Sunday, June 30, 2013

A bend in the river....

This appeared in The Asian Age...

                                A bend in the river….
So now we have an infuriated Goddess as an alibi. That conveniently lets off all those scoundrels responsible for the deaths of so many pilgrims in Uttarakhand. Poor Goddess. Yes, she was displaced from her abode recently. Summarily removed from her temple and relocated to another higher level. Or so the gullible locals have been told. The real story is likely to be dramatically different. The Goddess was clearly in the way. It wasn’t her safety alone that was at stake, it was also the future of an ambitious, lucrative mega hydel power project. The ancient shrine of  Dhari Devi had to be uprooted to facilitate those plans. God knows what the pious pujari was told by lobbyists. But move her, he did. The exact date of that shifting remains hazy but in retrospect, those who took that decision must be nervous indeed. That’s India. We believe in stuff like this.Equally,when all else fails,we conveniently blame the Gods.  After all, the displeased Goddess cannot go to court , nor file an FIR, or even take the RTI route. She can merely sulk in silence and do her worst. We have seen the terrible consequences of that! Her wrath has devastated a tiny but  hugely strategic State ( China breathes down its neck), killed countless innocents, ravaged the region and destroyed virtually everything that lay in the path of those furious flood waters. With the rivers on a rampage, India once again bowed to the will of the Gods. That said, it is time to assess with ruthless honesty ( if we have the guts), what actually went so horribly wrong in Uttarakhand. Is it that tough?Let’s start with basic questions :  here ,we are talking about a historic pilgrimage centre that has existed for centuries. Millions of pilgrims have trekked up those treacherous paths over the years. The numbers have only grown. And yet, successive governments have done nothing to address the perils faced by believers? The inconvenience of the faithful who risk life and limb to make the hazardous journey year after year? And hello! Is the Indian Monsoon an unknown phenomenon?Do we not know the magnitude of the havoc those rains wreak across India season after season?  So why are we behaving like we were dealing with something entirely alien and unpredictable? Even in the past, those nasty landslides have claimed many lives ( who can forget dancer Protima Bedi’s tragic death while on a pilgrimage?). Despite all of this being a given, our response to the calamity has been abysmal, dismal and sickeningly callous. Thank God for our valiant men in uniform! One shudders to think what might have happened had we left it to our politicians to handle the crisis on their own.
Well… we do know what some of them did after disaster struck. Vijay Bahuguna,the Chief Minister of  Uttarakhand, reluctantly cut short his European junket and came back  to utter the usual platitudes. Allegedly, he was compelled to give up his Moulin Rouge moments when orders from Dilli sternly summoned him  -  report for duty, or else! Ditto for Birthday Baba Rahul Gandhi who was kicking up his heels in London, and enjoying the services of his favourite barber there. That’s when Mama Mia advised him to forget his quiff for a bit, and come right back ( maybe it was his barber’s day off for he took his time ). This was after Mama Mia’s aerial sortie and view from the clouds, as she surveyed the devastation from the plush aircraft, along with a stone faced Manmohan Singh. Our P.M. repeated the same old lines from the same stale script (“Our hearts go out to the families of those…..”), making one wonder whether he has a set of  clichéd speeches handy for every crisis -   natural disasters/ terror attacks/ epidemics/ train crashes/ riots/ miscellaneous- developments- of- a- scary- kind. And how hard that poor heart of his must be working to keep ‘going out’ to victims time and time again!
Khair. What a despairing nation witnessed was apathy and ineptitude on an epic level, when it came to leadership. Netas of every hue shamelessly exploited the tragedy, converting rescue operations into nauseating photo ops.  We saw scuffles between politicians racing to get there first on aircrafts they weren’t paying for. And we saw the unfortunate tussle between Rambo and Dumbo, as Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi tried hard to win dubious badges of  honour for ‘doing something’ during the crisis.While politicians will be politicians and vie for glory even during a tragedy by milking any and every opportunity,  the apparent indifference of corporate India was even more distressing.Whatever became of those highly flaunted private jets and choppers they jauntily pose with for glossies?Where were our flashy Billionaires when we needed them? Here was the beleaguered Indian Army  coping with an unprecedented situation. Here were fearless IAF pilots giving up their lives to save others (along with nameless police personnel and compassionate citizens). Each one striving day and night to do whatever was humanly possible to rescue  stranded pilgrims and locate bodies of the dead.Commandant Nitya Nand Gupta, heading the NDRF, sacrificed his own life, along with his crack team of 20 rescuers when the Mi – 17 helicopter crashed. Yes, India will honour and remember their extraordinary valour. Is that enough?
The most shocking allegation doing the rounds involves the anti-environmentalists position taken by the State’s CM, Vijay Bahuguna, who has strenuously lobbied to clear ambitious hydel projects at the cost of  massive deforestation. He went so far as to accuse the MoEF of ‘blocking’ development in his State. Critics point out that there was much more at stake in those mega deals than just the hydro power potential Bahuguna refers to. Let’s leave that for now and begin on a fresh note with a comprehensive development plan for what is a very important pilgrimage site for Hindus. What about providing roads and supporting infrastructure to facilitate easy access in future? What about reviewing some of those lop-sided development plans, which have also permitted the haphazard construction of shopping malls and hotels, carved out of   those very mountains that finally protested by caving in?

The Goddess has every right to be furious. Dhari Devi ( a manifestation of Kali), legendary protector of four dhams in the region, will not easily forgive the promoters of the 300 MW  Alaknanda Hydel Project  that allegedly wanted her out of the way before starting work. We are a superstitious and sentimental people. The curse of an enraged Goddess can (and has) moved mountains. Rivers, too. Let’s not anger Dhari Devi any further. Why not ask her for forgiveness and bring her home ?


Anonymous said...

The total number of Shakti Peeths in India is 108 and 26 Shakti Peeths are in Uttarakhand. Lord Laxman and Guru Gobind Singh ji meditated here in his previous incarnation. It is a Dev-Bhoomi of Sati and Parvati. It is a Bhoomi of Swargarohini. It is visited by Pandavas and 2500 years ago by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. Gomukh is here - The source of holy river Ganga. Jamuna, Saraswati, Bhagirathi, Mandakini and many holy rivers start from here only. In short Uttarakhand is known as Dev-Bhoomi.

satish said...

Perhaps, the netas in the hill state & in the center should not have allowed to develop hydel project with the developers in the sensitive ecological zone in the himalayas. Instesd the government should have worked to develop & give a good basic infrastructure facilities like reaching the hindu temples safely in a faster way! And its due to various mega developments in the snowy himalayas, one of the reasons for the disaster is because certainly some netas are power hungry & corrupt for there own reasons! In spite of weather warnings the govrnment didn't take it seriously & failed to act quickly.

Jogeshwar said...

Really humbled by the above picture, that girl should be going to school instead.
The shrine has existed for centuries yet I fail to understand why do millions of pilgrims every year have to trek up those treacherous paths? If China can build a road to the base of Mt. Everest, what keeps us from providing easy access to the pilgrims. I have an inkling the state is loath to do so.
Also we can no longer have faith in the state with the responsibility of providing early warning of such impending disasters. A lot of money is donated to shrines, why not rope in a MNC like google to set-up a weather station with an early warning system.

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S said...

Suppose they were to shift Kedarnath or Badrinath deity for some dam purpose, would they do it ? How come they did it so easily with Dhari Devi ? Hope Char Dham doesnt become Char (or many more) DAM yatra in future ! Spiritual growth is the final result of all growth. That is the only destiny available to human beings. One cannot stabilize oneself with wealth, health etc and anyway one has to know what death is which is the ending of whatever has been accumulated. Just like stomach is satisfied only by food, the mind can be once and for all satisfied only when it finds its spiritual source. In the West they are supposed to be well developed. Why people are still restless ? How come our country is excluding the spiritual aspect from growth ? That is where the problem lies and nobody knows where to draw the line for material expansion. Just like one misues one's own body for ambitions/desires, the natural resources are exploited for one's own desires not knowing where to stop. The Gods know how to restore the balance, and this is one such case. Even if they call it nature's fury or environmental imbalance, still they are attributing intelligence to nature or environment and this clearly proves nature or environment is not inert. Once we accept that nature is also intelligence just like us, then our ancient culture will be revived and things will be in balance. As long as society is confused about this, there is going to be problem always.

Pooja Rathore said...

Touching post...number of reasons for uttarkhand tragedy...but u touched the core..Dhari heart agrees with you.

Kalpana Misra said...

Great read! You've touched on all the points that made my blood boil and with your usual scathing wit.

Anil Kumar said...

The Chuttad NDTV with Nidhi Razdan is at its best in Ishrat Jahaan's case.
These folks in media along with some lawyers are disgrace for this country. The country is already in deep shit due to Sardar's adventures and Sonia's designs. But they want to kill Modi who is the only person who can bring some comfort to this country called India.
These traitors should be rubbed against the sil-batta(used for griding the spices at home) until their white bones come out.

Unknown said...

The violence in your language speaks of how admirers of Modi behave.

Ishrat Jehan was a an young 19 year old killed in cold blood and you are asking all to shut up and not talk about it just to save the image of your Modi.

Dont use the word traitor so loosely.

Anil Kumar said...

There are only two people who can take this country out of this deep shit. One is Modi - because he has a track record of good governance. The other person is Arvind Kejriwal who has great ideas and hits precisely where it hurts - most. He hits both BJP and congress.

Till Kejriwal becomes a national figure which will take time - any person who wish good for the country will give the chance to the second best choice which is Modi. Hope Kejriwal beats the shit out of congress/Sheila Dixit and BJP in Delhi.

So Mr. unknown - I am not with any party.

But there are loads of chuttad journalists in NDTV who constantly lick the congress and its corrupt leaders. And work overtime to ensure that a community famous for terrorism cast all their votes to congress.

Hope you get it this time. Crude language is necessary because the people who speak in soft language and deceive this country every single day - be it in media or political parties spokesperson...They probably understand how common people of this country feel about them. I hope their son/daughter/grandsons every one should know the CHUTTAD mentality of those in NDTV newsroom and in politics who repeatedly rape this country at the cost of personal gains.

Raju said...

I entirely agree with the strong words thrown towards the traitor politicians who have turned the Himalayas, Greatest Mountain Range , both into a factory and a dustbin.

Latha said...

Very well said. devi's & Devatas residing peacefully over a mountain are protecting the peace & tranquility of the place. Unfortunately they cannot be bribed ! Otherwise our politicians would've fixed a price for them as well. Nor can they be tempted by 'seats' in Parliament. They don't care for both. By displacing the Devi, they've removed the protection the place received for innumerous years. Now what will happen to the Mega hydel project? Will it still go ahead with the peril of the Devi's wrath? I think so. Greed knows no bounds. But whether it'd be a success, people would make money & have peace of mind without any untoward incidents has to be seen. Another mega scam on the way.

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Mohan Agrawal. said...

why are tantriks which are upasak of kali teach a lesson to vijay bahuguna make his govt. fall??

Our constitution is "for the people" and in this country the faith of people are not taken into consideration. what a joke!!! this country has become a joke.

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