And Then There Were Two. . .
Mr. Brij Lal comments on the formation of the new state and the possible impact on Woodstock:
'We all await the new state with both joyful expectation and trepidation. Changes will certainly happen, and they could be positive or negative. As an optimist I focus on the positive. Schools are the main money generating industry in India. and Woodstock has always been one of the best. In the new, smaller state, we may find we receive more cooperation from both local and central governments as they support and promote the best school in the state. But, ultimately, we'll just have to wait and see!'
Daniel Russell, Grade 12, investigates locals' views of the changes and of the choice of Debra Dun as capital:
In September 1994, demands for a separate hill state of Uttrakhand led to a shoot-out by the police in which some activists were killed in Mussoorie. Six years on and the struggle seems to have paid off. In the monsoon session of the Indian Parliament, Bills creating three new states were passed. The date for the creation of the new states of Jharkhand, Chatisgarh and Uttaranchal has been set for 1 November 2000. Uttarakhand, re-christened Uttaranchal, will be made up of the Northern Uttar Pradesh hill regions of Kumaon and Garwhal. Controversially, two districts of the plains, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar, have also been included in the newstate.
The creation of the new state has several political implications. Rajat Agarwal, known by some as the 'younger' Ram Chander, feels that the creation of Uttaranchal will bring the government closer to the people: 'For those that need clearance, the government will be more understanding than the one in Lucknow.' Taxi operator and local politician, Manmohan Singh, however, is cynical: 'The creation of Uttaranchal will cause too many problems, it is only the politicians at the top who want to make more money who support its creation.'
The choice of Debra Dun as capital was another issue of discord. The 'battle' was primarily between the Kumaon and Garwhal regions, who wanted the capital in Nainital and Dehradun respectively. Mr. Singh says: 'A state capital should have good train, air and road access as well as adequate facilities. Dehradun is the only option.' Kumaonis believe the city is too distant from their region. For Dehra Dun the change in political status will reap economic rewards as the demand for housing and transport skyrockets.
With its own government, the hope is that the economy of the whole region will get a boost. Uttaranchal will rely primarily on its tourist trade for revenue. Mr. Agarwal hopes that business will improve: 'As a separate state, manufacturers will set up distribution centres closer to Mussoorie so we will be able to get more goods quicker.' There will also be the obvious increase in civil service jobs and better infrastructure, but Mr. Agarwal also sees a down side in 'the increase in taxes (and prices) since there will be three states for transporters to pass through to get here rather than only two.' However, he feels that with a responsible government, Uttaranchal should be able to survive on its own.
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