The Living Legendry
My list of the most important Kashmiris, its greatest unsung heroes in recent history, includes the name of Dr G N Wani
MUHAMMAD MAROOF SHAH
The more I have attempted to read history and understand social and political philosophies and saintly characters working for the liberation of people, the more I have understood why economic security is key to real advancement and prerequisite for cultural evolution. Livestock sector should be our top priority if we wish to achieve self reliance, the ideal of all independent people. Our thinking class and columnists who write scores of pieces on, say, what Obama would say on Kashmir issue, need to educate themselves better on the key issues connected with our food security. We need to have visionary planners and dedicated workers for livestock sector. On one such living visionary I wish to talk about today although people mostly write on dead personalities I think the living should be prioritized for this honour.
There are some luminaries around which legend grows in their lifetime. People talk about Saint Francis as the saint of birds and wild animals as they would throng him wherever he went and he would address them as his family members. Dr G N Wani, former director Sheep husbandry and the pioneer of cross breeding and propagation of Kashmir Merino programme is one such living saint, the patron saint of sheep husbandry. The golden footed director of golden footed animal didn’t know what his salary was or how to calculate his arrears – he had no time for it – and he didn’t bother to get himself confirmed as director.
People may have different opinions on the role of Jamaati Islami but grooming Dr Wani is an achievement of it for which Kashmiris should be grateful. Great devotion to one’s job needs perfection of superhuman virtues that ihsan or spiritual dimension of Islam connotes. In this sense I consider Dr Wani a Sufi. “It was machr that intoxicated me and motivated me for work” Dr Wani has remarked. If Ihsan or Sufism is fundamentally “attention without distraction” and doing your assigned job without attachment to self and finding joy in that work Dr Wani exemplifies Sufi vision? In fact the calm and composure of Mowlana Maududi in the face of death warrant and attempted murder attempt, his soft voice, his ethics of giving to whosoever approached are also all reflections of great Sufi ethics. We are all on the path and differ only in the distance we have travelled. Name Ahrar Sahib and tears flow from him. He had found life’s orientation in the vision of Islam committed to social justice that Jamaat-e-Islami upheld although it is another matter that the class question has been inadequately theorized by its leaders like the questions of spiritual and metaphysical dimensions of Islam.
None can dispute his unimpeachable credentials. He was called honest ‘shikaslad’ officer. He refused the offers to be Secretary or to head Waqf Board. Dr Farooq Abdullah had approached him for heading the Awaqaf and the Sufi in him refused. This is a tribute to his integrity that NC chairperson asked a Jamaat worker to correct the mess in Waqf management. Great men through their professionalism make ideological divisions irrelevant. He was the terror for those who didn’t work. He used to visit farms in the middle of the night during lambing period. Sick sheep strangely came out of the flock to greet him as if he were their Savior. Hazrat Umer’s concern for the broken leg of a horse or goat in his empire is his favorite story and sufficient motivation for his work.
The State may not have given him any lifetime achievement award for reasons I can’t fathom but all the people concerned with sheep husbandry from the farmers and bakarwaals to top ranking officers and bureaucrats who knew him have already awarded him with prayers, good wishes, and tears of gratitude. I don’t know why there is no Officer Emeritus post in development departments or in some other departments as is the case in universities. He should have been Officer Emeritus. But as he was a Sufi by constitution he had prayed for not being given extension. His day started from 4pm onwards. The current interest in sheep husbandry owes a lot to his efforts when we go deeper into the history of development of cross bred sheep.
He has some valuable suggestions for the State administration and the department. He advises that we should develop seed farms and export the germplasm and make this an industry and income from this will help to bear the import bill on mutton. Instead of going for quantitative increase and involving all and sundry including those entrepreneurs who want to run sheep farms as factories employing hired labour and not motivated to be involved with sheep he advises empowering the marginal farmer. One has to live with sheep to be the successful breeder, he emphasizes.
We owe to Dr Wani establishment of faculty of veterinary sciences Shuhama that has developed Noori, working on fecundity gene and vaccine production and that deserves to be upgraded to the Veterinary University status. He built scores of buildings and got allocated thousands of canals of land for sheep husbandry. His role in developing key farm in small ruminant sector in Ladakh has been pivotal. For him death of a lamb was an issue that raised his blood pressure and death of a stud ram not less than some family mourning. The best training to new KAS officers would be not just teaching but illustrating the theory of good effective governance and all the great values that an administrator should have through documentaries on his life and work. Merely seeing him and watching his tearful years, nostalgically recalling those days, when the writ of the officer was almost the writ of a Murshid is an invaluable lesson for life to an administrator.
He can’t see his work being undone when Sheep farm Dachigam for which he has spent his most productive years is getting relocated on ridiculous grounds. He makes simple logical points with which he convinced then leadership to allow the farm to continue undisturbed. Recalling the statement of Dr Bandey who told Sheikh Abdulla that the farm could be shifted only on his dead body he points out that the scientist community who know the logic of coexistence of sheep and hangul is not yet dead and he is still living and the State administration that owes to him sheep industry in Kashmir can’t make a mockery of his mission. He regrets that so far we didn’t develop a deer breeding farm to help wildlife department.
He can’t resist tears when he sees grazing lands being encroached, agricultural land converted into nonproductive purposes or even orchards. His work has been appreciated by no less than the iron lady of India, Indira Gandhi. As long as we farm sheep the legend of Dr Wani along with his mentor Dr Bandey shall live on.
The most sacred tears are those that are spontaneously shed for the sake of the morally sublime cause, suprapersonal causes, for love and out of gratitude. These tears flowed profusely from many doctors during an ecstatic experience of hearing Dr G N Wani lecturing during the function on world veterinary day. Those tears, I hope, shall fertilize the new soil of young vets and great flowers shall bloom.
Dr Wani has been a great administrator. During his heyday he may have irritated many and many were just unnerved when they heard his name. Even officers were too scared to approach him. Today that may appear too harsh an attitude but that worked those days. Retrospective judgments may not be correct. I had heard people say ‘work is worship’ but Dr Wani is living embodiment of this adage. He says that he has served profession for the glory of God and that he never begged for promotion and in fact gave in writing that he is not senior and thus didn’t deserve a particular promotion.
My list of the most important Kashmiris, its greatest unsung heroes in recent history, includes the name of Dr G N Wani. Those who know the story of transformation of livestock sector (that is so pivotal to its economy and future) in last few decades and how it was engineered by few great minds and visionaries would not be surprised by this choice. We often underestimate what one person can do. He can revolutionize the department and design miracles, take work out of those who think nokri is only a pension. He can conceive and successfully introduce new ideas that transform economy and pave way for thousands of jobs. Dr Wani is an example. Let those who talk of making a self reliant Kashmir produce a dozen of such officers and the job is largely done. This constitutes real freedom.
If you want to know how a Muslim should be ideally in relation to his job meet Dr Wani. His has been a life of continuous self sacrifice for sheep. He didn’t think he had a family. The department was his family. The concept of casual leave and other leaves hardly figured in his dictionary. Even his dreams were coloured by this superhuman devotion to the cause of sheep. If a sheep in any govt. farm had any problem he might dream of that particular farm and visit it early morning or even during the night. He has such dreams even today. He fondly remembers one of the supervisors who would keep night vigils or offer niyaz in some shrines for the health of departmental sheep. I wrote this piece as a token of gratitude that the department of sheep husbandry and all those who farm sheep or enjoy locally produced mutton owe to this great man. It is unfortunate that there are some great men living in our midst who we have written off as if they never lived, as if we don’t owe much to them. Neither our media spots them nor those who institute this and that award for such great sons of the soil. But he shall continue to be rewarded in the great memory of all those with whom he has worked and those he has inspired and shall continue to inspire as long as Kashmiris rear cross bred sheep. People of Kashmir, the poor farmers and Chopans of Kashmir have awarded him by showing interest in sheep farming but those who have occupied grazing land and who wish to shift Dachigam sheep farm and thus erasing a glorious chapter of history of the department are gnawing at his flesh. Hangul would not have become critically endangered if wild life department had the good fortune of such dedicated and visionary leadership during 40’s or 50’s.
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 24 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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