I spent early years in Uttarakhand and I have nice memories about state. I see a lot of ‘unrealised potential’ on the canvas called Uttarakhand. But there should have been more colours into it. I see our people had to travel inside and outside country not necessarily for doing best jobs. They are struggling for making two ends meet. This is migration just for survival. Migration though is not always bad. Some states have prospered from remittance and the standards of living have gone up.
In case of Uttarakhand, basic education facilities are lacking and the system fails to meet the expectations of the youngsters. There are sectors where one can feel that development has taken place. New buildings, new roads are visible. Tele communications connectivity is fairly good. But beneficiaries are few; the standard of living has not gone up, considerably. The common people of Uttarakhand are living the similar life which I had seen many years back say early 80s.
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In Mumbai I hear people saying Uttarakhandis are sweet but they can’t take care of themselves. Just because highlanders hail from a small state and are not aggressive? It really hurts! People in Uttarakhand have high integrity and they deserve more. Agreed we are comparatively a younger state and are forced to deal with several teething problems. I am not saying that successive governments have not done enough but yes I expect that we deserve more.
We should understand that our biggest strength is our human resources.
Uttarakhand is lucky in a way that it hardly faces a situation unlike many states where implementing an idea becomes a big challenge owing to difference among various groups. In our state people are sensible and you can align them easily for a cause. Take a case of women; they are powerful decision makers, lead families from front. People are hopeful for good times ahead; they are looking positively and therefore the coming government should make an effort to galvanize locals and channelize their energy.
Tourism is one sector that needs a big and focused push. See, I don’t want to have unregulated tourism in my state. At present the model of tourism in state is abusive — there is no check on type of activities being carried in the name of promoting tourism.
I would neither like to see the empty packets of chips around alpine meadows nor tourists posting pictures with a bottle of wine, on top of a mountain.
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The state needs to adopt a model for the guests who care about mother nature, serenity and local culture. Besides, the state should promote an environment-friendly industry.
I am not an expert on the subject but I feel employment generation for young ones is very important. The state can take a cue from many small European nations, which have similar geographic conditions like Uttarakhand has.
Prasoon Joshi is a lyricist, poet and ad guru. He heads McCann World group Asia Pacific
(As told to Anupam Trivedi)