Herbal Park, a metaphor for today’s India

By Jaspal Singh,

During a recent journey down the Shivaliks along the Jamuna river, we soon crossed the ranges to be in the plains, on the main highway that connects Delhi to Badrinath. Sugarcane fields and newly-sown wheat dotted both sides of the road.

Support TwoCircles

We decided to make a stop at a park called ‘Herbal Park’. As the name suggests, it is a park with different medicinal and other herbs. Created by the Haryana government, it was well laid out, studded with beautiful log cabin cottages.

Caption: Photo used for illustration purpose only (Courtesy: AmbalaOnline).

But as we entered, it was clear that nobody is taking care of it. There is no maintenance. The grass was dry and brown, looked like it has not been watered for months. The flower pots were dry too. There was lot of water in general around and every few yards, there were sprinklers for water. A canal from nearby Jamuna also ran through it.

We took a round and saw a middle aged man, who I presumed was one of the gardeners. “Sir, how many gardeners work here?” I asked. “Around 40-50,” he replied.

“But looks like the grass and plants have not been watered for a long time,” I pointed out, to which he replied: “This is how it is, what to do sir?”

I realized most of these employees must only exist on paper and their salaries are being siphoned off by the officials. I pointed out at the green houses which were in shambles and said, “How long have they been like this?”

“Sir, for 8 to 10 years,” he replied. Now he got a little worried as to why I was asking these many questions. He was apprehensive that I may be one of the officials on inspection. He directed us towards another man, who, he said, ran the office there. That man also gave readymade excuses for not maintaining the park.

As we walked out, I saw a huge statue of Devi Lal, the former Deputy Prime Minister. The park is dedicated to his memory and he is fondly called Tau – an uncle. The statue was fully covered with dust. I turned to the gardener: “Does anyone clean this statue?”

“Sir, Tauji gets a bath only when it rains,” he answered prompting us all to crack up.

But seriously, the incident made me look at the sad state of this beautiful Herbal Park. It has been well made and laid out but no care and maintenance had spoilt it.

The herbal park seems to symbolize India, full of great human and natural resources, but at the same time, full of misery, poverty, disease and devastation at the hands of the ruling elite.

In spite of all the promises of socialism, liberalization and now ‘Acchey Din’ – promise of Good Times.

Just read in the news that a battalion of police was to give gun salute to a soldier, who was killed in Kashmir couple of days ago. The guns did not fire.