The Cart-Before-The-Horse syndrome

Monday, 30 March 2020



The Cart-Before-The-Horse syndrome

Subhasish Das | December 22, 2018 12:09 hrs

“PORIBORTON” or change was the buzzword that upended the State BJP’s fortunes in Assam in 2016. Levitating from being a sidelined and snubbed political party in the state for years to a major force with a landslide victory in the elections behind, it vowed to ameliorate many a thing that had gone askew during the three previous Congress regimes. Now as we appraise them on completion of half-term, their rule can be encapsulated as one interspersed with both achievements and gaffes that have brought delight and ire to the populace in equal measure.

Let’s accept without being overly critical about the government that a lot of good initiatives have been taken by it to usher in socio-economic and rural development, wildlife protection, uplifting of the education sector, trade and industries, law and order, digitization etc. But at the same time, their tenure is mired in some cart-before-the-horse actions and decisions, many of them Guwahati-specific that have developed into major irritants for the people over time.

•  India’s tallest national flag (from average elevation of city) that was inaugurated amidst a lot of hype and fanfare on 2nd October 2018 has been torn and impaired on three occasions within the first three months of its installation. While it’s a matter of immense national pride to have such a marvellous structure in the city that can direct both spotlight and tourism to Assam, the frequent sights of a damaged national flag have irked and hurt the sentiments of citizens. This leaves a lot of unanswered questions in terms of its planning and execution. Considering the sheer size, magnitude and weight of the giant flag, it may have been a hasty decision taken by the government where possible post-installation malfunctions and whether the flag could withstand the high wind velocity and pressure at that height, seem to have been overlooked. A whopping spend of Rs 2.92 crores certainly merits something better than this!

•  Customizing a 1.5 km stretch on the busy MG Road into a walking zone every Sunday for six hours brought a sense of excitement among many city residents. The same move however has drawn a lot of flak due to massive traffic snarls on several alternative routes due to diversion of vehicular traffic. What has never been highlighted and grossly neglected was the inconvenience it brought to those driving through Kamarpatty, AT Road and Fancy Bazar on a Sunday evening. Although the intent of the government was good, the execution looks faulty at best. Whether a proper assessment of the volume of vehicular traffic on Sunday evenings was done or not, remains a question. A corresponding study on whether the other roads are capable enough to take the additional load of traffic diversion from MG Road apparently was never done.

•  Priyanka Chopra, roped in as the brand ambassador of the state by Assam government, shot a breathtaking video for ATDC that received numerous positive reviews and excited all and sundry. However, on ground, the records do not show any improvement in the footfall of foreign visitors in 2018. The numbers stood below ten thousand till October’18 that sounds almost average. While the actor’s global outreach and the magnificent video definitely can provide a boost to state tourism, the government must also understand that unless the perennial impediments are removed, such extravagant ventures may not yield the desired results. Improvement in overall road infrastructure, availability of quality hotels, lodges, guest houses and homestays, robust transport and communication system to tourist destinations, improved air connectivity across the state, embargo on calling frequent strikes/bandhs, aggressive advertising etc are some of the more essential steps which, if taken, can provide a massive thrust to Assam’s tourism without breaking a sweat.

•  Let’s now talk about another major irritant that has amplified itself and plagued Guwahati residents like never before. Albeit it’s neither related to government actions nor associated with “poriborton” or an otiose attempt to bring about one. It’s more to do with the lack of it. The unabated rise in vehicular traffic, the near inexistent driving etiquette of the masses, the utter disregard for pedestrians and perpetual indiscriminate parking across the city make it one of the most unliveable cities in India from a resident’s perspective. The above problems are man-made and it would be unjust to blame the government that has little control. Nonetheless, implementing strict adherence to traffic rules, inculcating the practice of civilized driving including no or less honking, imposition of hefty fines on defaulters for noncompliance are certain initiatives that are very much within its control. 

A “poriborton” in this regard or an honest attempt by the present government to revamp things was most required and would have been truly appreciated by the people. However, no change whatsoever has been witnessed yet with the overall problem worsening each day and becoming more and more chronic.

Life’s all about hopes, aspirations and expectations. I hope the government, if it agrees to the points mentioned, makes a concerted effort to weed out the flaws and takes corrective measures to let people enjoy the fruits of change, it promised.

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