Remapping the Country
“Until yesterday, it was the outsider who we blamed for ravaging the forests, sucking our blood and thwarting our ambitions. Tomorrow, it will be one of us...”
The words, slashed in red, onaroughschoolwallinDindsarivillageinUttarkashi,conveythesenseofintrospection that pervades the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh today. People here don’t need to be persuaded to discuss Uttarakhand, but the Centre’s agreementtocarveoutaseparatestatehasraisedthedebatetoafeverishpitch. Everywhere— from the dank tead habas of Nainitalto smokylog fires outside mountains hacks in Pauri—sit huddled groups in animated conversation. Even the congenital monsoon land slides or the unusual leopard menace this year don’t divert attention from a heady brew of Uttarakh and politics.
You would think that after years of having the door slam in their faces, Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s decision to put out the welcome mat would make the Uttarakh and is exuberant.Instead,thePahadi’sinherentwarinessprevails. The worst may be over, but people here are busy trying to guess what the next stumbling block to actual statehood might be: The United Front Government could fall, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly could do a volte face,or anagitation could start against the division of the state.