Himachal for Himachalis?

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By: TENZIN

This is again one of those issues which ignites passions and lets reasons go awry. This is bound to happen. Looking at the arguments flying all around. I am putting in my 2 paisa.

Tell me if i am wrong. But from what i understood from the initial draft bill proposed by the govt of Himachal pradesh. The land titles for development were only supposed to be given to builders. And title of owner ship to individuals would be then given only to the tenets of those builders. Has this changed?

My understanding of this whole process has been that this was done by the govt initially to facilitate the land holding of the world class ski resort in Distt Kullu and Manali, being promoted by Mr. Ford. Since, amendment to the law had to be made so as to allow them to have title ship over the land. As , himachal does not allow people from outside to hold lands.

The law as they are today exists like this; correct me if i am wrong.

A) Rural himachalis with land title in their name can buy land in himachal pradesh anywhere.

B) Urban himachalis can not buy land in rural areas, if they dont hold agricultural land under their or their parents name.

C) Points A and B for Himachalis from (Rural and Urban) are subject to the clause that they can not buy land in the tribal district of Kinnaur and Lahul Spiti, except for residents of Kinnaur and Lahul Spiti who have land deeds in their name and who can buy land anywhere in himachal.

To someone these archaic laws would seem as mind boggling and surprising considering the immense development the other areas of india have been making. So why hold on to them?

I believe there are good reasons as to why they should stay for now. Here is why.

Certain pockets of India has seen massive growth comprising NCR (National capital regions), Punjab, Haryana, Southern India and Western India. But sadly economic growth in himachal is still with the old hindu growth rate. Traditional sources of income have remained more or less the same.

With certain exceptions to large hydel projects coming up and the now just started industrialization drive thanks to the tax-exempt status. HImachal has been lacking in overall economic development. People still hold on to primitive sources of income. Be it govt enterprises or small-scale entrepreneurial activities like local grocery shops etc, and largely farming. We have seen horticulture making substantial economic difference to peoples live.

But the ground reality is. Himachal`s local populace is not ready to face up to the might of economic influence of the outsiders. There is not and cannot be fair and square play at this moment.

These laws have paid off. Himachal is today one of the most socially forward state with one of the leaders in primary education initiative, health initiative, laws protecting old age etc. Those living in tribal district have been shielded from loss of economic opportunity to slowly and steadily make progress and be ready to face up to the outside world. People there have shown up to the challenge by making education a priority and with flair of entrepreneurial activities by getting involved in tourism activities, horticulture etc. That wouldn’t have been possible by leaving them cold to so-called competition. I believe all these policies are people friendly and socially more engaging rather than divisive or protective,

On the contrary, come to think of this. People who are living in non-urgency and are happy with the old ways of life are suddenly thrown to competition. All land titles are opened to all. What would happen?

I can show you a doomsday scenario. Land prices would shoot up.

Since people with fat pockets would and I am definite would come up and buy existing pockets of available land from the poor populace.

Buoyed by the sudden cash in hand with people. What do you think would it do? It would kick up consumption of white goods like TV, refrigerators, washing machines and swanky automobiles. So what is wrong in all that? People have the right to own all these things? Right.

While there is nothing wrong in that, but with the only source of tangible income, which is land, now gone. And income disposed of in white goods instead of investment options like various financial products etc. There would be plenty who would be in a fix in a while with income gone. I am not underestimating the himachalis that they wouldn’t know of all the money saving/generating options. But we have to be cautious. With the influx of new affluent population there would be a lot of social anarchy setting in time. I could be wrong but just see Uttranchal under the erstwhile UP administration. The living conditions of the local populace are much worse than himachal. And that is thanks to no special laws to protect the local population from hilly regions. They have emulated himachal. Uttranchal has put a blanket ban on outsiders buying land in there. So much so for himcahal`s laws being put to question!

The point is. Yes, in a long term that is how an ideal competitive society should work. But, for those who have been shielded till now. Why suddenly throw them to the gallows of competition? It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Gradually, maybe yes, it can be done, but suddenly? That would be a big and a definite no.

See the point here is not of how not allowing other is unpatriotic and stuff. Lets not mix reasons with patriotism. Himachal is known to provide legions of soldiers to the indian army. There are whole districts are ex-servicemen and martyrs like Shaheed Vikram batra.

Point is, give people more time. Economically, it makes much more sense to let private builder slowly seep in. That would infuse more capital into the local economy and generate sources of income and employment. It would also kickstart local people to try emulate the success story by looking firsthand what are more possibilities.

Though undisputedly, the ultimate destiny of himachal and himachalis is in tourism (which includes health-tourism, religious tourism, eco-tourism), horticulture, fisheries, and small-scale enterprises, education.

Opening up land and the masses to sudden influx of hot money is not the answer.

All healthy criticism invited.

Regards,

Tenzin