Meeting Challenges In 2013

FUTILITY of measuring time in terms of days, months and years has often been stressed at the metaphysical level like in the words of the Bard of the East “Aik Zamaney Ki Rau Jis Mein Na Din Hai Na Raat” (a constant current of time that knows no day or night). But still the mankind has learnt no better method to deal with the challenges of existence than measuring, managing and valuing time. A day, a month and a year are therefore inescapable requirements of a systemic society.
Whether one believes in the ceremonial part of a new year or not but it has traditionally provided an occasion to conduct an audit of performance at personal and collective levels. The amount of trust reposed by our readers and the society in general in us inspires the Greater Kashmir to help this process of introspection and identification of the areas of national concern that need our collective response.
There are obvious pitfalls in identifying issues that face a highly politicized place like ours. For many amongst us the argument begins and ends with the resolution of undeniable political conflict about Kashmir. Should we therefore think of nothing else? Is a stand-alone political salvation a panacea for every ill that we as a people have contracted?  That is a question that needs to be taken head on. Whatever happens to us at the broader political level, should we not try and upgrade our systems, should we not be disturbed by the erosion of our values or the near collapse of a once exemplary social order?
Kashmir, not so much the other two regions of our diverse state seems to be frozen in a state of morbidity while the neighbourhood has been in a mode of virtual revolution on issues that have plagued the region for long but occupy centre-stage of popular discourse as a result of this new activity. The anti-corruption movement in India might have caught the imagination of the outer world but it has failed to stir us as a people into any kind of response. Nothing seems to shock us as each one of us is made to live a corrupt life either as a giver or a receiver but surely as a participant in a system that seems beyond retrieval but could actually change with a conscientious effort. A minister may appear with his pants down in full public view or a two dime politician growing overnight into the richest Seth of his area or a bureaucrat thumbing nose at the system in becoming richer than any industrialist or landlord but the respectability that comes from the society alone is assured. Corruption is declared endemic in our society but in this state it is worse. It has in the past many decades been promoted as an official policy to create a so-called nationalist infrastructure which has granted immunity to politicians, and the system has been developed to protect them rather than punish. In rest of the country, heads of ministers and politicians have rolled in the face of mounting public pressure but in J&K any action against a person in high position is viewed as an assault on the national interest. This immunity has travelled down the line to cover everyone except the powerless common man. It is the common man that seems to be setting agenda for a new system while here even the existing institutions are being subverted. No wonder there are no corruption convicts in J&K. Can it be our resolve to at least try for a change in the New Year?
A free media is the heart and soul of a modern democracy. But there is very little to write home about in the highly regulated, security-obsessed system that we live in. Nobody among local media has ever deliberately tried to compromise issues of security but the few hawks in the system, who don’t allow the Kashmir media the same space that is available to rest of the country are prone to be judged by history as the guilty persons of India who perpetuate a kind of unnecessary, avoidable apartheid. But in an assessment of its impact it is obvious that while this situation may suit some it hurts us the most. The state as an institution must respond to this serious situation but it will need a public pressure to move. 2013 could also be dedicated to freedom of media in J&K.
Environment consciousness has mercifully started to dawn on us. Even though  it was from Kashmir that the most fundamental, profound and complete note of caution was sounded by Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA) seven centuries back on the intrinsic relation between food and forests we have proved unworthy followers of the patron saint. Could we at our individual levels try to rectify the rot in the New Year and earn the credibility to persuade others not to fiddle with the Kashmir Himalayas that are a source of sustenance to half of South Asia’s multitudes? Greater Kashmir on its part would continue focusing on issues of environment with sharper focus and expects a helping hand from the young residents of the state.
It has famously been said future wars would be fought over water. Within the country such wars are on whether it is over Cauvery or the defiance of Mamata Banerjee over Teesta settlement with Bangladesh. J&K feels completely disempowered about its resources with the result that we are reduced to a basket-case. No matter whether it is the sweltering heat of Jammu plains or the bone-chilling cold of Kashmir and Ladakh, energy produced on our resources is denied to us. Water and power resources as our basic ingredient of growth need to form the core of popular development discourse in the State. We have constantly lead this campaign of awareness. Let 2013 witness some concrete progress in renegotiation of terms with NHPC and return of projects that have earned many times more than their cost to the State. This new year we say a big NO to any Sahukari or further sell-outs.
While issues are galore but we would restrict ourselves only to these few and of course the wanton destruction of our land by no one but us. In absence of any control or government regulatory mechanism on construction activity, it becomes our duty to respond to the alarming situation on this front. It is not only the prospect of food insecurity that looms large on the state but the shrinking green space could affect Kashmir’s very fundamental image as a paradise on earth. Wake up we must to this monster of concrete replacing the greens, trees, waterways, farms and fields before it eats us up. We promise our part, would you too?

--Fayaz Kaloo

Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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