In Uttarakhand, the Congress and the BJP were in power one after the other but the faces of chief ministers (photo: Harish Rawat) kept changing as if party the high commands were shuffling a pack of cards(PTI)
In Uttarakhand, the Congress and the BJP were in power one after the other but the faces of chief ministers (photo: Harish Rawat) kept changing as if party the high commands were shuffling a pack of cards(PTI)

Who says smaller states don’t face all-round injustice in the country?

Clearly Delhi doesn’t bother about smaller states because they don’t send too many MPs to the Parliament. The apathy of governments forces our soldiers to shed their blood from Manipur to Kashmir.
By Shashi Shekhar
UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2017 10:46 PM IST

If you glance through the headlines of newspapers and television news, you’ll realise 70% of the media discourse is devoted to Uttar Pradesh and 25% to Punjab. States such as Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur never feature in mainstream politics and the media.

Who says smaller states don’t face all-round injustice in the country?

Let me begin with Uttarakhand which is close to my heart. It seems the state is living out a contradiction. Entrepreneurs and job-seekers want to encourage tourism in the state. The place has the natural resources to attract tourists. But the facilities are abysmal. When tourists visit, they return home complaining of lack of facilities. On top of it, they have to pay through their nose for accommodation, eating out and sightseeing. A tourism industry insider says Uttarakhand’s three-star hotels ask for higher tariffs from tourists than many five-star hotels in cities such as Bangkok.

Read: Full coverage of assembly elections

The lack of facilities is apparent the moment one crosses the Uttarakhand border. Governments have come and gone but a four-lane highway from Delhi to Dehradun or Nainital remains a dream. While roaming through the mountains and lowlands of Kumaon, I discovered that as soon as one talks about tourism, people begin complaining about tough regulations related to the industry and tourism-related regulatory bodies. I asked many people if tourism itself dries up, then who will come to Uttarakhand? The only way to prevent this is to ensure that the state allocates adequate funds for tourism, but that is not happening. For instance, hundreds of trees between Haridwar and Dehradun were cut with the promise that an even greater number of saplings will be planted. The area was ostensibly cleared to build a four-lane highway. The trees were cut but the highway is nowhere in sight.

It is true that the common man, to uphold whose rights Uttarakhand was created, is deprived on all counts. Entire villages are becoming vacant. There are no roads, no electricity, no water and no sign of employment. A large chunk of the hill population is sustained by the ‘money-order economy.’ Owing to the paucity of local jobs, the youngsters are keen to join the army and paramilitary forces. But everybody isn’t fortunate enough to wear the coveted uniform. Under the pressure of unemployment, they have to make ends meet working in neighbouring states. The ‘money-order economy’ can help fill your stomach, but it also encourages the migration of the masses.

Read: Manipur BJP banking on this former footballer-editor for election win

It is often alleged that regional parties have established the loot raj in many states of India and that only national parties can provide clean administration. Uttarakhand has given a resounding response to this flawed logic. Here the Congress and the BJP were in power one after the other but the faces of chief ministers kept changing as if party the high commands were shuffling a pack of cards.

The last government appointed Bhuvan Chandra Khandhuri as chief minister. Halfway through his tenure, he was removed and was replaced by Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’ but on the eve of elections, Khanduri was again roped in and given power. Owing to this tragicomic game of musical chairs, the Congress sensed an opportunity to assume power and grabbed it. First Vijay Bahuguna was appointed chief minister and soon he was replaced by Harish Rawat. The manner in which these leaders shifted their political loyalties made it clear that they were only concerned with securing their own seats.

Clearly, they were going with the orders of the high command. But in the process the common man was feeling like a political orphan.

Let us now talk about Manipur. Just like Uttarakhand, this state, too, is blessed with extraordinary natural beauty. But the conditions are even worse. The reason: Separatist violence and insurgency. Many years ago, doing a recce of its inhospitable terrain, I had to face a number of challenges. The locals addressed us as ‘Indians’ and viewed the armed forces with distrust. The governments in Manipur have been victims of their own tribal complexes and the whims of the Centre in Delhi. As a result, the people of the state have been caught between the government and separatists. Fear, hunger and insurgency have driven the young to drugs and other forms of substance abuse. The young need trust more than they need guns. But it is easier said than done. Insurgency is an organised industry here. Government agencies, prominent citizens of the state and politicians of all hues have a stake in it.

Read: Women play important role in hilly districts of Uttarakhand

I won’t elaborate much on Goa. Compared to these two states, it faces fewer problems, but the credit for that goes to its history and culture and not to its state governments.

Those leaders making emotion-filled speeches about Punjab often say it is a sensitive border state. Why do they tend to ignore the other three states that are also located dangerously close to international borders? Clearly Delhi doesn’t bother about smaller states because they don’t send too many MPs to the Parliament. The apathy of governments forces our soldiers to shed their blood from Manipur to Kashmir.

These states are indispensable parts of the Indian Republic. Being on the border, they are also our natural guardians. Ignoring them can prove to be a perilous proposition.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan

letters@hindustantimes.com

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
It takes courage to push a conversation that evokes almost zero public sympathy in an audience that is inclined to believe that consent has no place on the marital bed(Shutterstock)
It takes courage to push a conversation that evokes almost zero public sympathy in an audience that is inclined to believe that consent has no place on the marital bed(Shutterstock)

The conversation India refuses to have

By Namita Bhandare
UPDATED ON JAN 08, 2021 08:01 PM IST
In the past few years, India has broken traditional silences on sexual abuse, on consent, and on the rights of sexual minorities. It’s time to break another traditional silence
Close
What other, newer democracies find relatively easy — conducting an election, the counting of votes, the peaceful transition of power — seems to have befuddled the US. There can be and must not be any normalisation of gross prejudice or violence(AP)
What other, newer democracies find relatively easy — conducting an election, the counting of votes, the peaceful transition of power — seems to have befuddled the US. There can be and must not be any normalisation of gross prejudice or violence(AP)

After anarchy in the US, reimagining the middle ground

UPDATED ON JAN 08, 2021 07:53 PM IST
Governments have to learn how to engage with those who did not vote for them. Citizens have to learn how to converse amidst ideological divisions
Close
Mohammed Siraj led India’s breakthrough in the ongoing tour of Australia. But he grew up playing tennis ball cricket and first held a real cricket ball only five years ago.(Getty Images)
Mohammed Siraj led India’s breakthrough in the ongoing tour of Australia. But he grew up playing tennis ball cricket and first held a real cricket ball only five years ago.(Getty Images)

The secret weapons of a fast-bowling nation

By Rudraneil Sengupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 08, 2021 03:31 PM IST
Surprise finds are making their mark in the India bowling line-up, but they aren’t coming up through the system.
Close
A New York street in the 1920s. Just two decades earlier, in the age of horse-drawn vehicles, people had feared their cities would be buried in manure. Then the internal combustion engine took horses off the streets altogether, a shift often used to illustrate the unpredict-able fallouts of new tech.(Shutterstock)
A New York street in the 1920s. Just two decades earlier, in the age of horse-drawn vehicles, people had feared their cities would be buried in manure. Then the internal combustion engine took horses off the streets altogether, a shift often used to illustrate the unpredict-able fallouts of new tech.(Shutterstock)

The horseshit paradox: Why fears about tech are wildly exaggerated

By Charles Assisi | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 08, 2021 03:11 PM IST
Our world runs on complexity. And no machine we have created — or look likely to create — can truly navigate that complexity by itself, says Charles Assisi.
Close
It is no surprise that all kinds of protests are being seen in many parts of the world at the moment(SHUTTERSTOCK)
It is no surprise that all kinds of protests are being seen in many parts of the world at the moment(SHUTTERSTOCK)

This decade will be decisive for democracy, capitalism

By Shashi Shekhar
UPDATED ON JAN 03, 2021 10:07 PM IST
There is another fact which needs attention. Human civilisation has always discovered new light in the darkest days of crisis. With this hope, let us welcome this new decade.
Close
A vibrant corporate capitalist base also leads to additional revenues for the State — which, in turn, can be used for greater welfare for the marginalised and creating a more level-playing field in terms of opportunities(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
A vibrant corporate capitalist base also leads to additional revenues for the State — which, in turn, can be used for greater welfare for the marginalised and creating a more level-playing field in terms of opportunities(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

In defence of reformed capitalism

PUBLISHED ON JAN 02, 2021 07:05 PM IST
Targeting corporate capitalism won’t help. It is essential for growth and democracy. Focus on reforming it.
Close
A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with a Covid-19 vaccine, Lima, December 9, 2020(AFP)
A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with a Covid-19 vaccine, Lima, December 9, 2020(AFP)

A robust public broadcaster can guard against anti-vaccine rumours

By Mark Tully
PUBLISHED ON JAN 02, 2021 07:02 PM IST
There seems no reason to doubt that a large number of Indians are, to say the least, undiscriminating in the source of news they chose to watch. This will make them liable to fall prey to false information which can undermine the vaccination campaign.
Close
The silence and loneliness of being on my own is no longer intimidating. In fact - and I know that sounds a little perverse – I’ve enjoyed it. So this morning I feel I don’t want to lose it. At least, not completely.(HTPHOTO)
The silence and loneliness of being on my own is no longer intimidating. In fact - and I know that sounds a little perverse – I’ve enjoyed it. So this morning I feel I don’t want to lose it. At least, not completely.(HTPHOTO)

Goodbye to all that? I’m not so sure

UPDATED ON JAN 02, 2021 06:55 PM IST
The honest truth – and you’ve probably guessed it by now – is that I’m going into 2021 with a little trepidation or, if that’s too strong a word, more than a touch of hesitation.
Close
n many ways, Modi’s economic vision resembles that of the United Kingdom prime minister Margaret Thatcher and the United States President Ronald Reagan. Both faced an avalanche of opposition to their push for economic reforms(PTI)
n many ways, Modi’s economic vision resembles that of the United Kingdom prime minister Margaret Thatcher and the United States President Ronald Reagan. Both faced an avalanche of opposition to their push for economic reforms(PTI)

Farm stir: Latest attempt to stop Modi’s reforms

By Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda
PUBLISHED ON JAN 01, 2021 08:06 PM IST
The Opposition may continue to denigrate him, but millions see in the PM a rare determination and willingness to take risks and cleanse the rot
Close
US President-elect Joe Biden in Delaware, December 29, 2020(REUTERS)
US President-elect Joe Biden in Delaware, December 29, 2020(REUTERS)

Biden has no record of missteps on India

PUBLISHED ON JAN 01, 2021 08:06 PM IST
With the Chinese amassing troops along the border, Indians want to see more, even as they acknowledge that the US will not conduct its foreign policy to please India, echoing a Democratic congressional aide who is normally sympathetic to India but is frustrated by “constant pushing on China”.
Close
Ancient calendars could be intricate, beautiful, but confusing. Above is a section of the ancient Mayan calendar.(Shutterstock)
Ancient calendars could be intricate, beautiful, but confusing. Above is a section of the ancient Mayan calendar.(Shutterstock)

Lend me your years: How the Indian National Calendar came into being

By Rachel Lopez | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 02, 2021 08:29 PM IST
See how, back in 1955, an elite team headed by astrophysicist Meghnad Saha untangled India’s confusing variety of almanacs.
Close
An aangan in an old home in Mehrauli, New Delhi. A fixture since the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the courtyard faded away with the coming of Western-style architecture during colonial rule.(Mayank Austen Soofi)
An aangan in an old home in Mehrauli, New Delhi. A fixture since the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the courtyard faded away with the coming of Western-style architecture during colonial rule.(Mayank Austen Soofi)

Poonam Saxena writes on the true heart of the Indian home, the aangan

By Poonam Saxena | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 01, 2021 07:04 PM IST
It now lives on largely in books and film, but the courtyard was where we cooked, celebrated, slept under the stars on summer nights.
Close
After a traumatic and turbulent 2020, it’s time to ring in a New Year with hope. And since Rabindranath Tagore is being rediscovered by our netas ahead of the Bengal elections, this is a prayer for India in 2021 that draws inspiration from the great poet-laureate.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
After a traumatic and turbulent 2020, it’s time to ring in a New Year with hope. And since Rabindranath Tagore is being rediscovered by our netas ahead of the Bengal elections, this is a prayer for India in 2021 that draws inspiration from the great poet-laureate.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

A ‘new’ India can’t be built by abandoning the core values of our founding fathers

UPDATED ON JAN 01, 2021 06:01 AM IST
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Where an Indian identity is determined by citizenship, and not divided by the narrow domestic walls of caste, region or religion. Where true secularism demands that no state authority promote or discriminate against any religion, where equal respect for all faiths must be the basis of our constitutional secularism.
Close
The farmers’ protest may be geographically limited, but the ripples it has caused are international.(ANI)
The farmers’ protest may be geographically limited, but the ripples it has caused are international.(ANI)

The year is almost over, but scars will remain

By Shashi Shekhar
PUBLISHED ON DEC 27, 2020 06:13 PM IST
The year 2020 will be known as a year of bias, discontent, isolation and apprehensions. These can be brushed away by blaming the pandemic, but the virus merely amplified existing tendencies.
Close
The argument Covid-19 did not permit the session is specious. For a start, Parliament’s earlier functioning disproves it. The monsoon session was held in September when daily cases crossed 95,000. So how can a situation when the increase has reduced to under 25,000 be a credible reason for not holding the winter session?(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
The argument Covid-19 did not permit the session is specious. For a start, Parliament’s earlier functioning disproves it. The monsoon session was held in September when daily cases crossed 95,000. So how can a situation when the increase has reduced to under 25,000 be a credible reason for not holding the winter session?(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Parliament should sit more often

UPDATED ON DEC 26, 2020 07:36 PM IST
The bigger moral argument rests on the belief Parliament is special. It represents our nation. It speaks for us and symbolises our resolve. So if the temple of our democracy ducks the challenge of functioning in a time of the virus what’s the example it sets for the rest of us and what’s the message it sends to the world beyond our borders?
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP