Ranjona Banerji: State of Turmoil & Unhappiness

04 Oct,2022

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Ranjona BanerjiA recent series of advertorials about the state of Uttarakhand’s infrastructure development was all about how the BJP government at the Centre was investing in the state to make life easier for religious tourism. There was the Prime Minister’s photograph prominently placed, informing us about the Char Dham Yatra Road, a mountain railway line for pilgrims and so on.

Not a single word in these advertorials about how the BJP governments at the either the Centre or the state are doing anything about the people who live in Uttarakhand.

Well, obviously.

Because if you read the news pages, you realise the state of turmoil and unhappiness.

The murder of hotel receptionist Ankita Bhandari allegedly by the son of a BJP politician and his associates continues to make the news locally, but has not been responded to by the national BJP. And the national media has already run out of steam.

Since it cannot bring itself to question the BJP, it remains focused on the Congress’s internal elections. Women in other political parties must answer for every act of violence and harassment against women in non-BJP states, but women in the BJP are exempt from opinion or support for women.

The cities of Uttarakhand have performed very badly on the recent government cleanliness survey. Haridwar has come in at 330. There is garbage everywhere, as anyone who lives here knows. The mighty Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a joke, as everyone who lives here knows. A conversation with a local Pradhan illuminated the problem: 60 % of the panchayat budget goes to Swachh Bharat, which is not under village control. That leaves 40 % for all other facilities and that explains why there are no road repairs, no lights and so on.

The “infrastructure” advertorials face pages of news about the destruction to the environment, and the lies told by the government. Most recently, we learnt that the government lied with its claim that only 163 trees were cut for a tiger safari in Corbett Tiger Reserve, for PM Modi’s appearance on Bear Gryll’s Man vs Wild TV programme. A Forest Survey of India found that over 6000 trees had been cut in a 40-acre area.

You will not see this in any advertorial.

Nor will any member of the mainstream national media question the PMO about this.

We know that it is not possible to question Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he does not take questions from the Indian media. And the Indian media has been happy to play along with this for over eight years. Let’s run with a mike to question Rahul Gandhi about giving a speech in the rain! O No! We can’t! We’ve been given express instructions not to cover Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra! Okay! We shall just make up any old stuff we want instead, attack Muslims and Dalits, opposition state governments, non-BJP politicians and all the other stuff of the list of things you can cover given to us by the BJP! Wheeeeeeee! What fun!

 

I was going to tell you about how the Uttarakhand government has tried to change rules about the perennial and non-perennial streams which dot this landscape and are vital to Himalayan ecology, to help the mining industry but then I thought, why bother?

It’s not like anyone cares anyway, right?

Errrm, until it’s all fall down. And then it’ll be too late to stop watching that toxic TV nonsense you are addicted to.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia on Tuesdays and Fridays. Her views here are personal

 

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