THE OTHER SIDE
Recently, the Khanpur MLA was re-inducted to the BJP, 13 months after being expelled after a viral video clip showed him making derogatory comments about the State and brandishing guns while dancing in a purportedly inebriated state. This move elicited criticism from opposition parties, one of which also went to the extent of staging a protest outside the BJP state office. Some others also voiced criticism questioning how a person who had spoken of the state in a derogatory manner could be taken back in the party. True, the MLA did not speak in a manner expected of a public representative and he has accepted that and apologised for it too. However, it is not difficult to see numerous examples of people in various fields who may be doing much worse than speaking about the state in a derogatory manner.
Many thousands of Indians struggled and many of them also sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle. One doubts whether the freedom fighters started a movement demanding extra benefits after the nation gained independence. The States of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were created in 2000. Twenty years later, there are many in Uttarakhand who are demanding pensions and jobs for having participated in the statehood movement. These people are in addition to those who have already received the said benefits. Was the statehood movement undertaken for creation of a separate state or to enable some people to secure pensions and government jobs? There are many statehood activists who refused to even get the official recognition and rejected the benefits on the grounds that they had participated in the movement mainly for creation of Uttarakhand state. However, for many, it is not only okay but also their right to demand extra benefits for having participated in the movement. It is another thing that this mentality has also been fuelled by politicians and has not really benefited either the state or society apart from a few individuals.
One cannot deny that there has been development since 2000 but the desired level and form of development still eludes the state. The current state government claims to be working with zero tolerance for corruption. Past governments too had claimed to be against corruption- any politician will make the same claim. It would be good to recall what a Madras High Court justice had observed last year while dismissing the plea of a village development officer suspended on allegations of corruption. “They are anti-nationals because they are obstructing the development of this great nation. Terrorists are declared as anti-social elements. Thus, persons corrupt and acting against the developmental activities of our nation are also to be declared as anti-nationals. These anti-nationals do not care about the development of this country but are only interested in their self-development,” justice SM Subramaniam had said.
It would be interesting to ascertain how many anti-nationals as observed by the judge are working in Uttarakhand. However, it would be unfair to blame only public servants for corruption because for various reasons, the citizens themselves allow corruption to continue.
These points assume more importance now as the political parties have started preparations and activities for the 2022 Assembly elections. It is nothing short of tragic that politics in the state-and also in other parts of India- is practised along blatantly undemocratic and dated concepts. If the chief minister is of a particular caste and from a particular region, the state president of the ruling party is a leader chosen from the other region and the other caste. Elected public representatives take their oath of office on the constitution of India and the citizens too are meant to follow the constitution. Considering this, is it logical to choose chief ministers, party state presidents and public representatives based on caste and geography or should the character and capability to deliver matter more? Is a politician from a particular region or caste expected to be biased or serve the interests of all citizens irrespective of their caste or district? Here again the politicians alone can’t be blamed because they are simply exploiting narrow mindedness and stereotypes to perpetuate dated systems that actually hamper the real progress of the state and the welfare of its people. As a result, resources are spent but the desired progress still eludes this mountain state. The native culture and languages of the state struggle to survive as cultural encroachment and perversions are actually encouraged in the name of development or attracting tourists. The government has taken some measures to preserve and encourage the state’s native culture but that is not enough. It is the culture of a society which decides the mentality of its people and their future to a considerable extent. So, as the political parties start their planned activities to elicit votes in the coming elections, we need to ask ourselves- are we ready to be fooled yet again?
Saturday, 29 August 2020 | Paritosh Kimothi | Dehradun
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