What Ails My Dear Himachal

There is saying in Hindi “Kutte ki haddi ka sawaal hai”. There was a dog which found a dry bone of some animal lying in jungle. He picked it up happily and sat in secluded place and started chewing it. There was nothing inside the bone. But the dog continued to chew it and his gums started bleeding. The taste of blood satisfied the dog. He continued to chew the bone and enjoy the taste of his own blood.

This is the condition of an ordinary Himachali at present. He is satisfied with the taste of his own blood oblivious of the fact that it is his own blood he is sucking. Today we find that the powers that may be, are happy with surveys of Indian states and results thereof. It has been concluded that Himachal is the happiest state in the Union of India. It will be. As I said above that Himachalis are happy sucking their own blood.

India attained freedom in the year 1947 and Himachal became a full fledged state in 1971 if I am not wrong. All the states had an agenda of their progress but Himachal had none. There was no agenda of bringing the state at par, if not more than, the neighboring states of Punjab, J&K and Haryana. We had no plans for development. We never had any vision as to how our state could become a developed state. Our Himachalis continued to struggle on individual basis for their upliftment . As a result we continued to flee to plains to find greener pastures. Thereby becoming displaced persons. Today one can find huge Himachali populations in Delhi, Chandigarh and even Bombay. They are not settled there out of choice, but out of their helplessness to find even the basic amenities in our beloved state. We look back towards Himachal with longing and ache in our heart. Can an old man of sixty think of going back to Himachal and settle there for good ? No. Definitely not.

The reason is not far to seek. If he falls sick he has to be rushed to PGI Chandigarh or some private hospitals in Punjab. Can an average Himachali afford to do so ? No. And so he dies unattended in some remote village. Why so ? Himachal has the best climate for recuperating from diseases, but lacks medical facilities. Today Himachal could have been a Health state with a number of state of art hospitals. We have none. Thanks to poor vision of our leadership in sixties, seventies and even till today. Even now we are finding hospitals mushrooming in dirty climates of Punjab and Delhi but not in Himachal. Half the illness of any person could be cured by the climate itself provided a person gets quality medical attention here.

Then one can see the pathetic condition of transportation in Himachal. One has to see the condition of national highway from Pathankot to Manali, to get the idea of transport system in our state. This Highway came into prominence during Indo – China conflict in 1962, when the army used it to carry heavy artillery to Lahul Spiti. After the conflict was over, this highway lost its importance notwithstanding the fact that it is till date the only road which can be effectively used by the Army to check any nefarious designs of China. But who cares. Perhaps one should wish that another war breaks out between India and China so that this highway gets his due from the NHAI. This is just one road. No other road can be said to be of standard except Simla Chandigarh road. But of course it is utilized by all the big wigs to visit Delhi and Chandigarh.

The less said about the railways is better. British Government built two railway lines during the Raj. One to Shimla for the obvious reason that they wanted it for shifting their capital during summers to Shimla. The second line was built from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar in 1918. Since then neither it has been broadened by a single inch nor extended by a single inch. One could see the proceedings of Railway Budgets in Parliament from 1950 onwards. There have been no demand raised by Himachal Members of Parliament for providing rail facilities to this state. This despite the fact that there had been MP’s from Congress as well as opposition parties, sitting out the discussions on railway budget year after year. There can be trains to Laloo’s in laws village but none for Himachal. Then the trains were extended to Jammu after that state persuade the Centre for providing railway line to it. The trains which used to terminate at Pathankot were suddenly not even touching Pathankot. One can only see the plight of our Defense personnel coming home for annual leaves, carrying their luggage on their heads from Chakki Bank to Pathankot, to gauge the neglect of welfare of our people. Who is to blame ? Centre ? Yes to some extent that they are not looking after the interests of Himachal and our facilities are being sacrificed to appease non appeasable Kashmiris. Thousands of crores are being spent to take train to Srinagar. At whose cost ? At our cost. This will give a big boost to their economy and increase their tourism potential. We will lose whatever little tourist traffic we have. But who cares. Perhaps the Himachali youth have to take to arms to get the attention of centre, and I assure you that they are quite capable of that. Our MP’s are happy singing praises of railway budgets year after year. They forget that in India the basic fundamental of development is railway. We have climate where we can grow anything that is grown on this planet. But where do we take it for marketing in the absence of basic transport facility of railway ?

Friends I will tell you more if only you have time to listen to. Why our Electricity Board is not getting its due from other states? Why our people whose lands have been submerged under water by big dams, providing irrigation facilities and power to other states, are begging for aid from centre for their very day to day survival?

14 Comments

  • Dear Ravi Thakur Ji,
    I agree with you on lots of these issues. I think the root cause of these problems is the lack of leadership at state level. No I am talking about lack of leaders, they are plenty of them when it comes to fighting elections at National, State,or even gram panchayat level but the true leaders that represent the people of Himachal. As a result there is nobody to fight for the people of our state. Center is aware of demands of the people but turn a deaf ear towards us because there is nobody to stand against them and threaten to pull support from the government. I am sure the all capable officers in railway ministry do allocate budget for Himachal but our politicians like Lalu ji are selfish enough to divert the money to his state and to villages of his relatives. Again, nobody to stand against them. Perhaps the solution does not lie in our political leadership. The answer may lie within ourselves. We as citizens have to take this up. The idea is to bring the problems in front of the nation and more importantly the people of India. A true representation of the people should be created. They can represent people of Himachal in media and other govt. institutions. Media has become so powerful that it has the capability to divert attention of our mighty political leadership towards anything. We should identify 10 problems from the state and try to broadcast them at all levels. I have already written letters to News channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN and awaiting their response. We can use the power of media to publish our problems in various news channels, newspapers, blogs and other NGO publications. The start is to identify our basic demands. I can think about some of them:

    1. Lack of proper medical facilities.
    A hospital with the facilities like PGI is a must in every district.
    2. Reforms in Education
    Education should be linked to mainstream system of the whole country. More professional institutes are a must.
    3. Technology for people
    Help people in agriculture and other small scale industries with help of technology.
    4. Infrastructure Development
    This includes roads, railways, bridges etc. Our people should be better connected to cities.

    I am sure there are many more and can be added by other readers.

  • Dear Mr. Mandhotra Ji,
    Thank you for joining us/myHimachal. We have a lot time to listen you. We can do a lot if people like you keep guiding us.
    Thanks once again
    With best regards
    Sanjeev Awasthi

  • Dear Sir,

    We the farmers of fifteen villages (main Parnoh /ladoh/Panchrukhi etc) would request to draw your kind attention towards the irrigation problem being faced by us on a day to day basis.. A large part of the land is dependent on rain only but during off season this water is available on rivers and nullahs but since there being no storage facility or proper irrigation system there is no use of this precious water which is simply wasted. Although one “khul” is present but since its quite old it is getting eroded and destroyed day by day.

    We have earlier approached the previous Irrigation Minister of Himachal BJP GOVT and even have written a letter to Mr. Shanta Kumar, former cabinet minister .We have Also approached our local MLA but no action has been taken and all the requests have been fallen into deaf ears. It was also requested with the previous Himachal Government that they don’t need to do a lot but can simply give new look “khull” in the pattern of “Plampur Bandla to Bhawara and Charmanti khull which leads to Baijnath to Chobu Chobbeen area..

    After being left disappointed from all quarters. We have approached the local print median, “ PUNJAB KESARI “.As a responsible partner they had Published the matter in their editorial and in the special column, “Himachal government Dhyan de” but its so unfortunate that the irresponsible government doesn’t even bother about all these.

    After being dejected from all quarters we are approaching the present Government who we all know is a well wisher of the farmer community and doing a lot of work In our area..

    We request you to kindly take this important issue and think about our problem and sort out this hard faced problem in some way or the other.

    Your early action would not only help the farmers in increasing their productivity but would also help the unemployed youths of the village to start some Self employment venture in the agricultural sector which is fast decaying due to lackadaisical attitude of the government.

    Yours truly,

    Satish Kumar Sharma
    Village Ladoh Post office Panchruhkhi
    Teh Palampur Kangra H.P 176103

  • Ravi Ji,

    As you can see everyone has interest to fight for our basic issues, we never had a forum where we can at least blow the horn. People like you need to come forward and guide our younger generation. You have given your life for the motherland and we are just trying to find ways to help in peaceful environment. However worst ever politics which prevails all across the globe is taking toll on younger generation and now with guidance from seniors like you, we would like to show what we are capable of! So not only we are here to listen but also to act!

  • I only want to say that my visit to Kullu Valley and Spiti were the absolute highlight travels of my life and I wish to go back every year. Last year, on my way to the Himalayas I got chikun gunya and spent months in bed and resting so could not make it back up there. I hope to go again to what I feel as the most wonderful place on earth!

    I appreciate your article as it gives me a better understanding of the problems faced, that I did not know about. What a dilemma that the most beautiful and joyous place I know of on earth has such problems.

    I agree that the solutions should come from within.

  • It is not leadership that is lacking. India has plenty of leaders whose only interest was to line their pocket. Anytime you give anyone power over to others, you are not longer in control of your own destiny. With limited tax base and resources, there is only so much can be done.
    As far as what Himachal should be doing in the future. With global warming. At first the rivers will overflow and then dry out. So if you think we have water problem now. just wait and do nothing for another 50 years. Population of Himachal is going to swell as more and more people come from other states there already a lot of seasonal labor coming from other states. There should be planning regarding all the out of state cars that are clogging all the tourist hot spots.
    It seems like with Europe missing out on skiing, they have decided to come over to Himachal. Skiing may bring some dollars but it is also a very harmful exercise just to cater to the rich people.
    Environmental concerns should be the top priority because once tourist spots are ruined by over use.
    They are not coming back. Instead of Railways, it is better to have light railways. Himachal does not have place for industrial zone or even Metros but that is not going stop all the corporations and politician into trying to copy failed schemes. May be Himachal could copy Swiss as it has same kind of constraints. If Himachal wants high tech medicine that requires high tech universities which also requires major corporations to come in suck the blood from people. I mean what does modern medicine purport to solve just life style diseases. It doesn’t cure anything just enough to give false hope. Is this what you are asking for. What ever TV says you need to be happy. Corporations are only going to do what they have done in the west. Does anyone here can say that things will turn out different. If you don’t prepare for effect of global warming and peak oil, you are just spinning in circle.
    When you rely on either Government or Corporations, the people are not the ones that get the benefit. It is those who can manipulate the system for their own benefit. All the past is just fond memories and the future will turn just by wishing. how long must we sing the same old some, and someone else can come and say no progress has been made in 20 years.

  • I am really impressed to read the artcile of Mr Mandhotra which has really thoughts for introspection but the main issue is how to address these issues in the Government level. Our Govt claims No.1 in Health, Prosperity and Governance.

    These issues can be addressed by forming a strong NGO with an objective to make this State “Heaven”.

    Subhash Thakur

  • I am overwhelmed by the response to my article. I must thank all for reading my article and commenting on it. But above all I must thank Avnish for introducing me to this site. Thanks Elena, Pankaj, Rajnish and Swadesh.
    Thakur

  • As Rajnish said, it is circle and of course it is vicious circle! But then we also need to keep trying and this is all we are doing here, we are trying with a good heart. And whatever with our limited resources we can do, we should do that. After all, this would keep the hopes alive.

    As Subhash said, we need a strong NGO, I would say for sure a strong Himachali organization, a collective approach. A TEAM work and united approach, then only we can fight major issues. There are more than 32000 NGOs in HP as of now!

    If we wont work in collective manner people would utilize us. If one person starts something, there would be another to beat that. Problem is that you would find disgruntled people on both sides and we end up working for their causes instead of real issues. From start I have reiterated that we can do all this with collective approach, I hope all understand my point.

  • Dear Mandhotra ji,
    By going through your views about Himachal, I recall a story; once a painter placed one of his paintings at a place and asked the viewers to write their comments about the painting in a note-book kept nearby. Every body saw the painting and wrote the shortcomings in the adjoining book. Soon the big note book was filled up with comments and criticism.
    Next day the same painter placed one brush and paint near the painting and requested the viewer to rectify the shortcomings in the painting with the brush and paint.–No body did that.
    Please dont think otherwise, but I am against the blind criticism of people who were involved in the policy making of the state. I feel among all the hilly states (geographically difficult) in India, Himachal is one of the the most developed state today, but I agree there is much more to do. I strongly feel we need to impart a sense of belongingness and attachement towards our state in ourselves and most importantly in our children. I know Himachalis as individulas are progressing in our state leap and bound where as the Himachal as a state is not progressing in the same proportion. The reason is very simple when you join as HAS your aim is to please Politicians and nothing to do with development of state, when u become Engineer in PWD u take all cement to your house and use sand for poor Himachal Pradesh. when u become doctor u dont want to serve the villages ( which is real Himachal) when u bocome teacher you are more intrested in furlow leaves than teaching, when you join police department u want to scare innocent people rather than helping them, when u become advocate u like people to commit more crimes, when you sit in a bus you tear the seat, when you go for walking in the night u love to break street lights by throwing stones, u love to take away anything which belong to Himachal Goverment to your house. But when u dont get a Job then u start talking about honesty because u dont have a scope for corruption like your neighbours and relatives. My view is let us not blame others and start practising honesty, truthfullness, non violence, hardwork, sincerety, patriotism, impartiality first from ourselves and our family. Let us think first about our state and then next about our house. I promise you when 60% of Himachali start practising this thought Himachal will be most prosperous and examplary state in INDIA.
    By saying so I not at all want to hurt you mandhotra ji, in fact i appreciate you for raising such an issue that makes peole peep within themselves.
    Regards
    Mukesh Bhandari

  • Dear Mukesh ji,
    I appreciate what you say. Yes we must muse and see inside first. There is a saying that when you point a finger towards anyone, your three fingers are pointing towards you. I stand corrected.
    Actually I am not trying to blame others, but trying to highlight the basic problems of My Himachal. Why I am targetting the railways is simple. Have you tried to grow flowers in Himachal ? There is no flower in the world that can not be grown in our state. But where do we take it for marketing ? No one from the plains would like to travel in most uncomfortable buses to come to Himachal for seeing our products. And I assure you the buyers do not use planes or buses for transporting the products.
    But for almost half a century the politicians have not done anything in this direction. Had this been done you would not have seen all Faujis walking from Chakki Bank to Pathankote keeping their luggage on their heads with children in tow. Nor our products would have remained unmarketed.
    This is simply to make thinking people aware of root causes of My Himachal lagging behind.
    I donot agree with you thyat Himachal is mors developed than other Hilly states. You should see the roads in J&k, Uttaranchal and Sikkim.
    Thanks for giving time to read the post. Hoping to hear from you again.
    With kind regards,
    Thakur Ravi Singh Mandhotra

  • Hi Mandhotra ji,
    I appreciate your views. But I feel people like us who has ability to think and feel the problems shall not waste time and energy in discussing problems rather we shall channelise our energy in thinking in tems of finding SOLUTIONS. let us stop blaming the politicians because I believe they are just a reflection of our society, they are not aliens they are a part of us, they are also brought up in the same society and culture as we do, then why we expect them to be different than ourselves? if we are given a chance to serve as politician what different we could do? in the whole world no country is free from corruption but of course degree of it varies. I have felt developing countries suffer more from corruption than developed nations. in a developing country biggest issue is the budget deficit. when they have limited budget they have to prioritize the things base on different factors. I think developing Railway infrastructure in HP was not considered as important than it is required in densly populated states of countries like Bihar, UP, Maharashta etc where railway is the lifeline of masses. I think when water (develpment) flows first it will fill the ditches once the ditches will be filled then it flows to the rest of the part, in a similar way india has to prioritize in its list of development the much hungry and starving states than Himachal (which is by the grace of God is free from beggars and destitutes). This is one issue please let me know your views about it then we will go for other issues one by one.
    Regards
    Mukesh Bhandari

  • I have been living outside Himachal for almost 10 yrs now but keep visiting it every 6 months and I have seen very positive changes in these years. Obviously there is lot to be done.But we do have some positives. Specially the Education where State has done remarkably. With education, half the battle is won. Our next generation is now poised to take state forward. I accept that roads can be better but we still have more roads in any of hill state.

    Two of my school mates becmae doctors and have opened hospitals in own distritct. Things are happening. Things will happen. And I will always settle in Himachal.

    Himachal,My impressions

  • Hi Mr. Ravi, How R you and where you are settled. I want to be in touch. Please send me your contact details. I am available at Delhi. Mob. No. 8800955900.

    Regards.

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