Of Dum and Dee

For anyone seeking a worthwhile opening to ease the tension in the State it should have been obvious that fresh elections to the Assembly was the only sensible option open to the State.
Of  Dum and Dee
File Photo

Between the devil and the deep sea. Not much difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. More of the same. No way different. President replaces Governor, and both in any case are answerable to the executive where Mr. Narendra Modi  presides. I don't know whether the seal of the Presidential office will be available to Governor Satya Pal Malik  but that shouldn't inhibit him as long as he has the ear of Mr Modi and his team. That's for the record. Also for the record, it must be understood that Governor Malik will continue to be in charge. Y'see, in a constitutional democracy such niceties must be observed. In real terms it is just  that  old, and no more than that, in a much older bottle. That's the "dum" of the tweedle for you. For the rest the Governor continues to do the Centre's behest, not even a token presence of public opinion to worry about. That could continue  for six months, or who knows,  more in this time and era when you just issue a firman and  insist it be implemented. One would have much loved to see someone trying seriously to give a respite to this tortured State,  a stranger to peace and growth for  decades,  untouched  by the  promises  made   by none less  than Mr Modi himself. Instead of the  "talks" and "hugs." repeatedly promised  by the  Prime Minister what has  been delivered  is "all out" war, with boli (talks) gone and goli (bullet) very much  a part of average workaday life. Innocent civilians getting killed by the dozen, with the odd soldier or policeman occasionally keeping company, felled by  militant bullets. Elected governments have come and gone, mostly unnoticed  except for those whose personal fortunes may have been linked to their comings and goings.   Everything is done in the name of the constitutions of the nation and that of the State. And that brings you to the "dee" in the Tweedledee of the formulation at the beginning. Tweedledum and Tweedledee.  I  repeat for the umpteenth time here  the truth that the Indo-Kashmir story is an unending one. And one doesn't see around  oneself the kind of honesty and integrity nor the kind of statesmanship required to rid us of the festering sore that has sucked the life-blood of the people of the State. Somehow the rest of the world, including India and Pakistan, seem to revel in the tragedy that is Kashmir. Past masters in the art of hoodwinking! Clever lawyers outwitting each other at the  drop of their hat. Jihadis and the lynch-men, manipulators of faith, taking to Kashmir as a promotional gambit of immense negative potential, if only to sustain their respective messages of hate and discord. And of buyers there seems to be no dearth. Kashmir sounds attractive given the historic and the short perspective, and currently a point of attraction for promoters of hatred   sought to be perpetuated in this land by our saffronite brethren, as  a side show perhaps to the endeavors of American President Trump to see his country,  exclusively through the lily white prism of European white settlers versus the rest (the Blacks, the Latinos, Asians Muslims etc) and to the so-called civilizational clash manifesting  itself in Europe.   So why am I whining. No particular reason except that it's becoming a bit tiring now. I am sickened by the reckless killings palmed off as our plan to transform ourselves from jahanam  to  Jannat. The profile of militancy in the State is undergoing a drastic change with the number of  young, educated  recruits  to militant  ranks growing, adopting the colours of  one or the other  extremist outfits,  drawn to the gun by the presence of Security personnel, the ongoing killings  and the the carnage that appears to have overtaken  home. I am worried by the virtual carte blanche given to  the Security Forces  to go "all out" to suppress the militancy,  and the consequent  urge  among the educated youth to take to the gun. They become easy fodder for ideologies propounded by their terrorist peers the world over. Ridiculous it may seem, but let me wind up where I began. The Tweedledum and Tweedledeee. Yes, I am back there. For the record, let it be noted that the newly elected Sarpanches from the State are said to have called on the Prime Minister Modi in Delhi the other day, all duly elected and certified as such by  Authority. True, most of them in the valley  haven't perhaps gone back to their homes post- election, fearing popular wrath, and unable to deliver succor to  the  suffering population. For anyone seeking a worthwhile opening to ease the tension in the State it should have been obvious that fresh elections to the  Assembly was  the only sensible option open to the State. If a Presidential intervention was considered necessary it should have been accompanied by a call for fresh Assembly election.  Whatever the merits or demerits of an "elected" (even with 32 percent voting these do, even if only marginally, reflect a sense of popular participation in governance, howsoever flimsy. Not so with Sarpanches and Panches elected unopposed. At the very least it does provide a window to the citizen to at least have his voice aired by his  legislator. Whether it  actually happens or not is another matter.  But  that would not  suit the Bharatiya Janata Party's overall plans for the State. You cannot  question the view that the  BJP has largely succeeded in destabilizing the State's existence as a unified unit, that seeds of discord between Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were not only sown and allowed to grow from day one but are indeed being carefully nursed for each to look  different from the other. Separatism, with vilification of the  valley and its dominant Muslim population, continues to be the  loadstar of the BJP's short- and long-term plans. The smallest manifestation of it — I mean it – is the cry raised in Leh this week for a separate Ladakh University. Why, because Kargil is supposed to be getting one. Pray, how many colleges does Leh or  Kargil  have. It is  not the university they want; it's the money that chases one. Bihar, among some other States, for instance, has allowed teaching shops to grow like mushrooms – run, by MPs, MLAs and MLCs for years; some of  these shops  in  time turned into universities, merely by switching name plates; each such change or even retention of college status qualified the "institution"  as per rules to draw 90 percent grant from the University Grants Commission. Even an Ambani would envy them. The result 10 so-called students and a faculty of 12 or more per college, with the UGC coughing up 90 percent of the faculty salaries. The faculty if it existed would get a token payment while the rest would go to further enrich the politician entrepreneur. And all you needed to merit the largesse  buy two or three shops with boundary walls, put up  an impressive name plate to  bribe the babu and live happily thereafter. This is the story told me by a Governor of Bihar who perhaps rashly had chosen one evening to meet all the Vice-Chancellors of State Universities. And he ended up with almost hundred guests.

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