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Friday, June 30, 2017

Destinations :: Darjeeling (1981)


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Kanchenjunga  massif
Darjeeling is back in the news and not for the right reasons. This time it is alleged imposition of Bengali in the primary schools of Darjeeling. After all, being a part of the state of Bengal where the official language is Bengali and English its districts necessarily have to follow suit. But the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha which runs autonomously the district administration has made an issue of it. As a consequence peace has again been disrupted in one of the places of great tourist interest.

 This is the second time violence has been witnessed in Darjeeling.
Batasia Loop (from internet)
TheBatasia Loopfirst time was when Subhash Geishing-led Gorkha National Liberation Front was fighting in 1986-87 for a separate state called Gorkhaland under the Indian Constitution. The city faced terrible times with unchecked violence, rioting, loot and arson.

A trip to Darjeeing reminded me of the beautiful picture post-cards my eldest brother used to have of the Darjeeling Himalayan railways. The

cozying up in the guest house
memories of those postcards are still etched in my mind – of the train with its steam engine emerging out of the surrounding forests, of the steep hills it would strain to climb puffing out huge clouds of black smoke and then taking the spiral climb in its stride which, I later found, was in fact the loop at Ghoom close to 8000 ft above sea level.

Thankfully, we were lucky to have decided to visit the place well before the sad turn of events as narrated above. For us it was a long haul from Delhi, more than 30 hours to the base station of Siliguri and then by road to Darjeeling taking around another four hours. We didn’t take the
A view of houses on the hills
much-acclaimed narrow gauge train as it did not look very attractive suffering as it was from lack of proper maintenance. The train was yet to acquire the World Heritage status. The road was interesting as it wound its way through some vegetation that one could call forests and then out of it only to indulge in some labored rather stiff climb. It takes one all the way up to around 8000 ft. near the railway station of Ghoom from where one can see that famous Batasia Loop, a marvel of 19th Century engineering where the railway line spirals itself over it and into a tunnel.

In the massive Botanical Garden
 Recorded history of Darjeeling commences from around what is now called the First War of Independence fought in the middle of 19th Century. The place was found very suitable for a sanatorium for the British troops who were posted in the sultry and sweaty plains of Bengal. The place is a melting pot of almost all lower Himalayan people. One will find here Nepalis, Bhutias, Lepchas, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sherpas and many others with Gorkhas forming the majority.

There aren’t many sites to see, at least not when we went more than 35
A view of the tea gardens
years ago. Now things of tourist interests have been added for whatever worth. At that time there was only the Kanchenjungha, the third highest mountain in the world which one could gaze at, the Botanical Garden and the tea gardens. If one found oneself at a loose end one could take a walk down the Mall. For those who had never seen a tea garden a visit to one of them could be rewarding. The gardens look beautiful located as they are on slopes and the tea bushes are interspersed with taller trees
A view of the mist and the surrounding forests

Darjeeling tea is a unique product giving enormous tactile pleasure and, I think, prepares one for meeting all the exigencies of life. It is one of those fragrant products of the country which has earned repute at home and abroad. There was a time when the British would swear by it but the tea is now a favoured beverage practically in all corners of the world. I
The Darjeeling Mall (from internet)
recall that on our way to see the house of Anne Frank in Amsterdam I happened to see a signboard over a shop proclaiming “Darjeeling”. Seeing “Darjeeling” writ large on the signboard pepped me up as would a sip of Makaibari or Lopchu tea from there. It used to be coffee that the Europeans preferred leaving tea to be enjoyed by the islanders across the Channel. No, now it seems Darjeeling teas are favourites of the connoisseur Incidentally, Anne Frank became posthumously famous when her diary written about the goings on around her during the last Great War was discovered and published in numerous languages. 
 . She wrote it 
On the verandah
in her tiny hideout in her house before the family was exposed and arrested by Gestapo.

The Mall of Darjeeling is, well, like the malls of other hill stations. They are good walks with incredibly beautiful Himalayan views. A stroll on the Mall in Darjeeling enables you to see the Bengali glitterati in their best. The best exposure to the Mall here was given by Satyajit Ray in his film Kanchenjunga. He filmed the aristocratic looking Chhabi Biswas taking a stroll on the Mall in a three piece suit haranguing a young man whom he wanted to propose to his daughter.


The sight of the first rays of sun touching the mountain peaks can be fascinating. Just to see such a sight there is a place only 11kms. away from Darjeeling called Tiger Hill. On a dark cold morning we mounted a rather biggish jeep and commenced our tough journey towards Tiger Hill, the summit of Ghoom. It was still dark when we reached the place.
Another view of mist in Darjeeling
We waited for about half an hour gazing at the indistinct shapes of the peaks against the indifferently lighted sky. Soon the spectacle commenced; as the first rays of the sun touched the peaks of Kanchenjunga became a little clearer and distinct. And, then the sunrays hit them, gradually turning them from yellow to gold and later fiery red. The most incredible sight was that the sun was still below the horizon as its rays hit the peaks and then, as we looked for it, it rose from a level below us. My camera could not capture the scene as I wanted. Nonetheless, one could see as many as three peaks – Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Everest, with Makalu appearing taller than Everest as it was closer to us by many miles 

Darjeeling is a place to savour its salubrious climate and pleasant weather, more so before the onset of autumn. One has to enjoy it – yes, enjoy it sipping its tea sitting in an expansive verandah watching Kanchenjunga changing its shades. We did just that and enjoyed to our heart’s content the fantastic aromatic teas of the place.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

FROM THE SCRAPBOOK :: 2


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Euthanasia

I had heard about Euthanasia, the process of physician-assisted death of terminally sick patients or of patients suffering from progressive incurable diseases, more than forty years ago. It was being talked about in the newspapers when cancer was slowly assuming menacing proportions with practically no cure available. In those days it went by the term “mercy killing”.

My late brother who was at one time Special Assistant to Dr. Karan Singh, the then Health Minister, also once happened to tell me that the minister wanted to know more about the process. No progress has, however, been made since then and Euthanasia, as an alternative to acutely suffering patients from several kinds of fatal diseases, continues to remain only in the realms of possibilities with no prospects in the near future of its being introduced.

In the United States euthanasia was introduced in the state of Oregon as far back as in 1997 and since then it was introduced in several other states like Montana, Colorado, Vermont, Washington DC etc. Perhaps, California, known as the trend-setting state, was so far the last to put into effect only in 2016 the law relating to assisted suicide. According to the available data as many as 504 terminally ill patients have requested for life-ending drugs since the law came into force. While the state authorities have not released any figures it is presumed that the overall figure would be much higher. Nonetheless, it is apparent that the law in question is working pretty well. The families of those who have made the choice have indicated that the law has provided comfort and relief to the dying from intolerable suffering. Some see providing the option to the dying as a logical evolution in the current medical care system.

Euthanasia has been in medical discourses for quite some time. I recall having read the depositions of elderly people in the West who did not wish to spend their last days in nursing homes or hospices regardless of the high quality of nursing care in them. The prospects of suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, insufferable body and joint aches, chronic constipation and all other diseases that are associated with failing vital organs as advancing age chips away at the system is frightening to them, as it is to all of us. Most of them demanded the choice of assisted suicide particularly when there was no hope of recovery and the suffering was likely to pile on by the day. What they wished for was a self-willed dignified death without the hassles associated with interminable deep suffering – both physical and mental.

If one wishes to see the sufferings of the terminally ill patients a visit to any cancer hospital would be fruitful. I have had occasions to see from time to time the agony on the faces of these patients in the local JL Nehru Cancer Hospital. However much the hospital provides palliative treatment to those who are at the terminal stage the effort only marginally lightens the patients’ sufferings. Perhaps, an option for assisted death would be far more welcome than the prolonged pain and agony from which release is unlikely. Forcing a terminally sick patient to live out his life of acute pain and misery in keeping with the prevailing societal mores would not seem to be making any sense. An option for termination of life, if exercised, would release not only a patient from his/her unbearable, insufferable and intolerable pain, agony and misery but also relieve his/her family and well-wishers from prolonged exposure to the sufferings of a loved one that heavily impacts their psyche.

Unfortunately, in this country there is neither enough social cohesion for making a demand for euthanasia nor are the governments so enlightened as to enact such laws on their own. Besides, the leaders of the society are far too busy in garnering votes at future elections. Even the medical fraternity has failed to propose such a measure which apart from providing relief to terminally ill patients would make their own life a little easier. Besides, in the prevailing environment of shortages and inadequacy numerous beds/wards could be released for treatment of those who have better chances of recovery to lead a healthy life.

One tends to feel that the debate on the matter needs to resume. A time seems to have come when a scientific and more modern view of this important matter is taken by people in authority. After all, when medical science, despite its rapid advancement, is not able to provide release from pain and suffering to a patient wouldn’t it make sense that the patient, if he so wished, could ask for a dignified termination of his miserable life?

CICLOVIA

Somehow or other Colombia has been at the vanguard of urban transport initiatives. The Bus Rapid Transit System, BRTS for short, though established first in Curitiba in Brazil, it is Bogota in Colombia that we in India drew inspiration from. The country has a fascinating rapid transit system which we have tried to emulate but have miserably failed in the effort for varied reasons that need not be gone into here.

A fresh initiative has come from Colombia and this time it is not about the polluting diesel buses that are used in the bus rapid transit system. It is about good old bicycle and an attempt to resurrect it after it was virtually pushed into oblivion as a means of personal mobility. The Colombian initiatives have had emphasis on conservation of environment. Just as the BRTS was meant to apply brakes on the rapidly increasing green house gases in the atmosphere the new initiative that goes by the name Ciclovia attempts to popularize  emission-free transport as also to improve the health of people and their general wellbeing.

Ciclovia is not, in fact, a new initiative. It was commenced around 1974 when sections of roads were closed on Sundays for motor vehicles for half a day and only cyclists, walkers and joggers were allowed on them. The Indian Ambassador in Colombia writes that what started as a small exercise now covers more than 121 kms. of Bogota’s roads with the participation of one fourth of the population of the town of eight million on every Sunday and on other holidays that work out to 68 days in a year. He says, from 7.00 AM to 2.00 PM young and old come out in colourful apparels to give themselves an outing in their own city.

Many cities of Colombia and Latin America have adopted Ciclovia. Apparently people like the initiative prompting the administrations to add hundreds of kilometers cycle routes in Bogota and elsewhere. Ciclovia’s popularity is being used by commercial firms to broadcast their messages through various cycling events. Even the Indian Embassy is reported to have celebrated the International Yoga Day in June 2016 using Ciclovia.

We in India were at one time totally dependent on the bicycle. It was the only vehicle for quicker mobility for the blue collared workers as also of a few sections of white collars and students. The middle class and the lower classes back then had no other alternative as four wheeled motorized vehicles were much beyond their reach andpublic transport run by the governments or their agencies was unavailable. I remember during our college days in the mid 1950s many of our professors used to cycle down to the college. They would be immaculately dressed in three-piece suits in winters with matching felt hats. In summers, it would be shirt sleeves and sola hats, bicycles remaining as the means of commuting. Reports used to be received of Pune having the largest number of bicycles. With changing shifts in factories swarms of cyclists would choke the streets. Today, however, things have changed; it is now the motorised two-wheeler or a car; a bicycle is used, if at all, for pleasure rides.

Nonetheless, efforts are being made to popularise the use of bicycles. In Bhopal already around 10 kilometres of cycle tracks have been constructed and bicycles are on offer on rent – somewhat in the pattern of Paris and other European cities after this movement took off more than a decade ago. For us in India the weather is a great hindrance, particularly in summers when due to searing heat of the sun none would like to expose oneself to the unfriendly elements. During the rest of the year, however, cycling could be promoted for hobby as also for commuting.

That is precisely what Ciclovia, with all its multiple environmental and health benefits, would seemingly seek to suggest to us.  

*Photos from internet



Monday, June 12, 2017

From the scrapbook :: 1


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Planting spruce for “Future Library”

It was in the news recently that Oslo in Norway is going to grow trees for
A spruce tree
books that might be printed a hundred years from now. One thousand spruce saplings are being planted in a forest outside Oslo. Whenever an author produces a manuscript it would go into a time capsule kept in an Oslo library to be read by none. Only in 2114 “the trees and text will be finally turned into a book”. So, whatever Margaret Atwood, poetess and novelist, produces henceforth will all go into the capsule, only to be published in the next century.

Katie Paterson, a 36 year-old European artist initiated the “Future Library” project for spruce trees to be grown in Norway’s Nordmarka forest for the books to be printed in the next century. It is she who proposed that Margaret Atwood’s book would be the first to be capsuled for the Future Library. Another popular author David Mitchell has also handed over his manuscript to be published a hundred years from now. Mitchell is reported to have said "It's trees, it's books, it's a circle, it's pulp, it's organic matter turning into this stuff [paper] …and then words get printed on them. I love that”

Katie Paterson appears to be a very hopeful person. She seems to believe that a century from now forests will still be there and there will be still people who would like to hold a book printed on paper in their hands despite the upgrades in technology taking place seemingly at supersonic speed. She is also up to creating a press which would print these books and arrangements are being made to ensure that it remains fit enough to roll out the preserved manuscripts on paper. A periodical maintenance job is being arranged. This is nothing but a strong belief in human behavior and a way of life which, she hopes, will persist even a hundred years hence. According to Paterson, Future Library believes “there will be a forest, a book and a reader in 100 years. The choices of this generation will shape the centuries to come, perhaps in an unprecedented way.”

The project has environmental undertones. It seeks to protect at least 1000 spruce trees for a hundred years in an area where the trees may come under the axe sooner than later. Norway is happily placed in respect of forests which cover about 37% of its land area but more than 23% of it harvested for commercial purposes.

Paterson’s is undoubtedly an unique project and one can only hope that her claims that a century away people will be affected by the choices made by the current generation come true.

Penalising for wrong parking

The other day a Hindi daily reported that a fine of Rs. 8000/- was imposed on a car owner for improper parking in London.  It seems a wealthy commuter arrived in his BMW near Mayfair or some such place in the Hyde Park area and did not care to keep his car within the space indicated for parking. His car was outside the line drawn for the purpose by a mere six inches or so but the London Police charged him for violation of the laws and fined him Rs. 8000/-. For us in India it looks an incredibly huge amount for a minor violation but in British currency it must have been around 100 pounds. Though 100 Pounds would be chicken feed for a man running around in a BMW in London – a very expensive place – yet it is, to my mind, a reasonably big amount. One could even call it a heavy penalty.

Because of such stiff penalties for even minor offences one would seldom come across a vehicle parked casually without any regard to the laws as in any city of India. While in the developed countries there is what is called governance, and that too very effective, here we have none of that, mostly because of attitudes of our politicians who nurse their voters any which way, including by interfering with the policing work for all kinds of violations – even relating to violations of traffic rules. A local minister told as much to a representative team of the Bhopal Citizens’ Forum. He brazenly said if any of his constituents sought his help when in trouble with the Police he would certainly intervene regardless of whether the violator was right or wrong.

No wonder the streets of London or, for that matter, any European city one wouldn’t find encroachments on the roads or pavements. If one stood on a pavement in a street corner one would see all around roads and footpaths free of kiosks or push-carts. However, where permitted, pavements are used for outdoor cafetarias/restaurants and not for kiosks or hawkers. In Vienna I remember to have seen kiosks built by the local body well away from the Ringstrasse – a road where there is heavy traffic of locals as well as of tourists. We even had pizzas off these kiosks cooked by an Italian.

We in India are, however, very ‘tolerant’ – yes, very tolerant of all kinds of violations, particularly of civic laws. We have all the paraphernalia for enforcement of these laws but somehow these cannot be enforced largely because of vested interests and use of political influence, sometimes even of the lowest level. Somehow all the powers have gravitated towards the elected political executive and the real enforcers have been left twiddling their thumbs. Recent instances of attempts to remove illegal kiosks from near MP Nagar had to be given up because of pressure of MLAs and municipal councilors.

 Hence one can never find the same civic discipline as one finds in the developed countries of the world. Here what is needed is change of attitudes, especially of the political class. That, however, may take an eternity.


11th June 2017
*Foto of spruce tree from internet

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Destinations :: Jaipur (1980)

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A pink gate with art work in white leading into Babu Market
On our way back from Udaipur we dropped down at Jaipur. Since the railway track was of metre gauge in those days trains were necessarily slow. Hence it was a journey almost of 12 hours to cover the distance of only 430 kms. We reached early in the morning and we got out on sightseeing soon after breakfast.

Jaipur has always been known as the Pink City. Rajasthan has this peculiarity – the cities have been given different names by the colour of majority of their structures. Like Jaipur, Udaipur is known as the “White City”, Jodhpur the “Blue City” and Jaisalmer “Yellow City”.

Much need not be written about Jaipur as it is a much-visited place by Indians. It is one of the most popular tourist places in the state and its popularity prompted to make the state government work for increased
Another pink gate with beautiful art work
tourist visitations so much so that Rajasthan today gets one every three foreign tourist visiting India. Tha state has sold its forts, palaces, the rugged landscape, cuisine and colourful dresses of its people successfully both, to domestic and foreign tourists.

Among the cities of Rajasthan Jaipur has one distinctive feature and that is, it is a rare example of a planned city though its construction started as far back as in 1726. The planning for the city was based on vastu shastra and shilpa shastra, i.e the technical and specialized knowledge of town planning available to the people in those early
Hawa Mahal
days. The founder of the city Maharaja Jai Singh is said to have consulted numerous architects and books on architecture and planned the city tying it together with the help of grids The pink colour of the town came much later, during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh who had it painted pink in 1876 to welcome the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. Since then the city maintained the pink colour acquiring the epithet of “Pink City”.

 Most of the city, especially, its core, the Babu Market, wears a pink ambiance that is distinctly different from the cores of the many cities that were contemporaneous to Jaipur. Despite the heavy rush of people the market remains as attractive as ever and one occasionally comes across a typical architectural feature of Jaipur. One must hand it to the shop owners who have readily agreed to maintain the pink ambiance. The authorities, too, do their bit by painting beautiful designs in white on the pink walls of the several gates that are there as points of entry into the market. 

Very close to Babu Market is that fabulous iconic structure called Hawa Mahal that can be called symbolic of Jaipur. The amazing five-storey structure is replete with jaali and lattice work with almost a thousand windows which are called jharokhas. Built in 1799 with the idea of
Details of a jahrokha of Hawa Mahal
providing a screened view of the street in front to the women of the Detpalace observing purdah, the jaali also ensured cooling of the insides during the hot summers, and Jaipur, with a desert very close to it, can really be hot in summers. The frontal view of the palace offers a honeycomb-like view of intricately worked windows with lattice work and a miniature window in each. The whole effect is captivating besides being very photogenic.

We gave a pass to the Jantar Mantar having seen the one in New Delhi. Instead we proceeded to Amer Fort 11 miles away. Amer was, in fact, the capital before Maharaja Jai Singh decided to build Jaipur. A move became necessary for reasons, among others, of scarcity of water. It is
Albert Hall, Jaipur
such a pity that a Maharaja had to leave a lived-in palace imaginatively constructed, opulently decorated and impeccably furnished because of certain physical constraints. It is built in four levels on the Aravalis with a small lake in front. It is supposedly the most attractive tourist destination of Jaipur and, from all evidences, it actually is. We saw loads of foreign tourists being ferried to the Fort or Palace as the Amer Mahal is called on elephants’ back. They are dropped after negotiating a massive gate in front of the entrance that is called the Ganesh Gate which is intricately decorated.

 Built in the 16th Century by Raja Man Singh, who later became the famous general of Emperor Akbar’s army, Amer Palace is known for its artistic flavour with a mix of Hindu and Rajput architectural styles.  Constructed of sandstone and marble here one finds the Diwane Khas
Amer Fort
and Diwane Aam, a la the Red Fort of Delhi. In addition there is a Sukh Niwas which has a channel to make water flow along to keep the king, his queen and mistresses in cool comfort during the hot summers. Of all the structures, however, it is the Sheesh Mahal which walks away with the cake. It has beautifully painted walls with clever mix of glass all over. It is the same place where the Bollywood film Mughal e Azam’s dance sequence was shot with late Madhubala lip-syncing in the run-away popular song “pyar kiya to darna kya” sung by Lata Mangeshker.


Ganesh Gate in amer Fort
While there are many more sights to see we had to avoid them for want of time. But, we came across a very attractive building which is named after Prince Albert, later Edward VII, who laid its foundation stone. The building houses a museum – In fact it is the State Museum displaying the local artifact, textiles, carpets, handicraft, sculpture, gems, jewellery etc. The building is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architectural style and having been constructed more than a hundred years ago wears its age well.

7th June 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Bhopal Notes :: 54 :: CM’s utter disdain for a dying lake


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Dead fish floating in Upper Lake, Bhopal
The so called Bhopal “Sthapna Diwas” was celebrated with fanfare in the evening of last Thursday at the Boat Club which sits close to the bank of the Upper Lake. At the very outset it needs to be re-stated that this lake is a wetland of international repute and has been declared a Ramsar Site and is an Important Bird Area. The custodian of the Lake, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, draws water from it for supplies to a little less than half the population of the city.

Having set the record straight one has to say it emphatically that the ceremony – unwarranted and uncalled for – was in complete disregard of the dire condition of the Lake where, of late, fish have been dying for want of adequate oxygen. It is highly polluted and the assembly of thousands of people on its banks, as has become a matter of regular occurrence, is against all environmental norms for protection of a prime wetland. On top of all this was the display of fireworks – again uncalled for and unwarranted – was highly ill-advised. While all the carbon of the fireworks was blown towards the lake and eventually settling down on its waters the fire on the hill opposite the Boat Club caused avoidable destruction of the surrounding flora and fauna.

(I have written elsewhere about the Sukhna Lake of Chandigarh where nothing is allowed on its banks – no food stalls or kiosks or any other establishment. Recently a massive housing project in its catchments was disallowed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court. So much care is being taken, unlike the lake of Bhopal, of the Sukhna Lake, a lake that was created only around sixty years ago, when its waters are not used for drinking and the Lake is not a wetland of international importance.)

It has been noticed for some time that the government has been wearing its total apathy for this thousand-year old lake on its sleeve and its progressive degradation. It has not released for the last three years the report of the Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology on conservation of the Lake and its catchments where constructions are reportedly progressing without let or hindrance. While the Municipal Corporation is busy in making cosmetic changes in its surroundings it does nothing to prevent sewers to empty into it. Even the government does not do anything about building sewage treatment plants (STPs) for these drains whereas it has assured STPs for all the drains that empty into River Narmada.

 The latest big bash on the Lake, therefore, shows utter disdain of the government and its chief executive for the most valuable asset of the people of Bhopal. One does not know who cleared the programme but, I am sure, the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation would neither have the power nor the money to mount such an elaborate celebration. There must have been political directions and a diktat from the government which, apparently, couldn’t care less if the water body was further damaged.

 This was the first celebration of the so called “Sthapna Diwas” which, according to reports, commemorates the merger of Bhopal 68 years ago in the Indian Union. All through the past 67 years the government did not remember the date of merger and, never felt the need to celebrate it. Suddenly, out of the blue, this year it decided to hold a celebration. Obviously it is a ploy to delude the people. One programme associated with the Narmada Seva Yatra had to be cancelled on account of the sudden demise of the Central Environment Minister who was to attend it. The government was, therefore, apparently looking for an excuse to hold a big bash and they fished out this long forgotten date.

Looks like, the chief minister has been under pressure for some time and he has been trying to divert attention from the allegations against him of involvement of the members of his immediate family in illegal sand mining. The Opposition, the Indian National Congress, has gone hammer and tongs after him and, for once, has been right in effectively mounting on the chief minister a direct attack. And so has a former minister of the chief minister’s cabinet who has filed a case against sand mining in Narmada with the Bhopal Bench of the National Green Tribunal.  

There are numerous issues involved with these celebrations. The first question that occurs in one’s mind is why, out of the blue, these celebrations were held when during the last 68 years nobody ever thought of celebrating it. There has to be motive behind it. One newspaper has gone on to describe it as the day when people of Bhopal won “freedom”. But it has not been explained as to why the attainment of “freedom” was not celebrated all these years This is nothing but spreading untruth and obfuscating the fact of merger of Bhopal state. While it is true that the then Nawab had procrastinated on deciding merger of his principality into the Indian Union but eventually he was left with no other alternative.

To say that the people of Bhopal won their freedom on 1st June 1949 is nothing but an attempt to muddle the issue. Before that date the people of Bhopal had as much or as little freedom as those in other princely states that merged with the Union. Besides, if the date of merger of Bhopal needs to be celebrated, the government should also celebrate the anniversaries of merger of Gwalior, Indore and numerous other former princely states that merged into the Indian Union. After all Madhya Pradesh was constituted of only former princely states barring the areas of former British India like Mahakaushal

In point of fact, from all evidences the “Sthapna Diwas” as an ill-thought out celebration which wasted a few crores from government exchequer and, in the process, dumped tons of pollutants, including, carbon into the Lake.


I am posting this on the eve of the World Environment Day in the hope that better sense will prevail among the politicians and bureaucrats to take care and protect this gift of legendary Raja Bhoj who was so concerned about water needs of his subjects more than a thousand years ago.