The Transition: Imperatives in Kashmir

In my recent posts in this column, I have focused mainly on the imperatives to be taken care relating to the issues of the youth in the region. This is important for any region and society, and particularly so in the context of Kashmir. The contextual inducement for me has been the transition taking place in the Kashmir region consequent upon recent administrative transformations. Now this transformation needs to be coupled by both individual and collective application of mind and efforts to carry the positive results forward.

While by and large there have been disconnects between the governance and the governed, the recent administrative reforms initiated by the Modi Government have stirred and intrigued the mind of the people on the ground. This is a very important juncture and there is an urgency of acting upon the reforms initiated, we know from the history of global development trajectory that the interactional dynamics of the various entities need to evolve a new set of shared cultural values to enhance the value of the interactions (a) between the Government and the Governed; and (b) among the various social groups. In this, we need to move beyond the perception of the government as the only change agents, and to explore new dynamics and practices for social functioning. The new dynamics calls for a new way of functioning at the collective level, at the individual level and in government performing governance.

These Behavioural transformations would not however happen in a vacuum but has to be founded on the appreciation of the contextual realities. While talking of the contextual realities, we have to necessarily adopt the contemporary approach of understanding both the geographic and the institutional characteristics of the Kashmir region. The traditional understanding of geography is limited to the territory, but we need to move beyond. Our experience has been that the borders in the Kashmir region have not served as boundaries but as a continuum of a different kind costing peace and lives. Now we need to alter the character of this continuum from peace-disturbance to peace-enhancing. Further the social norms in the region have been under pressure for quite long. The shared endeavor should be to ensure that both that institutions of society and the state thrive When one of these institutions gets highly devalued and damaged, we have to find routes for recovery through the other institution retaining its health more or less intact.

When a society decays, it is the responsibility of the state to play its role for reviving the social health. When the state devalues itself, the society has to emerge from below to reinvent the sanctity of the state. This can be ensured only when there is a culture in the sense of character and principle in the individuals conducting social business as well as in the government performing governance. The Kashmir region needs today.

The new culture demands orientation towards facilitating the movement and exchange of people and commodities. It should be in sync with any new technology, knowledge and ideas irrespective of whether these are home-grown or inflows from outside. What is significant in this is to ensure the presence of a minimum level of globally acceptable efficiency and competence in all the endeavors; this is where the challenge lies.

As emphasized above, facing the challenge and overcoming it would be possible only when there is collective effort by all in which the two institutions of state and society thrive in a convergence mode. This convergence has necessarily to start from the local and become social-wide. One may say that this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, we must hasten to add that this can be done and achieved easier with shared endeavors. To begin with, let us restore the traditional role of Educational institutions as centers of social and progressive thinking and activity. In such an atmosphere the social capital would gain a new orientation for shared, spontaneous and sustainable social upliftment stunting the spread of politics of convenience and connivance for personal aggrandizement. Further this would make the play of collusion politicking for generation of familial and election advantages rather difficult.

The changes taking place at the local level should be coupled by behavioural transformations in the non-state organizations as well. This is the only way to enhance the institutional relevance of the state and the society. If we can move ahead in this direction, the convergence between the state and the society would be a natural outcome. What more we need for a sustainable social future. There would be a natural connect between the state and the people.