Younger the better, not necessarily the stronger
Omar Abdullah – the burden of inheritance assigns two instant jobs. One to assess Arjimand Hussain Talib as an author and the second to evaluate Omar Abdullah as chief minister. Both are to be seen independently with a note of caution. None of the two is neither to be denied the credit nor granted more than he genuinely deserves.
First the author. A good attempt to hinge some otherwise disparate subjects and to lend them a common theme. Though the title appears to be more biographical, but the book, by the very content is focussed on the issues of governance. .
Just a comment on the making of the book. It would have made a better format to have one central idea spread over the whole work rather than including some already published essays. The author could have taken inputs from his own published material to make one theme run through the scheme of chapters. Well, that is author’s own way of doing it, a reader can just suggest. By and large an admirable authorship coupled by a standard publication.
Now the subject matter. In the context of Kashmir, do CMs matter? Or to put it more realistically, how much do they? The role of CMs in Kashmir is to be studied against the background they are posted against. Against the parameters they are allowed to operate. We can’t expect wonders from the man in the office given the volatility he confronts outside. Prejudice apart, politics apart, this concession is to be granted to Omar Abdullah too. We can’t have a Narendra Modi in Kashmir who dares New Delhi to assert his position as the head of the state. When Omar appeared on the horizon, it was an excitement. The state had the youngest chief minister. Thus followed the adjectives. Young and dynamic. Young and energetic. Young and inspiring. Whatever, but `young’ stayed as a necessary appendage. Actually people were more swept by the age of the man than by his competence to rule. The attention he got was more because of his exuberance as an individual, less for the acumen needed to shoulder a responsibility like this.
Yes, we can perform better when young. As we grow older, we pine away. So the best one can expect from an individual is when he is not past his prime. Dr. Haseeb Drabu’s strong liking for young minds exudes a lot of optimism. But some questions remain. Is being young an achievement which you strive for? Or it’s the unavoidable outcome of a biological determinism. What’s my contribution in making myself stay young. What counts? Your performance as a responsible head of the state or your age. Yes, young are needed and young must be preferred, but the difference lies in the position. Young models, young singers, young sportspersons – but that can’t be extended to all spheres of life. A politician gains his experience through age making him maturer with every passing day.
Now what Dr. Drabu calls a `generational shift’ when seen in a context appears to be a political incident. One day earlier when Farooq Abdullah was sure to be announced as the chief minister, something happened. Congress had a different move in the mind. Hence the decision. Would that one situational development, whatever the reasons, be called a `generational shift’. The whole generation had nothing to do with what was boiling up in the corridors of power. Besides, when it comes to decision making in politics, is age playing to the advantage of Omar Abdullah or the story is reverse. For his age, he can’t be too tough an object to be tackled for a hard-faced bureaucracy. It takes a nerve, not appeal, to stand the storm in politics. Having said this, we don’t mean that age must disqualify you from the responsibility you have been asked to shoulder.
Youth happens to you. So to say, one can’t help but be young. So if we like someone just for being young, would that push us to another extreme. Shall we then, start disliking him when he ages. Sure, young are investment, old consumption. But then all investments are bound to end up in consumption. At last.
Younger the better, but why let age enjoy the centrality of our debate? Advantage it’s to be young, achievement it’s not.