Satya Pal Malik is the new Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. I am not here to talk about hopes, fears and challenges for the new man. Neither is this a comment on Vohra legacy which may or may not be upheld by his successor. Leave the big to masters, I settle on the small.
A small thing caught my attention in this whole governor replacement story. The timing. It may sound too insignificant a subject to write on, but when we see it as a part of a process, it assumes significance. People are not bothered about the swearing-in ceremony of a governor. They don't care who replaces whom? But the question is that of sensitivity. Eid, like any other festival of any other community, involves a mass participation irrespective of a person's status and position. It's an occasion of joy not just for commons but for nobles too. Celebrations, though religious in origin, are secular in character. Faithful, faithless and all in between participate in festivals. So the point is logical, not ideo-logical.
People from administration, bureaucracy, police or politics are humans first. Not just officers, their staff and security (who suffer more) need a day off. They too belong to a society, to a culture. They too want to spend this time once or twice a year with their families. After all official duty is not what defines us all our life. Duty has other forms too. Was it such an emergency affair that the state would be drowned if Malik doesn't replace Vohra the same day, and is not sworn in the next. Was it so life-saving that Eid could wait, governor could not. Was it not possible to do it a little early or a little late to find a little space for Eid to breathe. By disregarding (or at least by not considering) our celebrations what message they are leaving. That we don't care. That your celebration is your concern. Would delaying the event change – or challenge – the Accession? Would it have weakened the Delhi-Kashmir link? Would it have summarily dismissed 35-A.
These decisions are taken at a higher level we know. But that `higher level' has to respect sensibilities operating on the lower level. That is what democracy means. That is what pluralism demands.
Our institutions of bureaucracy are already mired in a welcome-farewell culture of submission and sycophancy. It's more about bouquets and garlands than about any public good. They respond even when they are not called, and when they are, they can't help. Here it was none of their fault as they had no choice but to attend the duty, forget the rest. Well, the move may not be necessarily deliberate or in any case, intentional, but the effect it had was bad. That is why communities crave for a state where genuine mass emotions are given the respect and place they deserve. If it's incidental, it need be considered in future and if it's deliberate, it's being petty.