Saturday, January 16, 2021

PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS

 PANCHAYAT ELECTION is the buzzword in Himachal these days. Open canvassing having come to an end, however,  the supporters of candidates may silently go door to door to make a last ditch effort to garner support. The Elections not being held on party lines, the candidates are constrained to make personal requests on social media as well , spelling out their credentials and holding out promises on development plans envisaged   by them for the villages in the respective Panchayats.This is another matter that majority of the candidates enjoy the indirect support of one political party or the other.  With the least of stakes involved unlike the State Assembly and Loksabha Elections, ironically the Panchayat Elections are the most sensitive in terms of personal prestige and reputation as  the  electoral constituency is of persons personally known to the candidates and vice versa, whereas due to the larger area of constituency involved in Assembly and Loksabha Elections, it is the prestige and reputation of the respective Political parties at stake. 

The conduct of PRI elections is cumbersome for the polling parties as the same party has to conduct elections at three different stations  , the interval being given for movement and setting up booth at the next station. There is simultaneous voting for Pradhan/Up Pradhan/ Ward members  as also for the BDC & Zila Parishad members. This is all very cumbersome for the polling officers.

The candidates for the various offices are on tenterhooks right till the declaration of  results for which they wait with bated breath. The village politics is at full play there being many individual considerations.  Undeniably, some people might think it a chance and opportunity to set scores , in case the voter harbours personal grudges against a candidate for whatever reason. The political parties are also in the fray though indirectly. The poltical leanings of the candidate are well known within the segment.The scene at the counting centre resembles the one during a festival, people all agog with enthusiasm and anxiety.

All said , these elections being local in nature serve as a nursery for poltical awakening and participation so crucial to a working democracy.

Munshi Prem Chand 's classic story पंच परमेश्वर' automatically comes to mind, as putting up a bench mark of sorts for the elected candidates, as far as integrity and impartiality are concerned.

Good luck to  Candidates and voters alike !

Do the best; expect the best !

Fate for good or bad is going to be sealed for the next five years !!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

RANDOM MUSINGS

  A ray of hope however dim it may appear  is in sight after a long time .I have already mentioned in some of my previous posts that to me , a retired person leading a laidback life ,forced restrictions on movement are not a big deal. But on other accounts I am as much a worried person as a common man can be in these circumstances. All through this Covid  period , I have closely followed news on mainstream  Media-printed & visual- and social media and have   read about and seen  the plight of people reported on day to day basis. The Economic recession , resulting in unemployment  and  deaths caused by Covid in such large numbers are the worst fall out of the Pandemic.

With the Vaccine  ready to be administered to health workers in the first instance and in  near future hitting the market for common use , there is optimism  and hope of some kind albeit with some reservations. Despite the va ccine , the precautions and safeguards are there to stay for a long long time.Physical distancing and mask will continue to be a   part of life till 100% immunity is achieved.

I am waiting for the day,  I may move about fearlessly, shaking hands with friends and exchanging pleasantries.  

Though never a regular on the Mall, and now with no charm left after the closure of my favourite Baljee's, I hope to have lunch at Gupta jee's in Middle Bazar. 

Next will come some random shopping at DCAR !

Monday, January 11, 2021

COVID19 in 2021

 For months together we have been literally on our toes waiting anxiously for the magical Vaccine that  would rid us of the threat of Covid 19 and help lead normal lives. The medical scientists and researchers  across the world  worked day and night in this direction. Now that 2-3 types of Vaccine have come up and hit the market, the slugfest so  natural to the   immensely competitive  world of today has started sooner than later. The doubting Thomases waxed eloquent about some imaginary or imagined misgivings, but mercifully not lent much of ear. The rival manufacturers and developers have made claims and counter claims about the comparative efficacy of various brands and types, which might get  get laid to rest in due course. The sad incident of  death of a young volunteer offering himself for the testing in MP is no doubt a dampener and rightly has invited an Inquiry as to the cause of death. 

The Government of India has already made a roadmap and issued guidelines for the order and manner in which Vaccine is to administered , considering all aspects. The countrywide launching of vaccination program is slated for 16th this month. A beginning has been made. We hope to meet with the desired results. We as people have suffered enough one way or the other.

Good luck to us all  !!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

PANCHYAYTI RAJ ELECTIONS

 Elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions in most of the areas of  Himachal Pradesh are slated in three stages on 17th, 19th & 21th of January. Like elections to the Loksabha and the State Assembly, the Panchayati Raj elections too are a quinquennial exercise. The rural people down to the village level  become very enhusiastic about these elections as they  have the right to vote for and elect their representatives to address local issues at Ward and Panchayat level in the shape of Ward members, Pradhans and Uppradhan . Up the  ladder under the three tier systems are the Panchayat Samiti or the BDC at the Block level  and the Zila Parishad at the District level. The members of the BDC and the Zila Parishad are fewer in number and represent a larger area. 

As is generally observed that in terms of seriousness and sensitivity, the PRI Elections take precedence over Assembly and Loksabha Elections , in which the Party of affiliation rather than the candidate himself/ herself  become more important. The Panchayati Raj Elections are not held on Party symbols, rather symbols are allotted  in the alphabetical order of the name of the candidate. No candidate has the choice of a symbol. 

To an observer, it is amusing to see the maximum  zeal and fervour of voters during the PRI elections  though the stakes are not the that high. Ironically the Loksabha Elections  where the stakes are the highest ,engage the voters the least in terms of   zeal and enthusiasm as the M.P. they vote for has a larger Constituency to cater to , often consisting of 3,4 districts . 

Even though PRI Elections are not contested on Party symbols, the presence of political Parties on the sly is all too evident and some statements from the Party persons make this more confirmed, when they mention the name of candidates supported by them. In this scenario, the all appeals to the voters to vote  for a competent, capable, knowledgeable candidate are given a go by. The ruling party in the State has an obvious advantage, as it  is believed and rightly  so that the ruling party supported candidate would  be better able to push matters and get work done.

In essence and if taken in the right earnest,  the PRI elections train the people to participate in the democratic process of decision making.

The aftermath of the Election is worth watching when the rival Political parties lay their claim to successful candidates.

The social Media has become a useful and effective tool for the candidates to reach out to the voter, apart from personal appeals made by visiting the homes.


Friday, January 1, 2021

THIS DAY TWENTY YEARS AGO:


  As I woke up to the New Year Day in 2001 at Reckong Peo, the District HQ of Kinnaur, a telephonic call from the Deputy Commissioner, Solan informed me of the sad demise of Sh . Thakur Sen Negi , at Salogra, where he used to stay. Sh. Negi is a revered name in Kinnaur, who being an IAS officer had retired  as the Chief Secretary to H.P.Government in the '60s. Joining politics post retirement, he was a five time MLA from the Kinnaur Constituency and had  been twice a  Speaker of H.P. Vidhan Sabha and once a Cabinet Minister. The Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur was  out of the District on tour. The District had suffered flashfloods  in August 2000, which had caused massive damage to the National Highway , bridges buildings and private land along the Satluj river. The restoration work  was underway and  the road had not been restored. 

I made a call to Sh . Subhash Negi, a very Senior , affable and approachable IAS officer to inform him of the prevailing situation. He asked me not to worry as he would  handle the  situation . Since it was not possible to bring the mortal remains to his native place in Kinnaur, he was accorded  funeral as per protocol befitting his status, at Shimla with many VIPs in attendance.

Sh. Thakur Sen Negi  was a highly respected leader and a person known for his impeccable credentials both as a senior Bureaucrat and a politician. Known for his intelligence, learning , honesty and punctuality , he was held in esteem by all, cutting across party lines.

He was associated at different times with the Congress, Janata Party and lastly the BJP. He did a lot to meet the aspirations of the tribal people and also wrote a book about the Scheduled Tribes of Himachal Pradesh.

He was a B.Sc.(Agriculture) from Lyallpur Agriculture College and had a degree  in Law. He had served as a Naval Officer and a Tehsildar before getting inducted into the IAS. I had the opportunity to meet him when he visited  Kinnaur in 1998. The Government Degree College Reckong Peo  bears his name and  there is a statue erected in his honour at Reckong Peo.

Humble tributes to the highly respected person and an iconic personality !

Thursday, December 31, 2020

ADIEU 2020

  For all intents and puposes and in retrospect the year 2020 has been extraordinary, whichever way you tend to look at it. The year had started on a light and humorous note to many, redolent of a 20-20 Cricket match ,similarity  however ending with  the figure 2020, which thanks(sic) to the spill and world wide spread of  a pandemic called Covid 19, was to turn ominous. Overall the year has been disastrous , to say the least in more ways than one . A disaster that has caused a million deaths across the world , with India contributing to the figure almost in proportion to the population vis a vis the world.There have been also social implications of the Pandemic.   The world apart from a health and medical catastrophe faced the problem of massive economic slowdown, with all industrial and manufacturing activity coming to a halt  , resulting in massive unemployment and in India especially the forced repatriation of migrant labour in hordes, who in the beginning for many days  trudged long distances largely on foot , facing hardships along the way . The two extremes of human mindset and behaviour were manifest .The philanthropists and NGOs rising to the occasion and coming up with all kind of material and monetary  help  made one proud and reassured of humanity and humane traits . On the other hand, gross insensitivity and callousness from  some quarters was also evident. As a retired person having withdrawn myself from public life, perhaps  I could afford to sit at home and be a fence sitter  since March.   Kudos and hats off to all those Government and non- Government functionaries at all levels , especially those of Medical,  Health , Cleaning , and law & order , who risked their own lives in caring and tending the others , quite a few of them losing their lives in the line of duty . They are also martyrs like the soldiers who lay down lives at the border, defending the Country. I also admire those who during the lockdown and after continued with their creative pursuits often instilling positivity and courage through their meaningful writings, be it poetic outpourings or prose writings.

The Pandemic is not yet over . Let us hope that the sincere day and night efforts by the medical scientists across the world to develop Vaccine against the  Covid bear fruit, bring out desired results  and provide succour  and relief to the people world over .No tears however, are enough to shed for  the persons who fell fatal victims to Covid.

Remain alert and be safe !

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिन:,सर्वे सन्तु निरामया,

सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु

मा कश्चिद् दुख भागभवेत।

ऊँ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः

Sunday, December 20, 2020

तेज राम शर्मा


 स्मृति शेष 

तेज राम शर्मा 

( 25.03.1943 – 20.12.2017 )

तुम को न भूल पाएंगे  !


सपने अपने  अपने:


बालक ने सपना देखा

उड़ गया वह आकाश में

पीठ से फिसला उसका बस्ता

एक-एक कर आसमान से गिरी

पुस्तकें और काँपियाँ

देख कर मुस्कराया और उड़ता रहा

फिर गिरा आँखों से उसका चश्मा

धरती इतनी सुंदर है

उसने कभी सपने में भी न सोचा था


युवा ने सपना देखा

हवाई जहाज़ से

उसने लगाई छलांग

करतब दिखाता हुआ

निर्भय गिरता रहा धरती की ओर

जंगल जब तेजी से उसके पास आया

तो उसने पैराशूट खोल दिया

हवा का एक तेज़ झोंका

उसे राह से विचलित कर गया

पैराशूट को नियंत्रित करता हुआ

साहस के साथ वह

पेड़ों से घिरी चारागाह में उतरा

वहाँ एक युवती दौड़कर उसके पास आई

और प्यार भरी आँखों से उसे देखने लगी

सपने में ही अपना सिर उसकी गोद में रखकर

वह जीने के सपने देखने लगा


बूढ़े ने सपना देखा

सुबह-सुबह नदी स्नान करते हुए

फिसला जाता है उसका पाँव

वह नदी में डूबने लगता है

शिथिल इन्द्रियोँ से

छटपताता है बाहर निकलने के लिए

अपने-पराये कोई नहीं सुनते उसकी चीख

सब कुछ छूटता नज़र आता है

जैसे ही अंतिम साँस निकलने को होती है

बिस्तर पर जाग पड़ता है वह भयानक सपने से

काँपते हाथों से पानी पीता है और

सपने देखने से डरने लगता है।


-तेज राम शर्मा