Of Mountains and Molehills
A molehill refers to a small mound of earth thrown up by a mole while burrowing near the surface. Metaphorically, it implies something that is of lesser significance or import in any given context. On the other hand, a mountain is, well…a mountain. In any context, it assumes prominence and stature. Prominence and stature, for example, like the office of the chief minister of a state. Any chief minister of any state. Nothing really says prominence and stature like the highest office of the state. Or to be more accurate, the highest elected office of the state. And also, it is for certain that the occupant of the highest office of any state simply cannot be a mole. Because the chief minister’s office, without any doubt, is no molehill.
This context is important because of an incident that took place recently. Five days ago, on January 14 last, the “media cell” of our chief minister’s office was the source of an emailed press statement from the Joint Action Committee on Women Reservation (JACWR), which is currently spearheading a movement that seeks reservation of seats for women in urban local bodies. The movement is being played out in the political arena as well as inside the hallowed walls of the country’s apex court. And as such, the Supreme Court is yet to give its judgement – and that, really, should be that. At least for now.
However, the chief minister’s office functioning as the publicity faculty – even if for this instance only – of the JACWR was, and is, very interesting, to say the least. Especially in the current political climate that has surrounded Nagaland, this incident has all the ingredients to suggest that there could be more to it than meets the eye. We do not have to be experts in rocket science to know one plus one equals two.
In some circles, the issue raised by this newspaper – about the chief minister’s media cell functioning as the publicity faculty of the JACWR – has been dismissed as making a mountain out of a molehill. A member of the chief minister’s publicity cell has gone up to the extent of saying that simply because the CM’s office serve tea to visitors does not make it a restaurant. This was to justify their argument that the CM’s office had offered its internet facility to JACWR members.
Aside from the glaring pointer that using the CM’s office internet facility is completely different to allowing the JACWR access to the official email of the highest office of the state, the CM’s office has also ended up comparing the value and the security of its official email to that of a cup of tea! As the office of the highest elected representative of the state, it is expected of the staff of the chief minister’s office to put premium on its prestige, and even more so on its security.
Even leaving aside the conspiracy theories and political intricacies this incident has thrown wide open, what this incident and its aftermath has made clear is that access to mails of the highest office of the state cannot simply be served to all and sundry like cups of tea to visitors. While conventional wisdom quite rightly dictates that mountains should not be made out of molehills, it is equally advisable to be able to differentiate between mountains and molehills. Or in this instance, between the security of the highest office of the state and a cup of tea.