Kashmir’s Paper Tigers!
Kashmir is home to leopards and panthers and there are no lions or tigers. However, in the recent times we have a new breed of Tigers, the “Paper Tigers”!
Most Kashmiris are familiar with the single lion which is supposed to have existed here. That was the lion of Kashmir. However, Kashmir’s wildlife includes neither the lions nor the tigers. We have leopards, panthers, and probably cheetahs. The rarest of all is the snow leopard mostly found in the heights of Ladakh. However, we have now a new breed of tigers. These are the paper tigers! One can put leaders of all hues and shades into this category. Each one of them wants his name or a photograph in a newspaper. They roar now through the newspapers and the other written media. This makes them the paper tigers!
On the mainstream side, each minister has an information officer on duty whose job is to see that the name of his boss appears in written word and also if possible, through the electronic media. No state function, official meeting, or gathering is complete unless it is covered by the media. Quite often meetings or gatherings are arranged just for media exposure. Just to tell people that something is “happening”! It is beside the point whether any tangible result comes out of these gatherings or meetings. There was once a minister who had a photographer attached to him virtually for 24 hours! He had told him to remain within his sight all the time. He had kept a signal by waving of his finger to tell him to click a photograph when talking to important personalities etc.
Similar situation prevails with the umpteen numbers of social and other ngos. Civil Society too is enamoured of media coverage. They quite often address press conferences and ensure that most of their meetings and seminars are widely covered in the local media. Exposure in the media is more important than the actual work done on the ground. Incidentally, Kashmir has over 800 daily and weekly newspapers as also magazines. Some do not have circulation of more than a hundred copies. Starting a newspaper these days is more or less a commercial enterprise. It is also a tool to blackmail people.
The most interesting is the thirst for news coverage among the leaders and workers leading Kashmir’s popular movement for total emancipation which they call “Azadi”. In the start of the new phase of the movement, people were keen to get their activities widely publicised. Newspaper offices would receive dozens of calls regarding actions taken all over the valley. They would urge editors to give good coverage to these violent acts. The news coverage was probably meant to be a morale booster to common people feeling the heat of the brutal and oppressive measures of the security forces. However, then the violence slowly subsided and the coverage of “actions” also slowly disappeared. It was taken over by press statements for which the editors were asked to give prominent space. Now there is absolute competition between various parties and the players to be projected through newspaper statements on almost every topic under the sun! People are keen to be seen attending any event under the sun. Be it about mourning some human loss or a festive occasion, people are keen to be seen there!
Sometimes one feels that instead of giving umpteen statements if all these people could come together to take some practical steps on the ground, it would be a great service to the society. For instance if people are motivated to clean up the polluted Dal Lake on their own by voluntary action, the Lake would definitely start breathing again. Why can’t they give the call “Dal Chalo” someday to save the Lake? One could initiate steps to clean the city of its rubbish and garbage. They could motivate the people to observe traffic rules to get the city rid of the worst traffic jams! They could safeguard our depleting forests. Somehow, people expect everything to be done by a government which they refuse to own! Unfortunately, in our part there is no dignity for manual labour. Normally, one should be proud of doing everything with one’s own hands. Probably, people feel elated by having their photographs and names in newspapers. It could also be in some cases for convincing their masters paying for doing certain jobs that these have been accomplished! In case of the mainstream politicians, it is to show to their masters that they are working on the ground regardless of how the crowds and their media coverage are managed. We have had enough of “Paper Tigers” now and need honest and dedicated workers who would work on the ground without having to bother about their statements and photographs being covered in the local newspapers! So far the new generation is not enamoured of the media coverage and are least interested in publicity. These days one finds many young entrepreneurs working in the field without any glamorous media coverage. They may be the only hope for our salvation!
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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