We, the Government
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
In the crisp chill of our Himalayan pre-Christmas Week we have coined the term “CI: Community Intelligence”.
Communities can no longer be defined by language, race, region, religion or profession but by ideals. We have, very dramatically, been confronted by a sudden upsurge of young, well-educated Indians from all over our sub-continental land, uprooted from their homes, forced to seek succour from their peer groups. Here, unfettered by paternalistic prohibitions, they have felt free to aspire to new freedoms of dress, friendship, food, relationships and ideals. They mock the maha-machismo chest-thumping of some netas by pointing out, cynically, “The brain has no muscles!” They refer to the fact that the world’s most socially advanced countries, the Scandinavian nations, have a majority of women Prime Ministers including the world’s youngest one. They say “Don’t confuse Traditions with Truth or Celebrations with Science.”
We appreciate their spirit.
In accordance with our own traditions, we have erected a Christmas Crib and set up a Christmas Star. Both, however, incorporate historical inaccuracies. The Three Kings did not pay homage to the Christ Child lying in a manger in Bethlehem. That probably happened years later in another place. The Christmas Star was a conjugation of stellar bodies and not a single bright object in the night sky. In fact the Christmas Crib was created centuries after the birth of Christ by a simple Italian monk named Francis of Assisi.
Traditions are the scaffolding of festivals: they have no place in legislation. Historically, however, when demagogues can find no logical reasons to bolster their claims to supremacy, they tap the blind tug of emotion. Saddam Hussein believed he was Nebuchadnezzar. He died ingloriously. So did others of his ilk because they peddled illusions as reality and then began to believe their own fables!
This column is about the destruction of such fairy tales and we’re happy to find that, at long last, civil society has found the courage to express itself against the dangers of political and administrative obtuseness. On 19 December,’19, the President of the Uttarakhand Hotel and Restaurant Association, Sandeep Sahni, made Rotarians aware of Mussoorie’s civic problems. Here are some points from his talk:-
1. Our peak season water requirements are 14MLD. We get only 7.6 MLD.
2. We have 4000 locally owned cars and taxis of which 2400 are parked on the roads, discouraging tourists.
3. Even in the off-season about 30 buses bring day-visitors to Mussoorie. They then return the same way causing traffic jams, endangering the historic building of the iconic Mussoorie Library. These buses should be diverted from Kempty Falls to Yamuna Bridge, Vikas Nagar, Dehradun and back to Haridwar.
4. The proposed ropeway from Dehradun to Mussoorie would bring in day visitors, primarily. They spend little but stress our endangered environment
5. When our town hall was envisaged, it was expected to hold a large reservoir which would meet the needs of its adjacent areas. The building is almost complete but there are no signs of the reservoir.
This meeting was also attended by the Chairman of the City Board as well as the SDM, so both the politicians and civil servants have been made aware of our problems.
Their mere “awareness” however, is not enough. Contradictory statements on Tourism have been attributed to our well-meaning Chief Minister. Clearly he has been wrongly advised by such vested interests as the, so-called, ‘developers’ lobby with their deep pockets and seemingly influential contacts in the bureaucracy particularly in the MDDA. Or else how can we account for the rampant over-building in Mussoorie? Or for the incomplete projects like the Jumna water supply scheme, the Sewage Treatment Plants, the haphazard attempts at handling seasonal traffic congestion, creating viable parking facilities, assessing the actual amount of water consumed by Mussoorie? Orm why the Jal Sansthan continues to believe that it is compelled to sanction all additional water connections in spite of knowing that it cannot meet our town’s existing needs?
We do hope that there will be more questions. The wave of student unrest across our land was the result of pent-up anger. A similar wave of civil disobedience in Uttarakhand will leave suppurating wounds which will not heal fast.