Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Nation Must Know About Andamans!

The Nation Must Know About Andamans!

By Zubair Ahmed

I couldn't watch the Times Now Newshour debate on 28th Jan 2016 and 1st Feb 2016, as I don't watch television nowadays. I saw both the debates on youtube today morning. As an Andaman Islander, I am a little confused how to respond. Whether I should be happy that the tourist footfall is increasing or should be unhappy for the corporators and similar folks wasting taxpayers money shamelessly by paying visits to our Islands.

Undoubtedly, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a dream tourism destination and also a place of pilgrimage. Even Baba Ramdev mesmerized by its beauty has imposed himself on us as our Brand Ambassador. Now, he will promote our Islands. Lighthouse tourism or Island-based Yog Tourism without Baba holding any stake in it might be the bottom-line. That's the entrepreneurial spirit!

I don't know about junkets, but I am quite sure that the parliamentarians, legislators, corporators, and even Panchayat representatives from our country know very well that October to March is the best season to study Andamans.  They all come, and mostly hold a meeting with the concerned department authorities, at Megapode Nest Conference Hall with a banner depicting the purpose of their visit and then they "also" pay visit to places of tourist interest, nay, historical importance.

Most important item on any itinerary of all these committees and study groups is a visit to Havelock Island, where a postal stamp, a toilet block, a changing room, or a mobile tower is dedicated to the nation by the visiting dignitary. And its ensured that they interact with the PRI members of the Island too. Last couple of months were chock-a-block with Ministers and other dignitaries of different hues.

What prompted me to pen down this blog is not the junkets that our elected members or the bureaucrats undertake to the Islands, but the way the panelists on the channel debate was referring to the Islands. One panelist Mr Shailesh Gandhi former CIC and an RTI activist was heard yelling on top of his voice that there is nothing to study in Andamans except fish! And that too if we take a glass bottom boat and see the corals.

Yes, I do agree that the Mumbai Corporators were on a junket and their itinerary was changed top to bottom the instant they landed in Port Bair to make it appear like a study tour. In fact, a loss to the travel agent who had chalked out a perfect tour programme for the visiting corporators. They were forced to attend a few meetings here and there as an eyewash.

But to say that there is nothing to learn in Andamans is a bit an arrogant statement. I would suggest all states to send study groups to see how the Islands apart from its natural bounties have nurtured a society with a cultural mix which is in many ways a role model for the country to follow.

Our parliamentarians and legislators should learn how peaceful and tranquil the Islands are.  Inspite of origins of different regions, the communal and linguistic harmony is something the Mumbai corporators need to learn from the Islands. No language or religion tries to dominate or smother others. Casteism in true sense is just a column in various forms that we get from mainland.

The day the corporators from Mumbai were in Port Blair, we heard that they filed complaint being left without any security. In fact, we felt the heat next day. While going towards Sinclairs, to have tea and vada from a small tea joint, next to the hotel, the stretch from Marina Park to Govt Press were barricaded with more policemen than joggers. When enquired a constable said that the bandobust is due to VIP movement.

One request the Islanders would like to make to these corporators is that the Islands, though located in a strategic location is the most safest and secure place in the country. Nobody cares, if a VIP takes a stroll on the road. No one will even notice them, forget harming them in any way. The sense of safety and security in the Islands is unparalleled. When you are on a visit to study, kindly don't teach us your sense of security and bandobast, which we are not used to.

Whatever, you have to learn, you may learn it from the nature here. Nature provides as well as takes care of the Islanders here. No city can afford the extent of rain that the Islands receive. And, it doesn't flood at many places not due to any artificial intervention. The topography of the Islands, and its hilly nature helps the water to drain into the sea. A few bottlenecks here and there are the contribution of mankind.

Though, the Islands faced one of the worst disasters in 2004, as of now, the level of disaster preparedness is quite high. It's a truth even acknowledged by a visiting "study team" from Japan. However, the nature of disasters the Islands probably face is still a challenge. Though, comparatively, loss of life in disasters is minimal in the Islands.

Apart from the Corporators, what the panelists can also learn from the Islands is the level of tolerance and patience of the Islanders. Their laid back lifestyle is not something which they have learned from the nature. It's gradually ingrained by the system of governance. In fact they are bureaucrat-resilient. The time they spend on jetties waiting for ferries or boats have made them patient and tolerant. Don't teach them the impatient and intolerant Mumbai local train culture.

You need to be very sure what you learn from the Islands and what you don't teach the Islanders. Take a lesson of harmonious living without any kind of discrimination and please don't teach us the poisonous tirades that you practice.

By the way, did the  visiting dignitaries ever noticed, how indifferent the Islanders were about the purpose of their visit? In fact, when the Nation was busy trying to know the intention of the Mumbai corporators' visit to the Islands, the Islanders were as usual patiently waiting for ferry on the jetties totally unconcerned about the hullabaloo.

That's one thing the Nation may want to Know if they can find the time! 

1 comment:

Advaitaa Homes said...

Very impressive details about the beautification of the Andaman. Thanks for sharing this post.

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