Phantom Limb Syndrome
How is PLS linked to the role of Civil Society in Kashmir
CONCERN BY DR ABDUL MAJID SIRAJ
Let me first of all explain in simple words what Phantom Limb Syndrome (PLS) means and then correlate the narrative with the commitments and constraints of civil society of Kashmir. PLS is a well know medical condition that afflicts a person who has an arm or leg amputated for medical reasons. The patient complains excruciating pain in the arm or leg that does not exist in his body anymore. He feels movement of fingers in the arm that is long buried. This phantasm is a result of mind playing tricks with the non-existent part of the body. It is a difficult condition to cure and takes a long time to retrain the mechanisms involved with neurophysiology and efficient artificial replacement prosthesis to overcome the affliction.
I have drawn a parallel between PLS and Kashmiri Civil Societies having begged indulgence from the respected members of these non-governmental organisations and the erudite cream of the crop of our society and with due dereference to the excellent work they are doing to campaign for betterment of living conditions and environment. There are also thematic pressure groups that take one cause at a time and try to persist vehemently until their goal is achieved. The question arises to what extents are these efforts recognized or as a remote chance an action taken. In Kashmir this amphitheatre presents a different appearance. For example views are expressed that in rebuilding Kashmir, Civil Society can play a role (GK May 2 p7) while politicians are engaged in national higher problems and cloistered behind security cordons. There are those who claim that plagued by apathy people must take a stock of their lives (GK May 3 p9) again the whole emphasis is on the society that is at the receiving end of physical and mental atrocities and submerged in a high grade repressive rule. I thought it would be simple enough to recognize this phenomenon by just living a day in normal circumstances anywhere in the State but especially in the valley. Let us exemplify this thesis by taking stock of a few problems menacing the lives of people. A million tons of waste can be expected to be shifted from kitchens to recycling plants or landfill sites. Some Civil Societies in Kashmir put dust bins at places and Print Media have been screaming about the consequences of rubbish on the roads. These operations are the basic tenets of governance and only possible at that level. Nowhere in the world is a Civil Society capable or involved in these functions. One other problem highlighted in GK columns is the worsening state of traffic and condition of roads. You need good quality life insurance and a fortified strong truck to be a part of the stream of traffic on the roads. You also need multiple eyes at the sides and back of your head to drive effectively. Civil Society can only save their own lives by keeping their distance from the chaos. All measures taken by the administration are peremptory and violence against the society. The punishments imposed include toeing away parked vehicles and shouting warning over loud speakers, extolling bribe from buses so that they can pick up passengers anywhere they wish to stop. What stands out in traffic management is total absence of lanes, lights, footpaths, crossings and signs displaying traffic codes. There are thousands of uniformed men blowing whistles with ineffectual control of traffic. All steps for apparent good will no doubt will end up with a lucrative handshake and reinstallation of the illegal activity.
It is a far-fetched idea that any Civil Society can even attempt to put remedial measures in place to correct these problems. There is a gulf of political tumult that separates the ranks of government and representative civil society. A civil society that has any credence with authority is appointed from civil servants in service and in dreaded fear of repercussions if they make statements challenging and provocative.
A non-governmental organization cannot cope with multitudes of punitive constraints in daily lives of people that sum up to make their living very onerous. Every individual who comes in contact with administration will tell you a story of arm twisting tactics and extraction of bribe. They also tell you if there is a property involved then the case will never get solved because each official will sell the client to his successor and money will flow for generations. How could a Civil Society cure the menace of corruption if the total infrastructure of administration was built on this raw material? Some say this evil matter stems from the ballot box and permeates through.
The hubris of this kind of administration over runs the ghost of all sections of citizenry and the Phantom Limb Syndrome reflects the triumph of an authoritarian state. They punish as a rule to demonstrate that if you are not a part of the solution then you are a part of the problem. There are some semi-government corporations working with a degree of autonomy. They will only survive if the lean on their sponsors to function effectively. I will therefore absolve all Civil Society organisations the responsibility of not being able to exercise a concerted action against the evils of the society because their mandate is limited and their voice constrained. I will venture to conclude that a ray of hope may shine if the legislative political parties make common cause with the Civil Societies and bring life to the severed limbs of the abandoned population and take their pain away by making drastic changes that will reform the total environment in which people have to live.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 10 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 10 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 11 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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