Munsyari. The 22nd Week of the year, commencing from the 25th of May, was full of surprises and in more than one sense quite historic. Taken as a whole the entire month has been overcast, dense with rain-bearing clouds and nights chilliest in the living memory of many septugenarian Munsyarians ! While Hyderabad tipped 44 degree Celcius here the locals and the tourists mostly kept indoors enjoying the bracing cool winds coming down after embracing the majestic, snow-capped Panchachuli and Raj-rambha peaks. The Hasling, at the door of the Johar valley, welcomed all families moving further north-wards towards the High Himalayan villages, where they will spend next few months.
My presence here has certainly lightened the burden of the likes of Dr Raghubir Chand, the co-ordinator, Kumaon University, of a five-nation international project that strides many discipline. Uttarakhand in India and Nepal are two Asian regions that cover mountain regions, which are being subjected to some kind of comparison.The string of research scholars, at various stages of their research projects, both in the French University of Paris, and a few of our own. My past four years of closer contacts with the academics of a few shades also has started making me more comfortable, looking at life from their lenses. Inside a month it was the turn of a second academic, and agriculture economist, Dr Nadege GARAMBOIS, who came over to supervise the field work of her Research Fellow, Marion le Bihan, in Munsyari for the last thee months interviewing and observing mountain farming. After a brief over-view of her Institutes role ( Agro Paris Tech, some thing like our IITs, a part of Paris University ) we got into discussing agriculture, mountain agriculture, in particular. ay villages are covered in Marion's beat, my village Sarmoli, Sankhudhara, Bunga and as far as Suring. For a mountain region I would rate this as quite a beat.
Contrary to the general impression the French investigators were quite pleased with the potato, ginger and soya seed distribution efforts of the Horticulture department. Readers familiar with Munsyari know it as the best production centre for its organic potatoes and kidney-beans. Munsyari's fabled Balati Potato farm is well-known all over the potato -belt of Champawat, even the home-place of our Speaker mr Kunjwal. The Kufri-long has been replaced by new strains and pressure remains for Munsyari potato seed. Soya-bean, Dr Nadege was informed has been tried in these parts ever sine this writer commenced his service, with his agriuclture training at the Pantanagar University. Local kala-bhatt is the only soya-bean that the hill-man will indulge in but not the American, yellow-kind. That strain does not suit the Indian palette. the push given to soya-baen cultivation during late 1980s did result in its introduction, but the imported stuff at best was meant for the Lal-kuam Soya-bean factory, no closed for long time. This writer's many innings with the Co-operative department, and efforts to organize soya-bean co-operatives, the failed Lal Kuan Soya-bean factory, flashed back memory of days in the filed, both in the Garhwal districts and the dreary heat-dust- swept eastern Uttar Pradesh, and of course Bundelkhand's burning rocky- landscapes. Etawa's potato glut, crashing of World Bank assisted Cold stores, all became a part of sharing, how the potato of Munsyari is a success and Etawa's an invitation potato-glut. Narendra Yadav, who has recently joined Munsyari block as the Potato Development Officer to hear about the positive vibes that have gone into researches of the field-surveys. he added how the potato-growers have been taken to the successful experiments of the Lahul Potato Co-op Federation locations and a similar federation, in its early days.
Discussion spilled over to the Litchi of Qwiti, renewed efforts at Tea -cultivation, with which this writer has been intimately involved during his Hill Secretary days. The good news for the writer was that out of the 40 apple grown-plants he had planted, barring two, the rest are likely to revive, come November and this writer plans to learn the first farming lessons in seasonal pruning and application of paste ! Later, the young dynamic Block Pramukh, Narendra Rawat, also shared and validated the good work that has been done by the Mobile Team of the Horticulture department, at Munsyari, Madkot and elsewhere. Surprizes indeed, as the validation came from 'external evaluators'. It was also quite pleasing to hold discussion with young state officials, who can converse with confidence, and in ENGLISH !
Munsyari Greeshma Mahotsava
Munsyari Greeshma Mahotsava, a purely local effort, for which the grandiose Tourism Development Department had one spent lakhs on commissioning Tourism Development Plans, and the Plans once on the open, failed to pass muster at the hands of officers who hailed from the regions itself, who at that point of time were virtually at the helm of official ladder ( this writer ) and former DG Tourism, who also hails from the same area, Surendra Singh Pangtey; opened today with the saddest announcement that their application for a small assistance to hold this event has been REJECTED by the Minister ! REJECTED, well that is same thing as being marginalised. Places like Munsyari have great resilience, these places are quite used to live WITHOUT GOVERNMENTS, GOVERNMENTS OF ANY KIND ! that is the general story all over India, take the North Eastern States, why even the state of Uttarakhand was formed on paper at leats, to address such marginalization in huge states like Uttar Pradesh.
So the Munsyari Greeshm Mahotsava commences with a sour note, made sourer by a straight REJECTION. It is always better, this writer consoled the organizers, to expect not anything from the government and feel better, if something materializes.They are also told that you have to be closer to Dehradun to be noticed and your main fault is that you are the farthest. It does not make much difference even if you now feel upgraded as a Chief Minister's Constituency ! By such examples it is easier to explain phenomenons like out-migrations, marginalizations and indifference. That way Munsyari is a good training ground, to examplify Mountain Marginalization, Neglect etc, nothwithstanding many consider Uttarakhand today as a Mountain State. !
Girls from the community-run Munsyari Public School welcome their young Block Pramukh as the Chief Guest, they have a band consisting of Girls Only. The Greeshma Mahotsava is specially celebrating 150 Anniversary of Nain Singh Rawat, one of the greatest Indian of the 19th Century India, who was conferred C.I.E. by a grateful British Empire for his services to Geography and Science. The Jyoti-Devindra Hall, again constructed by the efforts of a charity of the local Johari Shauka community, is plastered with the banners of this great Son of the Soil.
After the dampening news of the REJECT of their application for a modest assitance the good news was that a local Munsyari student, Soumya Srivastava, daughter of a teacher in Munsyari GIC, has secured the First Place among all Girl students in just announced High School results, and Second position among All Students who appeared this year ! He father has been serving in the local GI for the last 19 years and is a proud father, as well as a teacher.Entire Munsyari is ecstatic with the news and feliciation galore is lined up honouring Soumya and her family of parents , and a younger brother.
Soumya Tops with 96.8 % & 11 / 11 GICs without Principals !
Narendra Rawat, the young energetic Block Pramukh of Munsyari Block, soon after the felicitation function, during the Question & Answer Session, that is a speciality of Munsyari public functions, asked Sanjay Srivastava, a question that embarrassed the sarkari teaching community no end, " How is that your daughter Soumya topped the Girls List of the state, but you teach in Government Inter College, and your younger son, in Munsyari Public School, a community-run school by the Shauka Community ' ! Then he went on to disclose that Munsyari today has some 140 villages and in as many as 77 schools, all sarkari schools, are on the verge of closure because of no-students.
The discussion obviously drifted away from Soumya Srivastava' success to every thing that government runs, is assumed to be doomed to failure ? Examples of Vivekanand Collge, where Soumya the heroine of the day studies, or Munsyari Public School, where her younger brother Shikhar studies, were given, even the impressive success of the Mar Thoma Mission-run school at Kimchaura came up for comment, where students are joining in droves, even though there exists a sarkari school, next door. Majority felt that the government education- system has simply collapsed. In another recent piece this writer has shown ( Becoming Part of Solution, II , Garhwal Post ), the Citizens of Munsyari, when they visited the Block Shikha Adhikari cum Deputy Education Officers's Office on a fact-finding mission, they were aghast to learn that out of 11 GIC every GIC was without a Principal. One just wondered when the Education Minister Naithani recently came accompanying aDoli Yatra, as far as Munsyari, was he informed that in this border block every GIC is without its Principal !
Talk of Mountain Marginalization, Munsyari welcomes you ! Soumya Srivatava from Vivekanand Topping States' Girl's High School Merit List read with all 19 GIC without Principals, including the GGIC, makes quite a copy for educationists of this state. This writer hopes that readers now stand enlightened about the 'first' part of his 'surprizes first' section. Anything Sarkari is close to becoming a synonym of Failure, or Failed, at least in these parts of this country. Does it also already mean 'Corrupt and Rotten', as well, one just wonders ?
Munsyari Adventure Sports Institute and Girls Football Teams
The sour taste left behind by REJECTION by Tourism Department and all 11 GICs doing without Principals, the end of a rather distressing week was considerably enlivened by the prospects of an Adventure Sports Institute coming up at the Balati Farm and the just completed training of 32 plus young girls in Football by professional local coaches. Munsyari, besides its sweet potatoes, kidney-beans and jambu also boasts of a string of Everesters, both male and female, including the current all-India records holder, the five-timer Dharmsaktu, and four Padm Shree, including the First from Kumaon, Laxman Singh Jangpangi, the Indian trade Agent.Well, if you do not have roads even after 67 years of Indian Independence, if you have to beg the BRO and ITBP for being rescued, if your 60 year old grand-ma's and 6 year old toddlers are still made to take the hard-risky high-road to your ancestral villages, I guess, bestowing of Padm Shrees and Arjun Award for mountaineering, is due compensation by a kind Government of India ! What a crying shame and one wonders when hordes of foreigners return back to their home what image of local and national government they carry ? Tourism department then REJECTS your request for holding Greeshm Mahostsava, which you do not deserve. May be they open their purse-strings for Funerals of those who dies in accidents and road-falls, on way to their ancestral villages ?.
Undaunted the Munsyarians, as they have mastered the art of living without governments and states, for centuries now, continue discussing the pros and cons of imitating a NIM, or HIM, which they know quite well, hardened mountaineers, as most of them, are. Should the IMF be allowed to lord it over as they have always done, bringing even mineral- water, guides, porters, taxis, clothings, kits, you just name it, from Delhi in large caravans, or should we repeat what a newly born Uttarakhand had done in 2004, bringing out their own Orders regulating all expeditions, making it compulsory that all posters, guides, must be local, most of the purchases should be as far as possible made locally.Premier Modi swears by Co-operative Federalism, partnership between the Union and the States, will the present bureaucratic set-up be even aware what these expeditions bring to the state, where more than 90% of climbable peaks exist, except rescue missions, expansive searches for lost members of expeditions in unpredictable mountains, with avalanches ? Very informed discussion engages every one present.
An Adventure Sports Institute, in a place, which produced human giants, the likes of Nain Singh and Kishen Singh, who literally " Walked the Mountains" ( a short film by this writer's sister- in- law, Mrs Kaul ), scores of men and women Everesters and Arjun Award winners, Padm Shrees, is it an adequate compensation for, a rejected applications for a small grant,to hold a Greeshm Mahotsava, no Principals in any of the 11 Government Inter Colleges that exist in the Block, 77 primary schools on the verge of closure for lack of students, a 65 km extremely poor and risky road along the Gori even 67 years after becoming independent, for Munsyari, one is left reflecting on this disturbing thought ? 150 Anniversary of the Explorations made by Nain Singh, the main theme of this Greesm Mahotsava, is going to discuss many issues like the ones covered by this report during the forthcoming week. As the things stand, the Government is not likely to emerge with an improved image, as the days of the Mahotsava roll by. Chief Minister Harish Rawat is slated to inaugurate the Diamond Jubilee Football Tournament, organized by the Johar Club, yet another example of " Doing Without the Government", interestingly enough.
The three visuals that accompany this report are all good examples of " Doing Without Government "- the Munsyari Way !