April 11, 2004
Kick start: Kalsi to Chakrata
This weekend, I went on a trip to Jaunsar Babar and Himachal Pradesh. We took the route from Kalsi to Chakrata and from there to Hathkoti in Himachal Pradesh and back to Purola via Hanol and Mori. As we all know that the trip from Kalsi to Chakrata is a fascinating one, through the region of Jaunsar Babar. It had all the ingredients of Himalayan beauty, giant mountains with peaks almost touching the sky and clouds playing between the trees on mountain tops and you think no wonder I am in 'Devbhumi'. The houses, with some influence from Himachal, are quite different. The house roofs have tin sheets in sloping fashion, as opposed to 'slate stone' slabs in the traditional Garhwali way. One could drive miles and miles without seeing a person on the road and seldom you would see a house on the hillside.
Pick-up: The Himachal Pradesh
We crossed over to Himachal Pradesh and man you could feel, smell, see and taste the difference. Almost, every hill in Himachal is doted with houses in clusters forms and as singular entities, because there has been no exodus from the state. Almost all the houses were beautiful, with tin roofs and somewhat had British Architectural influence. Good and well maintained houses are signs of prosperity and affluence. Since, outsiders cannot buy lands in Himachal, the land reform system has somewhat been beneficial to the local populace. There was poverty in the region when Himachal Pradesh was carved out from Punjab. Then the chief minister Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar, asked the land owners to let the government plant apple trees on their lands to be developed in to orchards and then after the government had got its return on that investment, the ownership of the orchards (I mean the trees) was transferred to the land owners. Since then the region has never looked back.
Geared up: The People
Himachalis do not have regular jobs, which the Uttarakhandis aspire for, the income they generate from the orchards is so much that there is hardly need for any work. One can see Nepali workers in Himachal, but they are just workers, who are working there temporarily, whereas in Uttarakhand, Nepali labor is being provided with ration cards and they are being land on lease to put up their establishment/house and has his name entered in the voters' list by gram pradhans. The difference is just there to see. Well some people may say that Himachal was created more than forty years back and hence it would take sometime in Uttarakhand to get in that same standard. But I say that it is the Agriculture/Horticulture and Tourism that has formed basis of the progress and prosperity we see in Himachal today.
Left milestone: The Uttarakhand
We get too excited by hearing that Microsoft/IBM has signed some obscure MoU with Uttarakhand government and an IT incubation center is being opened. Ok, nothing wrong with MoUs and incubation centers, but how many people would benefit from that? Is IT education, the IT industry within the reach of an average Uttarakhandi youngster? It would be only the English medium educated urban young generation, which would benefit from it, but Uttarakhand does not live in urban areas only, it lives in those remote mountain tops and deep valleys, in those terrace fields. We have a government that cannot even ensure a proper teacher to most of the schools and talk of taking on the moon!
Road side: The land
The only area where Uttarakhand and Himachal stand equally is the trash and poor garbage management. Just like Uttarakhand, Himachal also faces the problem of non-biodegradable trash being dumped in the rivers and natural drains. As one heads back to Uttarakhand from Himachal, as soon as you cross the border, you can tell that you are in Uttarakhand without even a signboard telling you that.
And I am resting for a while....
Article presented by: Anurag Bist
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