Political stunts for ‘public cause’ more often than not fail to benefit the society at large. Success ratio of welfare programmes is very poor, especially in India. They get extension after extension. Not meeting deadlines has been the norm. Political considerations play bigger part in deciding components of welfare schemes. Biggest example is the UPA-II’s Food Security Act, which, however, could not rescue the Congress from meeting its doomsday. In fact, the Act boomeranged as the now-smarter Indian voters questioned the haste. Why was the UPA-II govt hell bent on getting the Bill through with national elections round the corner? The Bill became a law on September 12 last year, but electorates understood the motive behind, much to the benefit of the Narendra Modi-led BJP.

Pro-environment schemes, which don’t come into conflict with the interest of who’s who, are nowadays a big tool for politicians to win public hearts. East Khasi Hills district administration made a huge attempt of creating world record by planting over seven lakh saplings on a single day. They did it accordingly, but the Guinness Book authorities refused to consider it ‘due to short notice’. Nearly half a dozen elected political leaders including chief minister Mukul Sangma and home minister Roshan Warjri planted trees on the occasion. This is a good gesture by politicians towards an environmental cause. But skeptics would ask if there was any real need for all these MLAs and ministers to go there, had there been no political motive. The purpose is just to plant trees, a kid’s job. Forest personnel can do it and have been doing for years. Was there any need to burn hundreds of litres of petrol for carrying politicians and their very obedient bureaucrats to the over 50 locations besides spending thousands, if not lakhs, in buying food packets?

Notwithstanding the obvious interest of politicians to show their face on such occasions apart, such show-offs help make people aware of the so-called mission. They attract a lot of spectators and eyeballs. Public gets encouraged to be part of such mission. These programmes are worth if they are able to convert even a single mind, especially of the youth and children. Politicians, bureaucrats and contractors benefit their own way while the society benefits in terms of getting awareness. If today’s children understand value of environment, tree plantation programmes might be a redundant thing in future.

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