The dismay, the displeasure, and the annoyance expressed by various political parties especially those involved in the movement for Kashmir’s total and absolute freedom on the outcome of the last Indo-Pak meeting is a real tragedy of our times! People who profess to aspire for total independence are not expected to base their moves on the whims of outsiders no matter how sincere and sympathetic they claim to be to the cause! Kashmiris over the years have developed a dependent mind-set in all spheres of the society. They appear to have given a go by to even independent thinking. It is very funny to observe that every time the leaders of the two countries meet anywhere in the world, we are keenly waiting whether Kashmir is mentioned or not.
Unfortunately, this dependent mind-set is not limited to our political process only but has pervaded every part of our society and is starkly evident in all our activities. Be it the protection and restoration of our pollution threatened water bodies; the mindlessly vandalised forests; the garbage laden streets and lanes; the gross violations of building norms; encroachments and land grabbing and in the recent times the uncontrollable stray dog menace. We do not take any initiative in redressing these problems but wait for the government in which we have no faith to do the needful. If we do not consider this to be our legal government then how do we expect them to take care of all our problems? Going by total hypocrisy we consider the present rulers to be responsible only for Bijli, Sadak, and Pani and still refuse to take any initiative to force them to attend to these basic civic facilities. In addition, we refuse to initiate any voluntary steps to take care of all the violations by our own fellow countrymen concerning environment, urban laws, and so on. Nor do we believe in self-help if the government fails to attend to our problems. Yes, we are past masters in pinning. Always lot of pinning but no productive work! Just imagine if only 10% of the population of Srinagar city decides to attend physically to the civic needs such as cleaning the garbage, the polluted water bodies, ensuring traffic regulations, and so on what a clean and orderly capital city we would have! A 150 thousand people on the roads attending to all the basic civic duties instead of idling away their time in gossiping and criticising the government in which they have no faith!
In the political arena, we did start a movement in 1931 for our total emancipation after centuries of external rule. Unfortunately, instead of following an independent course, our so called leaders mortgaged the movement to our two neighbouring countries. The main problem with these leaders had been their bloated egos and development of a personality cult around them. Subsequently they were enveloped by the worst form of nepotism. People did not matter to them. Their own egos and their own dynasties were their major priorities. Such people have always been a part of our society right from the days Kashmir lost its sovereignty. In fact, one of the causes of losing the sovereignty had been some people seeking outside aid to settle our own internal problems. Had we our own independent outlook we would have never looked outside and sorted out our affairs ourselves. The long external rule completely wiped out our free and independent thinking and we became serfs and slaves to serve the outside masters. This serf mentality accentuated after 1947 when we were burdened with two new external masters in perennial conflict with each other. They got Kashmiris as readymade guinea pigs to experiment their new ideologies of secularism and two-nation theory. We still continue to offer ourselves as guinea pigs to these and newer ideologies in spite of the travails we have undergone in last 65 years.
Ultimately, it boils down to the fundamental principle that to aim for an independent goal we have to change our mind-set. People with totally dependent mind-sets can neither imagine nor reach an independent goal. We have to begin from the very basics. We have to give up the paralytic and zombie like attitude of the lotus eaters and inculcate the spirit of an independent initiative. Let us begin by speaking and standing by the truth regardless of the consequences. Let us be honest, first to our own selves and then to others. If we take the initiative to clean up our daily lives, there will be a fundamental change in our thinking. We will regain the lost initiative in all spheres including our political outlook. The question is who will bell the proverbial cat? The leaders we have from all sides are too fatigued to think of a new and a dynamic initiative. They have grown up as stereo-types and it is no use to expect them to change now at this late stage. Our best hope is the youth who are not carrying any burdens of the past but are knowledgeable enough to know their history. Presently, one and all are trying to woo them with the lolly pops and all sorts of other goodies. Interested parties have been trying their best to turn them into armies of serfs on dole. However, there are umpteen examples where the youth have taken the initiative to be on their own and be innovative. There are many successful entrepreneurs in the field now. We have to trust them and have faith in them. We have to guide them. We have to help them. If our youth develop an independent mind-set and are able take independent initiatives with self-respect and dignity, we would have in the true sense opened the road to the most cherished independent goal. The ultimate emancipation regardless of the structure or the set up in which we get it!
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