We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
The last British Chief of our Navy was Vice Admiral Sir Stephen Carlill. He preferred to keep a low profile, unlike his predecessor, the flamboyant Admiral Sir Mark Pizey. The Navy’s Nehru was Pizey and our Shastri was Carlill.
Carlill was noted for his favourite speech. According to his interpretation, when Roman potters tried to peddle their inferior creations, they filled cracks in their products with wax mixed with dust. The deceit went unnoticed till the water in the pot was heated. Then the wax melted, the cracks opened and the potters’ crimes were revealed. This inspired the Latin phrase Sine (without) Cere (wax) and the English word Sincere.
Carlill’s punch line was “If you are not Sincere, you will be discovered!” Consequently, all netas who discredit their own, earlier, claims, explaining their previous statements as mere political bamboozle, jumla or puffery, are admitting that they had lied in order to win votes. They had stooped to salami-slice the voters into thin, warring, slivers so that they would spend their energies in internal squabbles and not see the large, and ominous, Trojan Horse that they had admitted into their midst. Many political parties have tried this ploy, but some have become more skilled at this skulduggery than others.
In our Indian context, as the world’s largest and most diverse democracy, we must identify everyone who tries to widen our sectarian cracks into crevasses. One litmus test is that real patriots do not convert every act of municipal welfare into a vote catching publicity stunt. Such staged events remind us of the spectacular blooming of the world’s largest flower: the meter-wide Rafflesia arnoldii found in the jungles of Borneo. It resembles and emits the foul stench of a huge slab of bloody rotting meat. It has adopted this revolting strategy to attract carrion flies. The misled insects visit this spectacular flower, eager for their gory meal, find nothing to eat, and fly away. They have been fooled into carrying the pollen of the plant to increase the number of deceiving Rafflesia across the steaming forest! The parallels between this flower and some vote-alluring deceptions worldwide is too close to ignore!
Having said that, we are happy to see that many Mussoorie folk continue to work in comparative anonymity. One group is striving to bridge the gap which, they claim, has been imposed by an insensitive bureaucracy. According to the group, people who eke out a living by scrounging for a job every day are unable to fulfil the digital formalities to register for an affordable vaccination. Moreover, the stocks of vaccines reserved for them are limited. But those who are computer-savvy, and can afford it, can get an easily-available shot at Rs 1,200 an injection. The group’s allegations are serious and deserve immediate investigation.
Then, two members of our City Board have raised the very critical, and long delayed, matter of augmenting our drinking water supply. Against a demand of 15.13 mld of water during our tourist season, the Jal Sansthan supplies only 7.69 mld. This is why one of us raised the matter of increasing the water supply by creating the Yamuna Water Supply scheme. That was many years ago. According to a City Board Member, the scheme has been contracted and sub-contracted and is languishing in culpable inefficiency. That sounds very familiar!
Similarly, we need to know how much water is lost while being pumped from the springs to the reservoirs, and also through leaks in the reservoirs. Bulk meters at the reservoirs’ intake and output points would do this. If the Jal Sansthan also wants to know how much water is lost or drawn by non-commercial consumers, it should replace the house-hold water-meters. These were removed by the Jal Sansthan and water bills are raised on other criteria. Electric bills are issued more rationally.
Finally, our long-awaited, STP-based, human-waste-disposal system, has still not been completed. Apparently one State Department is at loggerheads with another. If that happened in the human body, it would be called an Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome.
Is that what is afflicting our government? If it is, then it can be cured by refusing to vote for netas who spout hatred and divisiveness. Apply the Wax Test.
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other
National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 half-hour 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 is a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)