Reading Manzoor Fazili

Reading him one understands why reading classics in political science matters


We have great many political analysts and columnists commenting on social, political and economic issues. But very few academics, who have good grounding in the history of ideas, in world history and grasp the dialectical movement in history. Manzoor Fazili was one such scholar to whom one could turn in the age of confusion that is ours. Part of our tragedy lies in being politically illiterate although we may be great gossipers on politics and resolve Kashmir issue while sipping the tea. We have little humility to learn from Masters from Plato to Foucault. Reading Fazili one understands why reading classics in political science matters.
More than a political analyst I see him as a historian who deftly applies the tools that very few of his contemporaries could master. Today illustrious Hasan would have to write like Fazili on issues that have eaten the vitals of our society.  And  he was himself a great reader till his last day.
While Fazili was known for his secular credentials and a terror to those who  invoked theological jargon to serve their ideological interests he was an embodiment of the best of ethical and mystical tradition in his illustrious family that has produced Kashmir’s great historian Hasan whom he served to better introduce to English reading public through Hasan: Kashmir Historiographer (1983). His faith in God was unshakeable. He recalled Plato’s advice not to go for treatment when one has good reason to believe that it may be futile. He refused to take medicine in last two weeks asking to be allowed to die peacefully. One of his students recalled that in 1960s when there was some function at his school hosted by him it rained and the function had to be carried in the open. He said God! I am not known to be your great  devotee but stop rain and I will have reason to praise you. Lo and behold rain stopped almost miraculously and people kissed his hands. He told me about some significant conversations with some mystics. He didn’t abandon even the practice of khatam in his house and actively participated in the proceedings.
I have enjoyed some of most intensive and enlightening discussions with Fazili. More than his/her books it is conversation with an author that the best in him/her comes. I recall my last conversation with him that I recorded and am reproducing from the same.
I asked: What is your take about our contemporary culture? “What culture? There is no culture when collective conscience is lost and there comes graft culture.” The wisdom is to keep silent when you will not be heard. We have been traded for power and pelf. Our governing elite flattered their masters at the Centre and were in turn flattered. Collective conscience was the casualty. In this graft culture only value is selfishness. Hardly any Kashmiri knows what he says or what he should do. Petty leadership.”
“What to do now, Sir?” “Chanakya is on my pillow. He says that when you see some State where you can’t do anything, keep silent as your every word you have uttered will be with the King.” This was his comment about our mukhbir culture, about the panoptican of which Foucault talks. He recalled that Kalhana has also said this. As he understood it, the Prophet (SAW) has also said this for the age of fitna. “When I saw that nothing can be changed by intellectual endeavour, thank God he sent me a special diseases and the fever to change the world changed.”
“Can class framework frame the K question?” “No solution to conflict. I see India continuing. Indian National Security Advisor said that we have 8000 knowledge of statecraft. They have wisdom to win us by hook or crook. But in Kashmir case they seem to lose sense. Otherwise Indian governing elite has a capacity to govern entire population of India.”
He illustrated failure of bureaucracy through a local example of College built at a site where even devils can’t ordinarily tread. He had proposed to local administration to ask 12 or so professors from Bandipore regarding the best site for the College. But he was not heard. Instead a local businessman had proposed the current site and succeeded.
He proudly asserted that he is a teacher. Indeed he was an example of what he called in his little known book A Liberated Teacher.
Regarding bureaucracy he had nothing but scorn. Bureaucrats have nothing to do with Ideas or Ideals that religious and ethical traditions talk about. They live in another world. However, I have an apology for bureaucrats. They are supposed to administer, to perpetuate class rule, to serve ruling elite and have to please the Ministers who are in turn compelled to please voters. And it is the Capital, the rich that ultimately controls vote bank. Where is then the room for a noble heart that could bleed for the common people in such an alienating, mechanical, heartless mechanism?” I recall Weber’s classic analysis of bureaucracy that sends chills down my spine. Every bureaucrat or aspirant for being one should read it.
“What about Kashmir economy, Sir”?  “What economy are you talking about? There used to be agriculture economy and now we are unable to implement a law that would prevent appropriating agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.” “Where corruption rules one should not talk of economic development. I was denied my promotion as promoting authority grabbed 15 lacs but this corrupt officer was later jailed on charges of corruption, released and that is all. Where do you see the scope to intervene?” “Only God can intervene.” “Hegel says that in graft culture martyrs are not produced. Its administrators or soldiers will not die for the State as they can’t have sympathy for public.” “Our leaders are grafted. Who is ready to live a simple life? Show me any leader.” Known for his simple life he spent his life mostly in a small house that Professors are not expected to inhabit today.  Recalling that professors made their children doctors and he didn’t, I recall Plato’s remark that only (morally or spiritually) sick societies produce and privilege doctors. One should not treat difficult cases but accept the sweet company of the greatest healer, Death. 
“Where shall youth go for jobs?”  Almost with tears in his eyes he replied while narrowing the discussion on knowledge economy: “This is the tragedy. I don’t know.  See our BEd colleges. See our youth going to get PHDs and write non-sense theses. See mushrooming private schools and tuition culture. We are not ready for education. How can there be good jobs or knowledge economy.”
“What is the way forward?” “None as I see. God has to intervene, to use religious terminology. I can’t predict way forward. There is always a silent position. Religious people say God has to intervene. Hegel’s dialectics implies something similar.”
“What sums up meaning of life? What has been your take?” He brought a paper on which were printed the following quotes to reply.
First I was dying
Dying to marry and have children and then I was drying to
I Forgot To Live. First, I was dying to finish my high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
Then I was dying to marry and have children.
 And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could go back to work.
But then I was dying to retire.
And now I'm dying. Suddenly I realized that I forgot to live.
Don't let this happen to you.
Appreciate your present situation.
Enjoy each day.
And “We lose our health to make money and then to restore our heath we lose that money. While worrying about future we forget to live.”
Pirs are Platonists. Fazili too was a Platonist but in Politics. Only philosophers should be kings. “Statecraft is a difficult art. Needs deep knowledge. Those not knowing political science ( the term understood in broader sense as the science of governing) should not be allowed to rule.”
Acknowledging his failure to be brave enough to publicly slap the humbug that he mostly saw around himself he said that now that he stands very near the other shore he musters more courage. But then, he quickly realizes futility of our great ideas in a culture that has been corrupted to the core.” Ripeness is all. The rest is silence.”
Bandipore is orphaned. To whom can you now approach for analyzing contemporary politics to its naked depths? As a columnist, a historian, a conversationalist and most importantly as a scholar of political science that he presented for the laity in Kashmiri language as well his services to Kashmir culture can’t be ignored. It is about people like him that Iqbal has praised the land of Wular (Bandipore?)
Kab tak chupae rahee gae zamanae ki aankh sae
HA abe Wular ka har gohre yekdana

Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST

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