Saturday 25 May 2024

An Open Letter to the LG, A&N Islands debunking the ponzi claims of development and ecological preservation


To Admiral (retd.) Lieutenant Governor (current, sadly) Devendra Kumar Joshi

PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VSM, NM (and whatnot!)

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Dear sir

I am writing to you on behalf of the interests of the general public that has been overlooked in the most gruesome act of gross negligence, and borders on a criminal embezzlement of the taxes the citizens pay, so that the government of the country provides them with the resources necessary for a sustainable right to life. Rather than treating the islanders as citizens, you seem to be treating them as prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp, which the islanders only tolerate in fear of your genocidal brute force.

Let us refer to the issues of development that you claim the Andaman and Nicobar administration have undertaken. Most of these developments have come literally at the cost of the islanders, and their hard-earned money. For example, the public transport fare for the government buses is much steeper than the private buses, simply because the former, i.e., the government buses are air-conditioned. However, if you compare the charges of the air-conditioned buses in Delhi and the air-conditioned buses, available only in the capital city of Port Blair, you will find that prices in Port Blair are much steeper than in Delhi. Another example is the airfare of incoming and outgoing flights to and from Port Blair, whether it be to Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, or other places. Airfare is so expensive that common people refrain from traveling, even during times of urgency unless they can gather enough money to afford traveling on a flight. As this is the only source of expedient travel. No attempt has been made thus far by either you or the Andaman and Nicobar administration, to ameliorate or even address the crisis of travel in and out of the islands. Just to profit from the income pocketed by the tourism industry, you are hanging the public of the islands on the gallows of financial despondency just like the British hung the forefathers and ancestors of those freedom fighters and those who belong to indigenous Andamanese communities, who laid the actual foundation of the settlement in the islands that you currently draw your totalitarian authority from.

It is clear that you, or your band of so-called civil servants handpicked by the government and sent to deliver good governance to these islands, have only delivered the hailstorm of Armageddon. The public of Andaman and Nicobar spend more money on food items, electricity, buying land building houses, and other daily activities, than any other state population in this country just because you fail to provide any form of subsidies, but to perceive your persona with such hopeful eyes is surely a futile exercise and a complete wastage of emotions.

As these words are communicated to you, the islands are facing a man-made energy crisis, where the common public is suffering from power outages that last for more than eight hours a day. That is, according to the labor laws, equivalent to an entire working day, sometimes more, so in essence you are putting people out of work, while there is already a burning issue of massive unemployment in the union territory which falls under your misgovernance. Moreover, in the peak of your ignorance and apathy, rather than boosting the technical prowess and skills needed to get the population out of the energy crisis and to minimize fuel usage, with what gall do you expect the problem to be resolved by the mere waving of the wand and by making a wish in the form of demand-side management of electric supply. It is this mismanagement in supply that likens your tenure to the Nazi internment camps where the interns were forced to live under diminishing fuel and ration supply until they all initially became docile workforce and subservient to the Nazi authority, and gradually perished. As you lavish in your king's estate, or Raj Niwas like a despotic monarch with the concentration of the complete resources of the islands under the firm grip of your clenched fists, people are losing jobs, money hope, thus increasing the rates of suicide in the islands over time.

The public wants to know what you intend to do under the auspices of the Island Development Authority, under the aegis of NITI Ayog, and the Prime Minister's Office regarding the aforementioned issues faced by the administration. The answer to this is already known, and you will be obliged with it now. The real motive behind the conception of the IDA is to ensure a large-scale and state-wide implementation of the model of controlled terror regime enforced under your unfortunate command. There is no denying the fact that regard Andaman and Nicobar Islands not as your command territory, but as your property, and its people as your serfs. Like a benevolent landlord, you have let the humble serfs live upon your land provided they keep their heads down, mouths shut, and pay their tithe in allegiance to your ignoble authority. Thus far, the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands have received nothing for their subservience, and on the contrary, they have been and are being duped and oppressed in more ways than one.

The colleges have lost their affiliation to the universities under your tenure, and so you must be proud to be the first lieutenant governor in the history of the islands who had stolen the aspirations and ambitions of thousands of islander youth to hold prestigious degrees in engineering, sciences, and humanities. Giving the false slogan of development, you have not even installed I single underground transmission cable for electric power supply, so that the public can avail uninterrupted power supply despite the frequent disturbances from the heavy winds and rainfall caused by cyclones. In your tenure, the people have only experienced maldevelopment wherein only a few rich outsiders, and not the bulk of native islanders and indigenous communities, are reaping the benefits if they are ready to pay the price and join in the bandwagon of apathetic and contemptuous disregard for the natural resources of the islands and its people, and the only link interest that you have with the culture of the islands is driven by your lust and greed for profit and power. You have constantly dismissed those individuals who represented the interests of the public and only sided with those individuals who had strictly private interests that aligned with yours. Your inability to enter into a proper dialogue on equal terms with the public is telling of your lack of intelligence and capability to handle a public office. Your manner of governance is highly anti-social, and that is also a telling symptom of your psychotic personality, completely devoid of conscience and compassion for the society that you falsely promise to serve.

It would be more proper to evaluate your term as a period of fomenting genocide, which is corroborated by international concern over your recent commitment to make the Great Nicobar Islands into a Las Vegas, a Hong Kong, a Singapore. Forget Singapore, under your authority, the vast stretch of islands cannot even hold its own to Rampur, a city in Uttar Pradesh known for preserving its rich heritage, unlike Andaman and Nicobar Islands which has become a subject of lost histories and vanishing communities. A more appropriate comparison would be Ramgarh from the film Sholay because you have already assumed the role of Gabbar Singh wreaking fear and terror upon the dwellers through the pomp of your defense forces and stature in the government as well as the military. However, the truth is, you have misused stature and position to sign off deals, in the ambit of both defense as well as civilian aspects, that threaten the very existence of the islands, and you are not concerned even one bit about the survival of the people, let alone their living standards, because you enjoy diplomatic immunity and the favor of industrial magnates like Adani to whom you have sold the development project t be set up in the Great Nicobar Islands. What do the displacement and probable extinction of the Shompen community matter, of which there are less than three hundred in number to you if the parading around of naked Jarawa men and women in front of tourists as a part of human safari did not affect any broad changes in the extent to which tourists can penetrate areas under reservation inhabited by tribal communities with precariously low populations? Simply instituting laws with no real implementation or significance is as futile as publishing columns in the mouthpiece of the administration celebrating Forest Conservation Day, or celebrating Biodiversity Day while you put the natural ecosystem and social habitus in jeopardy by repeatedly turning your face away from addressing the dire needs of the public the interests of whom you are bound by oath and office to serve.

Dear LG sir, rather than serving the interests of the public or even addressing their pressing concerns, such as frequent and long-drawn power cuts, stellar expenses of inter-state travel, gross negligence in the preservation and protection of local and indigenous forms of knowledge and existence, you have only served your own personal interests, and in the name of strategy and defense, you have misused the indices and parameters of development to funnel public funds in the form of taxes and other exponential expenses that the islanders have to put up with, to the effect of deriving profit, power and influence through your involvement with and affiliation in the nefarious intentions of the military-industrial complex. The current as well as the coming generation will not spare your reputation and remember you as a despot, conniving, undemocratic bad apple of a public servant as well as a horrible role model for a fit administrator, quite unbecoming of the position of a lieutenant governor. Even in your extended tenure, you have not provided the islanders with a single viable resource, moreover, you have played the role of a violator and plunderer of resources, which ought to be subject to further investigation. I appeal to that little part of you that is still human, if at all, to look back at your past, at remember the events that transpired when you took charge and later resigned from your dignified designation as the CNS or Navy Chief after a series of mishaps, one which caused casualty of sailors and loss of lives of Naval officers. Just as you took moral responsibility back then, the people of Andaman and Nicobar ask you to do the same now, and step down or take immediate measures to address the urgent and demanding plight of the islanders.