Guest control bugle has again been sounded by a regime with questionable moral standing. Quite apart from the order passed by the ruling regime, there are issues involved which have touched a raw nerve. On the grounds of austerity though, the guest control order passed by the government might have a justifiable ring to it. Nevertheless, what makes it questionable is the moral grounding of the agency which has passed the order. How ascetic is the regime calling for austerity? Does it have the moral authority to ask people to adopt austerity measures, given the fact that echelons of political executive as well as of the bureaucratic order hardly if ever adopt austere measures? The measures that could form a beacon light for people to follow. On the contrary, the naked exhibition of power on the streets with wailing sirens and bee-line of vehicles accompanying the high and the mighty not only scare many a sensitive soul, it leaves a negative impression difficult to shake-off.
Whose money is it anyway that is taken away by the hydrocarbon that fuels the bee-line of vehicles accompanying the democratic rajas? It could hardly be justified by the security argument. Moreover, what is it that makes our rulers so insecure? What is it that they fear? And, if at all fear weighs so heavily on the thinking of ruling set-up, what are the measures envisaged to work for a society without fear? None, that people know of. On the contrary, what seems to be strengthening day in and day out is the security apparatus to secure the ones going around with the sign board of being people's representatives. Besides security expenditure being mostly beyond scrutiny, there is hardly a restraint in what it takes to keep the democratic rajas and officialdom in such a measure of comfort, which could be the envy of political executives and bureaucrats of advanced countries.
How could such a regime ask people to adopt austere measures during marriage ceremonies by limiting the number of guests, as well as the number of dishes served to the guests? It is said that the charity begins at home, on a similar plane the regime that dared to challenge the societal thrift should first question their own bearings, their own style of living, before asking others to follow suit. In Great Britain, 10 Downing street housing residence of British Prime Minister is located in none too significant a side alley. The building as such has hardly the grandeur and exquisite sprawling lawns that decorate the residence of our Chief Minister in exclusive locality of Gupkar. Downing Street instead is a locality where ordinary Londoners live. Swedish Prime Minister—Olof Palme, highly reputed for his administrative skills and diplomatic acumen lived in an apartment while he was in office. As PM, he was shot dead in 1986 while walking back from his home from cinema. There was no bodyguard around to guard him and his wife.
In Middle East, where I have lived for three decades in countries we love to criticise for their autocratic and dictatorial regimes, the rulers are not as brash in their public appearances as our democratic rajas. They do not wrap their being in exclusive bearings, where it becomes well-nigh impossible for ordinary mortals to interact with them. It might be hard to believe, nevertheless a fact that in Gulf States, a modicum of tribal democracy is operative, where access to rulers and officialdom is much easier than what is encountered back home. I stand to know, since I have experienced it. And, the official machinery moves much more smoothly, so are the concerns addressed much more quickly than the cumbersome routine back home. There is a sea of difference in the life styles of political executives of political executives and bureaucrats in Europe and Middle East compared to what is witnessed back home.
How could such a set-up be expected to impart lessons to the populace across Pir Panchal and Zojila to adopt austerity measures? Such measures might be needed; however it could hardly be imposed. Were past be taken as a reflection what to expect, it would be a dismal failure. The change in attitude has to spring from within the society. Last year—2016 was crisis ridden, many a marriage had austerity writ large over it. It may not however be taken totally as imposed. Many a young couple entering matrimonial alliance strive to keep it as simple as possible. There are numerous examples of religious rites of marriages being conducted in mosques. There are also examples of bridegrooms going with a barat of limited number of guest of their own accord, an evident sign of voluntary social transformation. Though the number of such marriages may be limited, it is nevertheless a healthy trend that needs to be encouraged on societal level. It should in no way be imposed.
It might be well-nigh impossible to limit the number of guests, given that people feel obliged to invite on reciprocal basis, all those who have invited them. Nevertheless it might be prudent to limit the number of dishes to traditional seven courses of yore, besides avoiding ostentations that weigh heavily on the societal set-up. However, far from official imposition, the cross section of civil society should come forward to affect the needed social transformation.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist