Sunday, January 8, 2012

EDITORIAL: Ring in the New

VOL: 35 | ISSUE: 23 | FRIDAY | 6 JANUARY 2012

Ring in the New

Standing at the threshold of a new year it is customary to take stock of gains and losses of the year gone by. We would like to take up such an exercise. A little more detailed studies would follow not so much for bringing accusations and mudslinging but to determine our strength and weaknesses so that necessary course corrections are made to learn from the past and move ahead into the future. 
We are in January. A change of guard at the top of the helms is expected this year. Rumour mills are working overtime predicting auspicious dates as well as names. However, the Island politicians were never seen as desperate as the Lieutenant Governor to retain their position and chair.
On the political front, Bishnu is back in BJP and the short-lived honeymoon with TMC is over. If BJP had its Jan Chetna Yatra, Congress had its 7th Political Conference. Otherwise, at state level, both the major parties were not seen addressing any policy issues of the Islands and rather concentrated more on highlighting civic issues, which its city and local units could have done. Smaller parties remained in hibernation and shall continue till 2014, when new combinations and permutations will be formed for the Loksabha polls.
On our sunrise sectors, all these have to move out of the official files, meetings and seminars to the ground. We have been hearing about it for much long. Now is the time to watch it delivering the goods. Tourism definitely needs a separate corporation to manage it keeping in view that it benefits the Islands in general and promotes employment opportunities in a large scale.
The department of fisheries and its new found mascot Tuna Mission needs to be revisited with a pragmatic mindset.
Knee-jerk actions, stereotype plans and programmes, dispirited officials have to make way for dynamism that would transform these departments into real workhorses capable of realising the dreams of an economic resurgence of the islands.
Economic resurgence! Nobody talks about it. Least of all the politicians! These islands luxuriate on doles from the centre. It has gone on for much too long. We are sitting on immeasurable marine wealth that beckons exploitation. Agriculture is a virgin area so to say. Imaginative plans have to be drawn up. People have grown apathetic to agriculture. They have to be reassured that agriculture by itself could be a paying proposition; one can lead a luxurious life on a 5-acre plot. Seeing is believing! There is no dearth of such success stories.
There are other developmental issue too, connectivity for instance. In an island system, water transport occupies the prime position. It is in shambles; a new vessel has joined the crippled fleet, but not pressed into service. Nicobar district is getting alienated because of a faulty shipping system. Shipping sector is running at a colossal loss. It can't go on. We are yet to hear about the integrated transport corporation for the Islands.
Criticisms are not meant to denigrate or run down the administration but to energize it to do better. The media, the fourth estate is as much part of the democratic set up as the other three arms. It also works towards the same end - welfare of the people. It is not always possible for the authorities to feel the pulse of the people through official reports and briefings.  Media fills that gap - to give a feel of the realities on the ground. Not that the medium itself is always above board. Sections of the media too might have its own agenda and vested interests. But going through a cross-section, one can remove the grain from the chaff and find the pulse of the people.
The people of the territory are beholden to the Lt. Governor for their present welfare and future security. If he fails; the people fail, the projects fail and the future gets frozen for a time till someone else de-freezes it. It is therefore, the vested interest of the people to ensure that the administrator succeeds.
We have been reporting negative stories but with a positive outlook. Our endeavour has been and shall remain to make these islands a better place to live. With malice towards none!
Let us hope the year 2012 brings happy tidings for all of us.  

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