Harsh posting but rewarding

Harsh posting but rewarding

Photo for representation only. File photo

KK Paul

In 1997, when I was posted to Arunachal Pradesh, the state was comparatively less developed and considered to be a tough posting. As I arrived at Itanagar late in the evening and just a day before the next morning’s ceremonial parade, for the statehood day, the formal assumption of charge and other formalities had to be rushed.

Later, when I reached the designated residence of the chief of police, I was in for a surprise, and had the first experience of the harshness of the area, but this was in respect of only water. Normal tap water, instead of washing, was making my hands stickier and giving a soapy feeling till I found some bottled water in the bathroom, which redeemed the situation.

I was informed that water had to be made potable with alum treatment followed by boiling, which was the norm. While in Delhi, one takes certain basic necessities for granted; in remote areas of Arunachal, they appear to be a luxury, but one managed.

Arunachal has a large number of tribal communities, of which 25 are the major ones. Ever-smiling and the friendly nature of the tribals helped develop community relations quickly, particularly during tours. They are generally self-sufficient and a happy community. They have cultural festivals where a lot of singing, dancing and feasting goes on for days. It came as a surprise to see that most of the tribals, especially youngsters, were good at singing popular Hindi film songs.

At Itanagar, harvest festivals Mopin and Solung were celebrated with gusto and fanfare. Mopin in April, usually coincided with Baisakhi, and Solung was celebrated in October for the harvest of kharif and before the sowing of the next crop.

For one Mopin function, there was considerable excitement as famous singer Usha Uthup had been invited. To the surprise of all, she sang in the local dialect. As the evening progressed, there was a lot of dancing, with the chief minister in a ceremonial headgear taking the lead, both in singing as well as dancing on stage.

At another function hosted at my official residence, the home minister was the chief guest, other invitees being senior bureaucrats and police officers. After dinner, as we were enjoying the police band, there was a general talk of someone volunteering to chip in with a song. I had become aware that the home minister was a hugely talented person and hesitatingly I requested him. To our surprise, his response was instantaneous. Taking out a small diary from his pocket, he mentioned that he was expecting such a request, and sang to his heart’s content.

He went on to become the chief minister of Arunachal, an MP and LG of a union territory.

Tribune Shorts


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