Sunday, March 24, 2013

Patnaik's road journey to the varsity...

Assam’s administrative head, Governor Janaki Ballabh Patnaik visited Silchar last week. He deliberated on the important issue of women’s rights and safety in a workshop at the Assam University campus.
His Excellency JB Patnaik addressing the students of Assam University, Photo Courtesy: Samayik Prasanga 
It is not unnatural for a Governor to visit one of the top educational institutions of the state. It is not unnatural either for him to articulate his astute views on grave issues confronting the modern society. But the mode of travel that the veteran politician was forced to take on his way to the university from the airport did add an interesting twist to the tale.

After reaching Silchar in an Air India aircraft from Guwahati, His Excellency was informed that the Indian Air Force helicopter in which he was supposed to fly to the university campus had not yet landed. Finally the helicopter, supposed to come from Tezpur, could not land apparently due to bad weather.

Therefore, the Governor of Assam hit the dusty roads of the valley to reach his destination. None of us really know what he might have felt undertaking that journey, but somewhere inside, we all did feel a little bit pleased that the titular head of the state did get a taste of the pains the common man endures every single day in Barak Valley.
When Patnaik visited Silchar last year, we reported how the administration worked overnight to repair some of the perennially dilapidated roads of the town. We also criticised how his scheduled trip to Karimganj was cancelled at the last moment because the Silchar – Badarpur road was in extremely bad state. Annoyed by the state of affairs, the former Odisha Chief Minister had even  summoned the top officials to take stock of the condition of the roads and the other public services. However, when he came again this year, he probably could not notice any change.

The state government run administrative machinery in the three districts of Barak Valley is like the theatre of the absurd where nothing seems to go right and the wait for change is absolutely endless.  People die every day on the highway to Guwahati, students fall sick every day on the way to the university and half the town suffers from dust allergy, yet nothing changes, no one cares.

As per media reports,  Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India will be visiting Silchar next May to attend the convocation ceremony of Assam University. Much like the other VIPs visiting the town, Mukherjee will surely not take the road. Rather he would be made to take the aerial route so that he fails to catch a glimpse of the miseries down below. But we can only hope that the nation’s first Bengali President will spare a few moments beyond the official protocol to speak to the students and get an idea of their problems.

If the VIPs do not bother to extend their itineraries beyond the official programmes and try to catch the pulse of the masses, then these high profile visits would count for nothing. Places like Silchar or the Barak Valley as a whole figure nowhere in the priority list of the rulers of this big and wide nation. Therefore, whenever the top administrative honchos visit these areas, they must try to interact with the people and know about their issues.  

After all, if the nation’s President suddenly summons the Deputy Commissioner and gives him an earful on the state of affairs, it surely would help in waking up the inefficient monsters of the valley in to some kind of action.     

On a lighter note, let us hope this time at least, the state administration will get the road to the university repaired, before the President’s visit. After all, who knows, Mukherjee’s Chopper might also choose to go the Patnaik way.  But if we know our bureaucrats and politicians well, rather than repairing the road, they would work overtime to ensure that the Chopper is available!!!!

1 comment:

  1. His Excellency JB Patnaik....It is not necessary to mention "His Excellency" before the name of the governor. Governors in India are wasting people's money, they are not necessary in Indian political system as we all know that Governors are just a representative of the ruling party at the centre. This post should be abolished.



Silchar through the Lense