Ever since the formation of Uttarakhand, the two major political parties of India, Bhartiya Janta Party, and Congress have been the governing powers of the state. It’s pitiful that no regional party, not even Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, which along with numerous activists, soldiers and martyrs was the backbone of the Uttarakhand Andolan, has been able to gain full governance over Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand was a long-lost dream of the people and officials who saw and felt the separate needs of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions, and understood that the hilly areas stay shadowed behind the rapidly growing plain areas of Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) envisioned a separate state for a very sensible reason, i.e. representation of the people, cultures, traditions, and ideologies of the hilly districts of northern India on a much wider scale. Uttarakhand, that has always been a traditional and cultural hotspot of the country, is known to be mentioned in several Hindu texts and has always been referred to as the home of Gods. However, such a divine state has been witnessing numerous political turmoils in the recent years which has not only led to a disturbance in the wellbeing of the people but also the culture and the very foundation of Uttarakhand.
The very first instance of a national ruling party’s unnecessary interference with the emotions of UKD and the people of Uttarakhand was changing two integral propositions by the andolankaries for reasons which still remain unsatisfactory and shady. Throughout history, the kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon have been rivals due to their contradictory linguistic and cultural values, it is only because of their geographic and democratic similarities, that they corporate with each other and have been joined together to form Uttarakhand. UKD wished to make Gairsain the capital of the newly born state because of the central location of the city. Gairsain is located in the heart of Uttarakhand and serves as the bridge between the Garhwal division and the Kumaon division and therefore, could have further helped settle the differences between the two divisions; However, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) made Dehradun a temporary capital of Uttarakhand due to sheer convenience of communication with the capital city.
Throughout their struggle to separate the hilly districts form Uttar Pradesh, UKD wished to name the state Uttarakhand which literally means ‘Northern section’ in Sanskrit. However, BJP deliberately named the state Uttaranchal, even though the name faced immense criticism and dissatisfaction among the people. It was only in December 2006 that the state was officially named Uttarakhand.
With the recent hegemony that the BJP has achieved in India, the government has started to pose an altogether different level of threat to Uttarakhand’s development. The deliberate dislodgement of the state government and inappropriate development plans are just a few examples of the central government’s negative influence over the state. The hegemonic power of BJP is such that it pushes state institutions to take decisions which contradict the state’s own local agendas. In the current political scenario of India, the central government has all state governments under its thumb, as only those officials and politicians are appointed to represent national ruling parties who are willing and capable to carry out the central government’s orders and agendas, irrespective of their own state’s social norms, sabotaging the legitimacy of legal decisions taken by the state governments that constitute one or another national ruling party.
Any national party cannot completely understand the culture, traditions, ideologies, mythologies, and emotions of Uttarakhand. It is only a local or state party that can understand the issues and needs of the people from below the surface and can develop the state not according to the center, but according to the customs of the state. The national ruling parties do not comply with the state as well as they do with the center; their primary aim shapes according to the current aims of the central government, which is concerned with the overall development of the nation, no matter what condition individual states are in. While sustainable development of the entire nation is crucial, it is to be noted that the nation cannot progress healthily if individual states are in distress; therefore, it is extremely necessary for the state governments to focus mostly on the sustainable development of the state, with respect to the nation. National ruling parties do not understand the rich culture of the hilly districts, and therefore end up neglecting or sabotaging them. The Uttarakhand state government takes no major action to preserve the Garhwali and Kumauni tradition, which had made a lot of the local traditions fade away with generations. There is crucial need to acknowledge one’s own culture to maintain personal ideologies, but unfortunately, Uttarakhand is slowly but gradually losing its cultural values. Without a proper cultural preservation, the whole idea of Uttarakhand becomes moot.
Uttarakhand has witnessed a sudden population boost due to the tremendous infrastructural growth the state is witnessing. However, with an increase in population, job opportunities are taken away from the local citizens. This further leads to a cultural depletion, since the majority of the Uttarakhand population doesn’t wish to stay here because of lack of proper job opportunities; and with them, they take away a part of the hilly traditions. A national ruling party would never understand the need for presence and representation of local people in the area. With the migration of urban population into Dehradun, the cultural values are slowly shifting to that of the NCR. Why is it that like the government of states like Maharashtra and Punjab, Uttarakhand state government fails to give proper representation to local citizens and fails to enrich and instill the local culture into the migrating population?
It is because of the over-influence of the central government on the government of Uttarakhand that even the andolankaries, who should have been the backbones of Uttarakhand have migrated to another state and live a life on ignorance. Too much center involvement, advertising and praising gradually brainwash the public to relinquish their own culture. The Uttarakhand state government will always be incapable of maintaining the state’s integrity as long as a national ruling party is behind it.
Uttarakhand is a peaceful state, and the national ruling parties’ constant attempts to turn it into a technically advanced state has a poisonous effect. There is no need for Uttarakhand, and especially Dehradun, which is supposed to be a mere interim capital of the state, to undergo such infrastructural advancements. The entire city of Tehri was drowned in order to construct a dam that doesn’t even supply electricity to Uttarakhand. Hundreds of people lost their homes and were not given proper accommodations and funds to restart their lives. Why did the government construct something that instead of serving the state on a non-financial front made the lives of so many citizens miserable?
The recent conversion of all of Dehradun’s national highways into district highways in order to prevent the closure of any liquor shops not only tampers with the projected state values but also makes the people question the integrity of government. The source of motivation and the definite aim of Uttarakhand’s government suddenly became uncertain and has put people’s ethics and values in a conundrum.
From the way things have been up till now, one thing is clear, as long as a national ruling party is responsible for Uttarakhand’s governance, the state’s own welfare would always be secondary to the nation’s welfare. If the same political and social situation continue in Uttarakhand, there will be a time when all Garhwali and Kumauni traditions would only be known in stories and Uttarakhand would become an exact replica of the NCR, even though Dehradun failed to become a part of it. Uttarakhand is in desperate need for more youth representation in its governmental operations. More and more debates need to held regarding the preservation of Uttarakhand’s social values.
Uttarakhand has given birth to a lot of political groups and Parishads, but what the state actually needs is a renewed state-born political party which appoints people who truly care about the state and have a significant local public approval. The challenge for an effective Uttarakhand state government is to resolve the most poisonous hilly-area issues, such as migration, lack of good medical and health facilities, lack of good educational institutions and lack of decent livelihood opportunities. Gradually, due to the past and current government’s ignorance of illegal mining and disaster prevention, an effective government also has to take care of the agricultural scenario of the state, as well as build up a good disaster management and prevention system, in light of the Kedarnath tragedy.
Uttarakhand is a state that is famous for its sluggish governance and slipshod ministers, therefore an effective government would be one that would be able to do away with all these stereotypical traits of Uttarakhand state government and therefore consists of proactive leaders and follows bureaucracy, so that it is able to reinstall Uttarakhand to the image that was first fancied by the andolankaries and UKD members, and witnesses incredible state sustainable growth and development, which in order would help in the growth of the entire nation.