Abhiyans, caps and t-shirts

Monday Musing

[ Tongam Rina ]

I am a bit weary of any government campaign, especially if caps and t-shirts are thrown in. No matter how ugly those caps and t-shirts are, they still come at a cost as the state exchequer pays for it.

Remember ‘Arunachal Rising’? I still don’t know what it was about, but the state government used the ‘Arunachal Rising’ campaign aggressively just prior to the 2019 state legislative election. Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his cabinet used the opportunity in the name of ‘Team Arunachal’ to campaign for the BJP. Citizens were left with caps and t-shirts and district administrations had huge bills to clear. It was managed in such a way that the district administrations ended up footing the bills as the campaign was passed off as a state event and not the BJP’s campaigning tool.

Smart move.

‘Hamara Arunachal abhiyan’ followed, and it is still around.

I am yet to find out what it is about. Going by its activities, I gather that it’s something between selling jingoism and vegetables at a fixed price. I have read about politicians preaching about the need to be united and the administration selling vegetables under the abhiyan.

Remember the lockdown around this time last year? The administration could not control the sky-high vegetable prices, so the administration sold vegetables under the abhiyan.

For the capital administration, the abhiyan may come handy again, given the alarming number of Covid-19 cases.

Now the latest is the ‘airgun surrender abhiyan’ launched by the forest department. The total number of airguns surrendered so far is reported to be 900, including two rifles. Though the number may not be as impressive in a state where there are too many airguns, it’s a positive start.

I am sure many people have surrendered their guns, inspired by Forest Minister Mama Natung’s passionate call to preserve the biodiversity, but if one looks closely at the pictures, the surrendered airguns are old models.

An airgun enthusiast told me that he surrendered his old airgun because he has a more sophisticated, new airgun. When I asked the person why he did not donate it to a relative instead, he responded that the department’s appreciation certificate was important to him!

The market is now flooded with sophisticated guns, including the ones known as pre-charged pneumatics, capable of killing even big games, as opposed to the old airguns, which were mostly used to kill birds.

One doesn’t need a licence from the government to purchase these sophisticated airguns. It’s available online and can be easily ordered online. There are safety issues too, as gun violence is not new in the state. Therefore, the state government should make it mandatory for all to obtain licences for sophisticated airguns or at least declare ownership.

The airgun surrender campaign is ongoing, and it seems to be a popular fad to surrender airguns, and rightly so. But it’s not for free as there are t-shirts, caps and certificates involved. The department is working out whether it can be funded under the CAMPA, said a department official. The surrendered airguns? Perhaps, there will be a museum.