Uttarakhand > Development Issues - उत्तराखण्ड के विकास से संबंधित मुद्दे !

9 November - उत्तराखंड स्थापना दिवस: आएये उत्तराखंड के विकास का भी आकलन करे

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एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:

So far we only three votes have been cast on categoriies. All of them have voted 25 % development of Uttarakhand.

एम.एस. मेहता /M S Mehta 9910532720:


Let us assess the progress during these 7 yrs. 

पंकज सिंह महर:
A Tale of Two States

By Ramachandra Guha - The Daily Telegraph, November 18, 2000

In January 1939, a great adivasi mahasabha was held in the town of Ranchi. Twenty thousand people had assembled for the meeting, Oraons, Santhals, Hos and Mundas, as many women as there were men. This “vast crowd of people” had “gathered to vindicate their political rights”. The presidential address was delivered by Jaipal Singh, a 36-year-old Munda Christian who had taken a degree at Oxford and also played hockey for India. Jaipal was already known to the adivasis as their “marang gomke”, or supreme leader. In his speech at the Mahasabha he insisted that the tribals of Chhotanagpur had suffered grievously at the hands of Bengal and Bihar. The adivasi movement, said Jaipal, “stands primarily for the moral and material advancement of Chhotanagpur and the Santhal Parganas, for the economic and political freedom of the aboriginal tracts and, in sum, for the creation of a separate governor’s province...with a government and administration appropriate to its needs.” In “separation alone lies the salvation of Chhotanagpur.”

The record of Jaipal Singh’s speech, along with the memories of those who heard it, come to us courtesy the anthropologist, P.G. Ganguly, who in the late Fifties conducted an oral history of the adivasi mahasabha. Unfortunately, no comparable scholarly account exists of a public meeting held in the Terai town of Haldwani in the summer of 1946. It was at this meeting that the demand for a separate Uttarakhand state was first articulated. The main spokesman for the demand was the lawyer and political activist, Badridutt Pande, a man with 25 years of work in the service of his people. Known as Kumaun Kesari, Pande had previously led movements in defence of peasant forest rights and against the system of begar or forced labour in the hills.

This is the first similarity between Jharkhand and Uttarakhand: that behind their very recent creation lies a long history of often heroic struggle. Jaipal Singh continued the movement for a separate state after independence; the cause being taken up after his death by such leaders as Ram Dayal Munda, N.E. Horo, A.K. Roy, and Shibu Soren. The demand for a separate state of Uttarakhand was placed before the states reorganization committee of 1955. It was rejected, but in the Seventies and again in the Nineties the movement was renewed through protests, petitions, and demonstrations, with university students, boys as well as girls, in its vanguard.

Why did these movements take so long to bear fruition? In either case, the parent state was bitterly opposed to separation, for these areas provided it with abundant natural resources at low cost. The Chhotanagpur plateau and the central Himalaya are both rich in forest cover, mineral wealth, and hydro-electric potential. The politicians and businessmen of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar could not therefore allow the creation of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. In both areas there have been major social movements protesting against the loot of natural resources by outsiders. The best known of these movements is undoubtedly the chipko andolan, which was at its height in Garhwal and Kumaun in the Seventies. In Jharkhand, too, there have been struggles against unregulated mining, against commercial forestry, and against the siting of large dams.

In the late Seventies the adivasis protested vigorously against the conversion of their sal forests to teak plantations, a scheme intended to benefit urban consumers, timber merchants and the forest department. The protesters who uprooted the teak saplings suggested that sal means Jharkhand, sagwan (teak) means Bihar.

The third point of similarity is that in both these new states a longstanding popular struggle has been hijacked by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The people’s movement is associated in the one case with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, in the other with the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal. In both instances the BJP entered the struggle late, and opportunistically, but with its greater access to money and to power in the Centre, was able to attract to its side previously autonomous individuals and groups.

The Uttarakhand story, which I know better, is as follows. In 1994 the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, insisted that the recommendations of the Mandal commission would apply to Kumaun and Garhwal, although in these districts only two per cent of the population come from the backward castes. These areas have a fairly high proportion of Dalits, who already enjoy the benefit of reservation. However, about 70 per cent of the hill population is composed of Brahmins and Rajputs. Notably, in Uttarakhand these high castes are often poor and economically insecure, smallholder peasants who plough and cultivate the land themselves.

Mulayam Singh’s proposals which, if implemented, would deny local people jobs and also lead to an influx of state employees from the plains, evoked strong protests. In the summer of 1994 there were bandhs and dharnas aplenty. In two separate incidents, in Mussoorie and Khatima respectively, the UP police fired indiscriminately on a peaceful crowd. Thus far the movement had been led by organizations such as the UKD. But with the firings the BJP stepped in, and gave the struggle an unfortunate casteist overtone.

The national party offered itself as a protector of the high castes against the predatory Mulayam. The Uttarakhand movement had previously rested on different grounds: it stood against the exploitation of natural resources and the rule by indifferent or hostile politicians from the plains. Under saffron direction these older and more authentic reasons for statehood gave way to the poisonous rhetoric of caste. One incidental consequence of BJP leadership is that the older name for the state, Uttarakhand, has been replaced by Uttaranchal, this change made silently and in clear violation of popular desire.

A BJP tribal, rather than the charismatic Shibu Soren, is the new chief minister of Jharkhand. In Uttaranchal, the BJP has stoked discontent by appointing a plainsman, Nityanand Swami, in preference to a proper son of the soil. Being in power in the states’ early days might not be to the best advantage of the BJP. What they do will excite opposition, and in time popular movements might crystallize to recover the true voice of Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.

In both these states, to get rid of the interloper BJP shall be the first priority. What follows then is very much an open question. Will the heroes of grassroots protest, men such as Shibu Soren and Kashi Singh Aire of the UKD, re-invent themselves as calculating and greedy politicians once they come to power? Will they sanction the unsustainable exploitation of forests and minerals in the name of “progress”? Or will they, with the help of thoughtful advisers, put in place a transparent government and a welfare-oriented administration?

As a historian, I have followed these two struggles for many years. As a citizen, I shall now watch their future with nervous expectation. The creation of Jharkhand and Uttarakhand has been hard work: years of protest in which countless unselfish people have participated. One must now hope for models of governance and development that shall decisively set these states apart from the cronyism and corruption of UP and Bihar.

पंकज सिंह महर:
No reason to smile

By Subodh Ghildiyal - Deccan Herald - Dehra Dun, November 19, 2000


The people of UP hilly regions finally got what they wanted or almost wanted - Uttaranchal. But they still feel the Centre has let them down, for neither the chief minster nor the capital is what they asked for.

AS the chilly wind blew across the parade grounds in Dehradun and the clock struck twelve, symbols took over. People thronged the venue chanting "Jai Uttarakhand" (not Uttaranchal). Mr S S Barnala took the oath of office and slogans of "Raj karega Khalsa" from a mass of Sikhs from Uddham Singh Nagar rent the air. In contrast, a stunned silence greeted Nityanand Swami who took oath as the the first chief minister of the new state. And as the function ended, a mob of youth from the hills, instead of savouring the moment in peace, scaled the erected barricades and took over the dais. They were demanding Gairsain to be made the capital. "Jai Badri, Jai Kedar, Gairsain mein ho sarkar" they shouted full throat. Just a day before, men and women, who made the day a reality with their blood and sweat, strolled down the Dehradun roads in a "warning rally", alerting the government against letting down the aspirations of highlanders.

The hills had turned pensive on the day when the state of their dreams was carved out, partially thinking about the future, partially over what the people had aspired for and what they had got. In short, when the country at large thought that Uttaranchal's formation would mark the culmination of a historic movement, the activists from the verdant state were renewing their pledge to fight till they got the state, implying a state as they had conceived. It was a heavy dose of politics that brought about the creation of Uttaranchal. A Sikh was brought in by the Vajpayee government to allay the misplaced fears of the community in Uddham Singh Nagar, which felt that law will catch up with them in a new state. They have a lot to hide, the huge farmlands which make a mockery of the land ceiling laws and the fraudulent manner in which they had usurped the land of gullible tribals. The government may have taken recourse to the dangerous policy of appeasement using religion as a tool.

If there was nothing in a name, then the new state may well have been known as Uttarakhand, the name which brought together people from far-flung villages of Garhwal and Kumaon regions to press for statehood. Politics snared that emotional link. The changing of name, as natives feel, was a crude RSS-BJP attempt to appropriate a movement which was largely bereft of political support and was a result people's efforts. Far removed from the 'outsider' bogey raised by Garhwali and Kumaoni politicians to generate a hysteria in their favour, Swami's coronation is seen as an attempt to put a UP-friendly man at the helm so that the parent state does not face hard negotiations during the division of assets which will largely decide the future resources of the new state.

Given the compromises struck at various stages, Shamsher Singh Bisht, a leading light of the statehood agitation, declared: "Our struggle has to continue till we get what we had asked for." But for the moment, politics may have dealt a cruel blow to the hopes of Bharatiya Janata Party which had made the region its own by sweeping successive Lok Sabha and assembly polls on the statehood plank. Immediately after creating the state, when it should have been basking in the glory of fulfilling their longstanding promise, its central leadership let it down. Unable to sense the mood of its own legislators, the choice of Swami as chief minister incited a revolt in its ranks.

Though central intervention did save the day for Swami, he is not out of the woods yet. Within two days, there are as many as seven legislators who have raised a banner of revolt against him and are demanding his removal. It is going to be an uphill task for the BJP to manage these contradictions and emerge as a party of people, especially when hills have been a traditional Congress bastion which has leader like N D Tiwari with a large appeal.

Like the future of BJP, the coming days are going to be testing for the state itself. The manner in which Uttaranchal has shaped up belies the expectations on which the castles of a bright future were built. Given the unique problems of the region which required policies suitable to the geographical conditions with vast land but sparse population, it was thought that only a local administration could deliver the goods. However, fear of a bleak future stares the region in the face. And, ironically, their bugbear may be the two plains districts, Uddham Singh Nagar and Hardwar.

With a strong concentration of wealth and resources and a dense population, the two districts may take away a large number of assembly constituencies if the delimitation exercise is carried out without imagination and ignoring what kicked off the agitation and led the granting of statehood to the region. The present 23 assembly seats spread over 13 districts of Pauri, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Dehradun, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Nainital, Uddham Singh Nagar, Almora, Pithoragarh, Champawat and Bageshwar will be divided into 70. The highlanders, seeing the leeway given to the dominant voices from plains, are demanding that area and not population be made the criteria for delimitation. If population is considered, then a large number of seats will fall in the two districts and domination of plains, with their masters in Lucknow and Delhi, will show in the assembly. Such lopsided representation in the assembly will be a blow to the underprivileged of the hills.

The complexity of political scenario spills over to economy. Economists say the state has vast potential but needs help for the much-required initial thrust. The Centre's silence on granting special category status to Uttaranchal is disturbing the economists and local politicians. Reasons B K Joshi, noted economist, "The demand for Uttaranchal state arose when the Centre was all powerful but has been fulfilled in the times of liberalisation where state is not in a position to grant big packages to states." A special category state provides for central funds which are 90 per cent grant and 10 per cent loan. Else, it will be 70 per cent loan and 30 per cent grant. Mr Joshi says that hills have not got their due. "It was an unwritten understanding in the Planning Commission from seventh plan that the area and population of Uttaranchal hills was equal to Himachal Pradesh and the plan assistance to the two regions be equal. But after that plan, the party was not maintained and HP got much more than UP hills. One wonders if that can be corrected now. It is time for harsh decisions but political considerations and electoral compulsions of the ruling party may not allow the same. The CM has already appointed a 12-member ministry in a house of 30 members and there are pressures for its expansion. Political parties are also eyeing the surplus government posts for recruitment to woo the electorate. "It will only add to establishment costs.," says Mr Joshi. To the lack of political will may be lost an effective source of revenue in professional tax. With a booming service sector economy, this tax can be a boon. The trade tax estimate will be another source but threatens industrial migration from the foothills in Udham Singh Nagar. "They set up shop here to extract benefits from the government, given as incentive to lure industries to the hills. Now, they have to pay trade tax and feel that by moving just a few kilometres they can avoid that," says Mr Joshi.

Power generation, that hills will depend on in a big way for income, will take sometime. Says S S Pangtey, retired IAS officer, "Only 7 per cent of the total potential of 16500 MW power is being realised; after local consumption, 400 MW is surplus. After harnessing it to maximum, hills will have surplus power of 16000 MW." Saying that private investment will be needed to set up power projects, he feels the state should take up smaller projects first as they can be commissioned in three to five years. "The bigger projects have a long gestation period," he opines. But Mr Joshi feels another question to ponder over is whom to sell the power. "All the states are in the red. "Without the capital, chief minister and status that they had hoped for, the questions are aplenty. The answers few. And the times tough. Only time will tell if the hills have a reason to smile.

पंकज सिंह महर:
Round One to the Lobbyists, Politicians and Bureaucrats

By Biju Negi - Indian Express - Dehra Dun, January 2, 2001


AT MIDNIGHT, 8-9 November 2000, the twenty-seventh state of the country, Uttaranchal (née Uttarakhand) came into being. It was the fruition of a long-held demand, and a consequence of an unprecedented people’s movement over the last six years. The Uttarakhand movement was historic in which, at one time, virtually the entire populace was physically or emotionally agitating, and in an entirely peaceful manner. It was a movement of the people and by the people, with no role for the then politicians, who stood conspicuously rejected and isolated. In fact, it was a movement in which it was the leaders who followed the masses rather than the other way around.

And yet, the creation of the new state has not caused obvious elation among the people. By and large, no joy, no sense of achievement or fulfillment, and at best only a sense of relief. If one surveys the events leading up to the creation of this new state and the swearing in of its first Governor and Chief Minister, the entire exercise seems a great let down. The happenings of the last two months, since the formation of the state was announced, would suggest as if there was no such thing as the Uttarakhand movement. With a callous disregard for the sentiments of the people and of the emotional, physical and material sacrifices made by them, the BJP has pushed the movement to the sidelines, and in fact negated it. A party that hardly participated in the movement (and a governor who had earlier actually protested the creation of this new state) has behaved in a manner that suggested everyone else to 'keeps their hands off'. The party in power has not deemed it fit to share with the people the credit for the creation of the new state, lest it might have to share power with them. Given the political character and atmosphere in the country, one need not be surprised. But to make absolutely no mention of the many social and political groups that created and nurtured the movement, no reference to the youth, women – the matri shakti – or the ex-servicemen who kept the pressure on, and who through their sacrifices kept the flames of the movement from petering out, is a little bit thankless.

That the people do not matter, and only the party does is evident from the two acts by the BJP – one, the name given to the new state and two, Dehra Dun being made its capital, even if a temporary one.

The entire movement for this separate hill state, even when it was first seriously mooted in the early fifties, had always spoken about it as Uttarakhand, a name that had its genesis in the ancient lore and scriptures. It was indeed surprising that the BJP coined a new name Uttaranchal for this proposed state – a name it stuck to despite no popular support for it. This also gave rise to an often comical see-saw situation in Uttar Pradesh in the last decade or so. Every time BJP came to power in UP, the hill development department would be named Uttaranchal, but which would get immediately reverted to Uttarakhand when another party came to power in the state.

It is rather odd that for a party which considers itself the sole guardian of the country's heritage and culture, to have discarded the traditional in opting for the name Uttaranchal. BJP’s argument was that it did not believe in or support the idea of khand (piece or part of division), the concept of the country getting divided up. For the same reason, it had given the name Vananchal to Jharkhand, the last of the three new states created recently. Okay, if that was BJP’s point of view then fine. But the fact now that the name Jharkhand and not Vananchal has remained for that new state, weakens the BJP’s argument against the name Uttarakhand. From the response of the people, who largely continue to call the new state Uttarakhand, it is obvious that the moment another party comes to power in this new state, it is quite likely to consider the change in the state’s name to Uttarakhand.

Name apart, more worrying is the fact of having made Dehra Dun the capital of this new state, which only suggests that it is the writ of the politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and the mafia which has prevailed – and not the interests of the people nor the development of the hill region.

In the entire Uttarakhand movement, among the issues on which there was total consent - among the people and between the participating groups – was the location of the capital of the proposed new state at Gairsain. If at all one occasionally heard of Dehra Dun and Nainital being offered as choices (Kalagarh, Hardwar and others were never talked about then and have only now come into the picture), it was only by sections of the respective local residents with narrow vision or interests.

One of the major gains of the Uttarakhand movement was the break-up of a part fact, part fiction psychological barrier, which existed between the people of Garhwal and Kumaon. And Gairsain was symbolic of the coming together of the two communities, which had hitherto been assumed to nurse a bias against each other and engage in sometimes petty rivalry. By now making Dehra Dun the capital and not announcing the location for the permanent capital of new state, the government has undone this gain of the Uttarakhand movement, and has actively sought to drive a fissure between the two communities.

The choice of Gairsain, located in a valley close to the border between Garhwal and Kumaon, would be true to the character of a hill state, and would have been only appropriate – the capital of a hill state being in the hills. And since development was the raison d'être of the basic demand for a separate hill state, the selection of Gairsain as the capital would have meant that the common hill folk would likely be placed at the centre of planning and development. But now, by opting for Dehra Dun, the government has sent all the wrong signals.

Dehra Dun, adjoining the plains, is easily already the most developed area in the new state. In fact, short of industrialization, Dehra Dun counted among the most advanced places in even the erstwhile Uttar Pradesh. The new state starts with a financial disadvantage, and there is every chance that the lion’s share of whatever economic assistance comes its way will get concentrated in or cornered by Dehra Dun. It is quite like helping the rich get richer, while the poor remain poor, if not actually get poorer.

The people are already beginning to ask – so what is the difference from what we were earlier? That, if Dehra Dun had to be the capital then what was wrong with Lucknow in the first place? Dehra Dun, with its plains bias, would be just as ignorant or unconcerned of the problems of the hills. The migrant Uttarakhandi in Delhi and other places, particularly its youth, who continue to leave their villages in large number and who could have entertained the thought of returning home with hopes of development, are now more likely to have second thoughts.

At the same time, Dehra Dun, which once boasted a year-round equitable climate, had a thick green cover and ample water resources, is already bursting at its small, sensitive seams. The orchards of delicious, juicy litchi have all but vanished from the town area. And the outskirts of the town, where the air used to be laden with the fragrance of the basmati, are being gobbled up by residential construction activities at a fast pace. The locals know that the basmati now selling in the town actually originates in Saharanpur and even Punjab, and is a far cry from the original that used to grow in the town.

The aroma has now largely been replaced by the fumes of vehicular traffic, which the town’s narrow congesting roads, make the Dehra Dun town among the worst polluted in the country. That it has now become the capital of the new state is only going to worsen the situation.

However, the most worrying factor is that Dehra Dun and its adjoining areas have in the last decade seen strong infiltration from adjoining regions now outside the state. And this infiltration is not the kind that might be welcomed. The town has become a stronghold of an established mafia – particularly dealing in land and liquor, and spreading its wings in other areas as well. It would be in the interest of such people – and of the bureaucrats and the politicians, who would rather not go uphill to a place yet to be developed - that Dehra Dun be the capital, for they could then call all the shots and also spread their influence in other parts of Uttarakhand.

The government might defend itself by saying that Dehra Dun is only the interim capital, but the common man feels short-changed and fears (in fact, knows) that the capitals do not change easily. It didn't change in the case of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. It hasn’t happened as yet in the case of Chandigarh. In fact, the Uttarakhand government has already stopped stressing that Dehra Dun is only the temporary capital. Nityanand Swamy, the state’s first Chief Minister, now says that a Commission will be set up to look into the question of the permanent capital, which cements the doubts of the people. Cleverly, he avoids using the name of Gairsain and has only sought to confuse the issue and compound the problem by naming several more locations as options.

Already close to Rs 50 crores have been spent or are proposed to be spent on Dehra Dun, much of it on unnecessary sprucing up. With this amount, a worthwhile beginning could have been made in Gairsain itself. But it is an old ploy. The government does it always. In the region itself, it has employed this ploy in the case of the Tehri dam. Despite protests and the matter then pending in the courts, the authorities continued to spend so much on the dam that after a while that expenditure itself became the reason for the dam to continue. And the authorities then began arguing that the dam couldn't possibly be stopped now when so much had already been spent on it! The lobbies – bureaucrats, politicians and the mafia - with their interests vested in Dehra Dun will do the same to retain it as Uttarakhand’s capital.

It is obvious, the birth of the new state means that people’s struggle has not ended but must continue. In fact, now more than ever, the people need to be more aware, more concerned. For, until now, one was supposedly battling an alien plain’s prejudice and a Lucknow rule. Now the fight would be located in the home itself, and the adversaries would be one’s own people. This would be an infinitely bigger challenge and a more difficult task – creating a dilemma similar to what troubled Arjun. To resolve this dilemma, the people would need to fall back on the words of Lord Krishna in the Gita. If the new state has to have any meaning for the common hill folk, if it has to be the hill state that it was envisioned to be rather than a beleaguered version of the erstwhile Uttar Pradesh then the people will have to remain vigilant, move centre stage and battle on.

As the cliché would go, the battle for Uttarakhand may have been won, but certainly not the war.


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