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Through artistic creativity, rain-battered Himachal sets for resilience

IANS | August 29, 2023 12:47 PM

SHIMLA: Torrential rains that left Himachal Pradesh devastated have failed to wash away the spirits of its innocent and hardworking people also dedicated to serving the nation. Left to fend for themselves against nature’s fury, which as per Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu first in 50 years, the Himachalis are now trying to build up courage from the debris by singing songs and making videos, coaxing people not to feel discouraged.

Songs such as these are heard in war times to keep the morale high, remarked an octogenarian former serviceman Rajesh Thakur, a resident of Shimla, the state capital.

He was remarking to a harmony chorus titled “I am Himachal, I will win again” based on couplets penned by former state Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Himanshu Misra, who is settled in Shimla after retirement.

The song was sung by UVEE Music Group of Solan comprising singers Pankaj Jeena, Akanksha Dhyani, Swaroop Pandey, Manjeet Raghuwanshi, Aranavv and others with Himachal will rise again appears to be the central theme of the creative initiative with horrifying visuals showing buildings and houses collapsing like pack of cards in the blink of an eye.

The song on Instagram got 13, 379 likes on Sunday.

It is reposted by Himachal Pradesh Police on its ‘X’ handle.

Misra, who worked with the UN in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Liberia and Afghanistan, has expressed his emotions through a heartfelt poem amidst the natural disaster that claimed 381 lives in the state from two months.

Through his poetry, he tries to build the resilience by reviving the enduring spirit of people of a small state ensconced in the Himalayas where 90 pe rcent of its residents live in villages.

In his tweet, Misra wrote: “Extending one hand to help someone has more value than joining two hands for prayer. The cycle of the winds remains, the storms don’t last long."

Joining her former colleague, Satwant Atwal Trivedi, Additional Director General of Police, tweeted by tagging photos of men in khakhi involved in relief and rescue operations.

“They might not have high end equipment; might not get breaks, might be traumatised by the bodies they pull out, but they never give up most deserving of respect and accolades.”

Satwant Atwal, the voice on issues related to women in uniform, was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service.

Firmly believing there is always a silver lining, she wrote on Sunday: “Keep your face always to the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you. Waking up to see another day is a blessing. Don’t take it for granted. Make it count and be happy that you’re alive. Grateful for sunshine!!”

Her husband Abhishek Trivedi, who is ADGP (Law and Order), tweeted by posting a picture of crystal clear blue skyline with scattered white clouds.

“Presently, I want my clouds only like this…”

Avay Shukla, who retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in December 2010 and settled on the suburbs of Shimla, in an article on online news portal Hill Post said: “I have been in Himachal since 1976 and have never witnessed the kind of devastation that has occurred over the last one month.

"A few landslides, road collapses and some flooding has always been par for the course in this mountainous state, but the extent, intensity and ferocity of nature’s backlash this year is unprecedented and should be an eye-opener for not only the officials and politicians, but also the citizens of the state, who are just as culpable for the disaster.”

Asking the Chief Minister to announce, and implement, measures immediately to show that he means business. They include making a public declaration that there shall never be any regularisation of illegal buildings in the state (of which there are reported to be about 17, 000).

“It has been frequent regularisation policies in the past (six at last count) by all governments which have allowed this monster to grow in the womb of expectation, and led to the explosion of the type of buildings which have been collapsing in the recent rains, taking a toll of human lives. This includes many government constructions too, which have been at the forefront of these violations, confident in their sovereign immunity. This must stop, and this dangling electoral carrot must be banished for all times, ” he wrote.

Building resilience and to dispel the gloom, Shimla-born software engineer Tejaswi Lohumi played guitar at Komic, the world’s highest village in the state's Spiti Valley, with soothing notes.

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