We the people
Let’s be part of the solution
CHANGE BY VISHAL SHARMA
When I look around, I find that that we are extremely corrupt people. This moral depravity pervades every sphere of our lives. When I talk to my friends from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh about our inglorious journey from the days of god fearing simpletons to the money gorging zombies today, they very conveniently, almost nonchalantly, put it down to the political leadership of the day. Like leaders, like followers is their refrain. Is it that simplistic, I have often wondered? Can a select few in the position of power influence the wider milieu in such a significant way? Is there a way, we, as people, could hold our own and fend off the veniality, if indeed it sprouted there from, and reduce it to an oasis on the fringes of the mainstream?
I have grappled with these questions and discovered that the problem is not so much with the top as it is with the bottom. There is corruption all around, because almost each one of us is corrupt and incorrigibly at that. Worse still, we have increasingly come to relish and accept it as the new social order. Just look around, who amongst us does not want his inept student to be admitted in a good school on the recommendations of the people of consequence? How many of us have showed up for an exam at the RTO office for getting the driving license? How many of us do not opt for illegal gratification of the officials to get our revenue papers, ration card, state subject certificate etc, expeditiously, and perhaps without having to go through the whole gamut of laid down procedures? And lastly, how many us don’t sidle up to the Ministers for seeking favourable transfers? I guess the number may not be flatteringly high.
Come to think of it, this monster has been fed and nourished by us without any qualm. Just imagine, if we were not impatient with procedures and had concern for merit, how much we would have contributed to the overall integrity in exchanges in the public domain. Yes, there is no gainsaying that the menace would not have completely vanished, but righteousness in the collective consciousness of the people at large would have acted as a bulwark against the runaway corruption. Presently, this menace is feeding off us, and menacingly growing to gobble us all. What’s worse, the narrative surrounding corruption in our state is also heavily coloured with hypocrisy. While we all partake in the fruits of corruption, we conveniently lay all the blame at the door of the political leadership. Do we know that this hypocrisy compounds our sin for we desist from owning up the unholy act?
Part of the problem is ascribable to more money in our pockets today than ever before. Money means power and more money means more power. This has caused us to believe that anything or everything can be bought (over) and that we can have our way any or all the time. With unfathomable amount of money all around, the morality is at a premium in our society. On the other end of the spectrum are the people, who are worse off and, have gladly offered themselves to be bought. This commodification has led us to bribe our way through the institutionalized processes to achieve our objectives in utter disregard to the values these institutions espouse. Given the way the circumstantial dice is loaded, the race to acquire more and more money is not going to be slackened. And, quite expectedly, each one of us wants to be part of this rat race forgetting that this madness for material riches will inevitably drag us down to the morass of immorality.
Also, the menace, interestingly, has its origin in the unnatural union of the three regions of the state-Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, and the resultant cultural, ethnic and socio-political differences of their people. The cultural and social affinities, as ordinarily seen in a homogenous population inhabiting a unified landmass, amongst the people of these regions are amiss for obvious reasons. The fundamentally natural, fraternal bonding is, therefore, absent. Further, the political discord, underpinned on mutual suspicion, within these regions runs deep, going back more than half a century in history. Consequently, there is a thought process in Jammu that a certain minority is being outnumbered and shall have to eventually seek an alternate abode outside the state. The narrative of Ladakh has always revolved around having tryst with destiny in a centrally run territory, for which they have also waged battles in the past. As for Kashmiris, a vast majority has always held the place as disputed awaiting resolution, which, it believes, will happen sometime in future. These undercover political uncertainties in the sub-regions have meant that there has been generally a little or no sense of commitment or ownership of the developmental/welfare initiatives in the state. This explains why we are unconcerned with the litter on the roads, defilement, degradation of natural resources, corruption in the local bodies and State Government etc. This explains why we have been only mindful of our own personal gains and not collective good. These tendencies unfortunately continue and show no signs of abatement.
While there may be strong structural reasons for corruption to thrive in our state, it is imperative that we, the people of the state, collectively come in its way and stall its march. For this, we would need to sink our differences and think and act as one entity. We would need to return to the core of morality, as epitomized in our respective scriptures, and teach ourselves before we teach our kids that patience is a virtue and honesty pays in the long run. The concept of the neighbourhood sanction, which in the past acted as a deterrent against people going astray, would have to be extracted from the long forgotten labyrinths of our minds and brought in force. Community vigil and ostracism as the tools of enforcing moral rectitude would need to be revived. In other words, we would need to unlearn the present and embrace the past.
Finally, there is a need to enjoy the vast array of differences that define we, the people, who co-inhabit this uniquely gifted landmass. Our differences should not become an alibi to do what we are doing. Our destinies are intertwined with this place for we have been born and bred here. This is a reason enough for us to develop stakeholdership in its development. This stakeholdership could easily be given effect sub-region wise. If sub-regions could be nurtured and developed by us with a sense of ownership, the region, as a whole, will take care of itself. This is doable, but we would have to first accept that we are a part of the problem and not use the political masters as a punching bag. Once we do that, we will soon discover that we have transformed into a part of solution. Thereafter, the part of the problem associated with the leadership will take care of itself.
(The author has formerly worked as journalist with the Asian Age. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 20 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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