Fu rt her to '^Scand ina v ian Scandal" (Mar/Apr 1995), could it be that this RolwaJing episode heralds change for the 'management' of the: great peaks?
In the centre of Australia standsthe greatest ; monolith in the world and for years tourists went there for the sole purpose of'climbing the Rock', a sort of pilgrimage that changed orie from an ordinary citteeiv to'one who had done it*. The fact that some lost their lives in the process made it : seemingly more attractive,
Thel980s saw the area declared a national park and the monolith's name changed back from Ayer's Rock to Ks indigenous name Uluru. T.he traditional aboriginal owners took over its management, as it is one of their sacred places.; They never climb it. They hadlong disagreed with the climbing of the Rock and now they began to : hand put information, encouraging touriststo share the indigenous view of Uluru and to refrain from climbing it. They report that the number of climbers is gradually dropping, but not the nu mber of tourists,
I am not a climber myself, simply ahill dweller. But I have looked up at the great mountains and haveflowh over the Himalaya; I regard those events as the highlights of rny life, from which I continue to extract a deep, spiritual clarity. Even though aeroplanes are an intrusion, being enabled to look put over a landscape free of human habitation was an unforgettable experience. I would gladly pay for a permit to sit at the foot of a peak whose slopes are untrodden by human feet.
I'd even dare to predict that the time is not far off that the Government of Nepal and other Himalayan states can expect more foreign revenue from advertising and selling permits to view a sacred pristine peak> untrodden by mountaineers, than they make from climbing permits, But in order to be ready for that imminent change in the market, they cannot afford to lose a day and must start 'reserving' peaks now. If they could hear what tourists talk about, they'd understand that many object to wildcat commercial intrusions and spend less the more they encounter it.
Although many Sherpas make a precarious living with mountaineering, I have heard that their parents and grandparents were deeply puzzled by Western competition to get to the top of their mountains. It created an industry which
theSherpacertain benefits,, but it obscured the possibility that there might be other ways to share their environment and sell their services to travellers, ■
In'a: slow sort of way, mountaineering is hot a renewable activity. Few mountaineers climb the same peak over and over again, and those who reach high peaks are less interested in lower peaks, unless it has a notoriously difficult approach: Physical ability aside, mountaineering remains a very costly sport, far out of most people's reach-But sitting at the foot of an untrodden peak, viewing it from the beyul, would attract many . people—the ■typethat do not run tq prime ministers to get access^ : ■
: Rolwaling seems more suitable to become a: Buddhist pilgrimage destination. There are now more western Buddhists in the world than there are fleas on a dog. Mainy are professional people with short holidays arid not all can or want to go on pilgrimage to Tibet.:
Not that hordes of tourists are appropriate in these wonderful places. Mass tourism iri the long run brings less profit because of its costly infra structure and the fickleness of tourists, who turn away from a place as soon as it hecomes overrun With fellow tou n sts. But: ca reful ly licensed tourism needs very special places, whose uppermost attraction is that their mountains are unsuliiedby human traffic. This will ensure generations of Sherpa people a stable income and the government a revenue that does not need to be wholly ploughed back to repair the damage.
In other words, the government and the people of Nepal should not think only of the people who are now clamouring for access to Rblwaling and similar places, but also consider those who would stay away in droves from a place, however sacred or special its history, once it has been: overrun. A country can have any type of tourism it wants/but it seems that the loud variety is often the only type recognised. LotoHoubein Bridgewater, Australia
Thiscamefo my notice after I read theYeti's ^thoughts on "our Hillary" and "Bill'sHillary" Mar/Apr1995). Thetiew York Times of 3 April has
This is a
dalitdabao andolan, meant to keep the backwards in their place. No movement that is directed against the poor and the oppresed can be called revolutionary.
Hillary Rodham Clinton confessing that her mother, Dorothy Rodham, had read ah article' : :: about Edmund Hiliary-^a one-time beekeeper who had taken to mountain climbing—when she was: pregnant with her daughter inl947 and liked the name. "It had two l's, which is how she thoughtshe was supposed to spell Hillary,,. So when I was born, she called me Hillary, and she aiwaystbld me it's because of Sir Edmund Hillary/'quoth the First Lady. Edmund Hillary climbed Everest with: : Tenzing Nqrgay in May 1953, Isn't this alia -: little fanciful1?:
Delirium in Uttarakhand
Manisha Afyal's: controversial report on the Chipko movement (janflFeb 1994) had put the leaders who : preferred 'Chipko' to Chipko in a difficult position.. Her report Oft the Utfarakhand agitation CNov/Dec 1994) once again succeeds in addressing underlying issues: Aryal hastaken great pains in her reporting, and the article "An Uttarakharid State of Mind" is probably the only report that properly gauges the: depth of the people's anger; While one might not agree with all of her conclusions^ it has to be said that Aryal has tried to shed light-on ailaspecta of the Uttarakhand agitation. ■-.
The article's conclusion that in the absence of leadership:the movement would quickly die down has been proven by subsequent events, ft is also true that most of the so-called leaders of the agitation took refuge in misinformation: so that the public's anger would be kept at a high pitch aind there would be violence all round.
The people have now begun to understand that the leaders are out to fool them. The Mu2zafarnagar incident of 2 October 1994 served to open their eyes, and the people have now realised that the violence occurred because of the lack of foresight in the leadership. While the rallyists were stuck in Muzzafarnagar, the leaders were already in Delhi, because they had to make sure that they had access to the rally podium from which to lambast the Central Government. There was not a single responsible person present when the incident with the police occurred in Muzzafarnagar. The hill women who were headed to gherao Parliament were abandoned.
But when the Central Bureau of Intelligence conceded in its report that there had been rapes at Muzzafarnagar^ the reaction of the leadership left a lot to be desired. Some even asked how itwas
possible that women were raped and the activists came back without making a fuss. The women who returoedfrom Muzzafarnagar have now become : passive recipients of people's ridicule. They were garlanded: upon their return, yet when the CBI ■report was made public the local people started to call them ''Muzzafarnagarwali". Meanwhile, tneUttarakhandiwhoIivedirithe plainssaid that the report's being made public had shamed: them! \' '
: I have always maintained that this agitation is not to demand a state. The agitatipnists' activities have constantly proven this point. As has also been pointed out in Hirrial, this is a 'dalit dabao andolan', meant to keep the backwards in their place. At the beginning of the agitation, the folk poet Ghaitashyam Sailani had noted that the people of Uttarakhand seemed to be suffering from sahnipat (delirium). Nobody wants to listen to logic, however.
Some cali the movement a social revolution, but I term it reactionary. No movement that is directed against the poor and the oppressed can be called a:revolution> for do not the Dhunarj Tamota, Beda and Koiai figure among the dalit communities of Uttarakhand? Thescheduled castes and : backward classes in every district have been attacked in the course of the Uttarakhand agitation.
Meanwhile, the target of the hill people's ire continues to be Mulayam Singh Vadav's government in Lucknow. How ironic, that the very government which set up two committees for the creation of a Uttarakhand state and which had a resolution on the subject adopted by the State Assembly and forwarded to Parliament, should be the first target of the agitationists. Is there not a contradiction here? Meanwhile, the hill people support Congressman Narayan Dutt Tiwari knowing full well that he firmly opposes statehood for Uttarakhand. He receives support only because he is leading the charge to bring down Mulayam's government. This alone proves that the demand for statehood is hollow.
The Chipko leader Sunderlal Bahuguna was once a supporter of the statehood movement, but he too has how begun to worry that the natural resources of the region will come under greater threat after statehood is achieved. He is not wrong, for those who will rule over Uttarakhand state will be firmly in the grip of the forest and liquor mafias. Their first task will be to finish off what little forest tracts remain in Uttarakhand. The destruction ot forests after neighbouring Himachal Pradesh
achieved its statehood is still fresh in memory. Also, when the Supreme Court banned the limestone mining in Doon, the quarry people all moved their operations to Hirnachal. Perhaps this is all that statehood achieves. ./: