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by Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada
(The decades-long issue of full statehood comes back to haunt Delhi as the assembly elections draw near. Although much remains to be seen on how the contesting parties address this effectively, the author takes a forthright view with some interesting analogy to ponder upon. – Editor)
Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis
Having lived through rules of Kings for centuries and then Britishers, it seems that feudalism has set in our genes. The tendency to power grabbing and not let it go also recurs time and again. The spirit of democracy and federalism suffers in the process. The issue of statehood for Delhi is a case in point. Elections for Delhi assembly are around the corner and this issue has come into sharp focus again.
Delhi – the national capital territory (NCT) of India – has a contorted situation. It is a Union Territory (by definition, a piece of land directly ruled by the Union or Central government), but also has an elected legislative assembly. Thus, It has an elected Chief Minister who runs the administration, while the lieutenant governor (LG) -appointed by President- acts as the head of the state. But, paradoxically, 3 powers lie with Central government: security (police), babudom (bureaucracy) and control of land. As a result, Delhi police reports to Union Home Minister and not Delhi’s Chief Minister. The anomaly was amply highlighted when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – feeling hamstrung over control of law and order- decided to sit on a dharna against his own police!
Aam Aadmi Party- a major player in upcoming assembly elections- has from its inception advocated complete statehood for Delhi. Securing a complete statehood to Delhi has also been on the agenda of BJP since decades and Modi government after being sworn in last year had been actively mulling on this idea as a pre-poll gift to Delhi voters. However, it seems Prime Minister Narendar Modi was advised to control the impulse, fearing that in case Arvind kejriwal becomes the Chief Minister of Delhi, the privileged control over Delhi will slip away from him. Kiran Bedi after being announced as the Chief Ministerial candidate (which obviously is very different than actually becoming a C.M.) by BJP immediately became non-committal on the issue of Delhi statehood, literally reversing local state unit’s stand. Who would like to displease the masters at the center!
No one was better positioned than Congress to resolve the issue of granting full statehood to Delhi. Sheila Dixit was Congress Chief Minister of Delhi for 15 years along with Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Center for a good deal of 10 years. But in her case, neither the spirit was willing, nor was the flesh strong! When Arvind Kejriwal exposed her duplicity, Dixit said that she had written letters to Home Minister, implying that it was a mere lip service.
Puducherry is another example that carries the dual burden of being a Union Territory yet having a state assembly. Its Chief Minister too has expressed the pain of carrying this burdensome dual legacy!
What is the trend in other parts of world? After all, this question does arise when it comes to ‘city capitals’! Let us look at the situation of Washington DC- the capital of USA. Like Delhi, it also is not a state. Washington comes under federal jurisdiction, thereby directly controlled by Congress. Statehood will give D.C. the representation in Congress, which they lack currently (at least Delhi is represented in Parliament by seven Members of Parliament). When American constitution was written more than 200 years back, they created a district (capital) that the federal government could administer itself for its convenience. The apprehension was that if a state owns it- under the federal system (which is very robust in USA) – the state could create hindrances. It is bizarre that the most powerful Congress should decide on some of the local issues of Washington DC, which can be easily relegated to its local mayoral government. While residents of Washington DC too continue to aspire for a complete statehood, nevertheless, the police remain a state subject for them, meaning thereby, the local police are controlled by Mayor and municipality. However, the federal law enforcement agencies (example: United States Capitol Police) have jurisdiction in some parts of the Washington D.C.
The concept of federalism gained traction in India in 1990s when coalition era started erupting. Before that union governments had very centralist attitude and public at large never found it odd. Indira Gandhi is a prime example known for concentrating power and disregarding the federal spirit of our country. Imposition of emergency in 1970s is a valid proof of her tendencies. A hang over effect of centralist attitude is reflected in India by clamping president rule by dissolving elected governments in a whimsical manner. The system of appointing district collectors (DCs) by state governments reflects the tendency of centralizing powers and goes against the spirit of boosting local governments. Delhi also has been a victim of these vagaries. It was granted a statehood status in 1951 and Mr. Brahma Prakash was the first ever Chief Minister elected in 1952. However, in 1955, Delhi was converted into a Union Territory and thus legislative assembly was dissolved. It was not until 1993, when the legislative assembly was re-constituted and Madan Lal Khurana (BJP) became the elected Chief Minister of Delhi.
The journey for Delhi is, however, still incomplete!
In next few days, Delhi will see a new Chief Minister. It needs a full-fledged Chief Minister and not a ‘lame duck’ Chief Minister. By acquiring full statehood, Delhi will have a Chief Minister who can administer law and order with police under his control and can make decisions on appointment and transfers of bureaucracy. Separate law enforcement agencies can be created to provide services in places where Union government operates.
A true ‘Swaraj’ will only prevail in Delhi when power is vested in the elected representatives. Let us not asphyxiate the principle of federalism by procrastinating the issue of Delhi statehood. Taking a cue, will Kiran Bedi stand up and declare that Delhi actually deserves a full statehood on a priority basis!
The author is a Chicago-based political commentator. This op-ed is an exclusive article in his series Musings from Chicago. You can reach out to him at e-mail ID: email@example.com and on Twitter @drMunishRaizada.
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City