Do As Director

It was quite a surgical strike. Yes-Sirgical. An official of Kashmir’s education department (DESK) took action against some teachers found absent from duties on the second day of Eid, 6th June. Reportedly the Director of Education, Kashmir, had already begun the raids a day before Eid, on Arfa. Going by the book, as they say, the action is legally valid; a morbid mindset might say that it was needed. But is this a right decision, and what does it reflect.

As a starter, it’s a suspension of sense. Ahead, it reflects our core ignorance about who we are, and an abject surrender of the human in us. Our overwrought officials, with a delusive sense of being in positions of power seldom take trouble to look a little beneath the surface. If we did, it was easy to grasp that our positions in power, are without a point. We are worthless servants of a system that gives us a false consciousness of being powerful. If you wanted to test it, just apply the rules to the ones above you. You will get to know your worth.

Someone viewing us from outside can easily recognise that we behave like sidekicks of a bully, frightening people into submission. This is not a comment on any person, it is a general  assessment of our bureaucracy. This bureaucracy looks at rules as pellet guns to control people. Any wise application of law is finally meant to streamline the human affairs, not to wildly chase people into submission. I’m not pleading for anarchy, that is the worst thing under the sun. I even don’t favour taking refuge in ‘religious sensibilities’, that is a corruption we need to weed out consciously. The point is how to apply law, in the spirit of law. And two, how to relate law to our society. Right now, we are doing none. In fact, we do everything to do the contrary. We are psychologically ailing, mentally sick. We need to treat this pathological condition. And it is no crackpot conclusion that the sickness of our mind, and the crisis in our politics feed each other.

It’s a long debate, but here we focus on this incident.

In any Muslim society, Eid doesn’t end on the first day. It’s an unsaid, but understood, convention of a Muslim society. We celebrate this consensus in each one way. Our markets are closed, except the ones particularly open for the day. Our schools are off, as children have a fun day. Our families are busy turning host one moment, guest the other. It is one huge act of calling each other, messaging each other, wishing each other, visiting each other, meeting each other, and finally living each other. If there is any moment one can call really human, it’s this. Marx dreamt of a stateless society, something of a bliss. He forgot to think of a holiday like Eid, or Christmas, or Deewali, where societies turn into one large family,  turning the state off for a day or two. Marx should have seen this liberating side of religion too!

But here in Kashmir this beast called bureaucracy derives pleasure in prowling on a day when people enjoy being people, and not employees. In Kashmir, this state is really cruel by its very being. And our officers relish to make us taste this cruelty.

How nasty this application of law, and the conduct of bureaucracy. It reminds of many great works that reflect human revolt against this wanton and unwise applications of rules. Read  Catch 22. Listen to the Sermon of Mount. But before the two, here is that famous sentence from Oliver Twist that catches it raw and uncensored.

A character in the novel, Mr. Bumble, pleads innocence, for he believed that the actual culprit was his wife. He is shocked to hear that, “in the eye of the law”,  he is “more guilty than his wife, “for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.” What Mr. Bumble says is a telling indictment of how law practitioners, and law imposers, murder common sense. Here is Mr. Bumble’s pungent retort:

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a(n) ass—a(n) idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his, eyes may be opened by experience—by experience.”

Can our officers take a leave for a day, let them choose the second day of Eid for this, and read these lines – repeatedly. It’s the world of experience that finally distills in the shape of this clause – Law is an ass. It’s great wisdom.

Experience demanded that all our officers, for years now, advocated for a longer holiday on Eid. It is as simple as that, and it is a mathematical demand for us. Muslims have just two occasions year round when they are all into celebratory mood, and observe a symbolism that is sacred to them. The contrast highlighted by Shah Faesal, placing the DESJ (Education Directorate, Jammu) order of having a 5 day break for Pooja, besides the suspension order of the CEO on the second day of Eid, captures it brazenly. How sensible, and connected to the society, the officials in Jammu are. And how ours is a case of mind turned up side town.

Tailpiece: A serious understanding of how law becomes cruel, and meaningless, needs a thorough reading of the Sermon of the Mount. But for that you need a sabbatical. And for the sabbatical you have to apply before the same officials. Jesus Christ!