour were largely women. Naturally: women have to bear the brunt of such negligence. What happened in Landour is an omen, a trailer, of what is likely to be repeated, over and over again, later this year. Here are some other ominous facts to support our warning.
• Civic ire over water shortage is spreading. International environmental chowkidar, Mongabay, has a picture of housewives competing for water in the Marathwada district of Maharashtra which is suffering from severe drought.
• An independent weather forecaster has predicted a depleted monsoon and a much hotter summer this year.
• A hotter summer will drive more tourists to the naturally air-conditioned heights of Mussoorie.
• More tourists will put more pressure on our strained water resources.
The Simla Jal Nigam has broken its own record by pumping water for 24 hours. Our Jal Nigam has not even been able to install bulk meters at the intake and output points of its reservoirs in Mussoorie. We still do not know exactly how much water each reservoir receives every day, how much leaks from these tanks, and how much is supplied to Mussoorie’s consumers. Is this vagueness deliberate because accurate statistics are the bane of the bhrasthacharis?
New Delhi has, apparently, approved Mussoorie’s long-overdue Jumna water project, provided a new survey finds it feasible! Or when the moon turns into blue cheese? We sincerely advise our beloved netas to visit our Martyrs’ Memorial. Ugly, unpredictable, things happen when you push the voters too far.
But even if our netas and babus manage to avert such chaos (and hopefully they will do that) please brace yourselves for the outbreak of Water Wars this tourist season!