Gurdaspur Diary: Sarkar Aapke Dwar for border area residents


Change is the essence of growth. If you do not change with the times, you do not grow. The moment Himanshu Aggarwal joined as the new Deputy Commissioner last week, he knew there were many things that needed a change. One of them was to take the bureaucracy closer to villagers living near the International Border (IB). He was secure in the thought that true India lives in villages. So, he thought, why not take the District Administrative Complex (DAC), the official seat of power, to the doorsteps of the villagers for a day. This venture was rechristened ‘Absolute Border Area Development (Abad)’ scheme. Actually, he wanted to be the change that he wished to see. Hence, he embarked upon ‘Aabad.’ Villages on the International Border seldom get the benefit of government schemes. That is because nobody tells them they exist. It is not that just teachers and doctors posted near the IB seldom go to their offices. Actually, nobody is willing to go because of lack of facilities of all kinds. The DC decided to shift all the departments —-health, transport, agriculture, fisheries, dairy development and so on and so forth —- to Dera Baba Nanak. This is a place from where Pakistani Rangers — the equivalent of India’s BSF— are visible to the naked eye. So much for its proximity to the border! An Aadhaar counter was also set up. The BSF, on request, had pitched a tent where youngsters were taught how to get recruited. The Batala police too were present. Its job was to tell the youth what to do when they spot a peddler. The DC, himself a cricketer of some repute, asked the rural youth to take up sports. While still on cricket, it should not be forgotten that SSP Deepak Hilori, too, is also a former cricketer. Gurdaspur is indeed in for a good match (pun unintended). But that story is for some other day. Let us go back to Dera Baba Nanak. It is a place where people do not discuss the Internet, computers, TV or things like bandwidth. They discuss link roads, because that is among their basic needs. So, officials of the Mandi Board, who oversee the construction of link roads, were asked to be present in strength. The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, too, was asked to set up stalls. Villagers, for whom change is anathema, were told that the changes they dread the most may have their salvation inherent in it. For the record, the Aadhaar counter saw a large number of women. Reason is that if women want to avail free travel facilities in government buses, they need an Aadhaar card. Towards the fag end of the camp, officials were telling the villagers: change the way you look at things and the things you look at will automatically change. That is some food for thought!

Note of caution on Covid, cold

With the fear of the dreaded Covid virus returning thick in the air and the biting cold getting a bit too much, the administration has asked residents to take both seriously. Gurdaspur Civil Surgeon Dr Kulwinder Kaur has issued a set of dos and don’ts to the public. The administration has also changed the school timings. Government officials also wanted their timings to be changed. Their logic was that during summers in the past, office timings have been changed. They were not lucky this time. Nevertheless, they do not need to be worried unduly. They better keep in mind PB Shelley’s well known lyric: If winter is here, can summer be far behind?

(Contributed by Ravi Dhaliwal)