The newspaper headlines that we read every day in the morning tell us about what is happening, the direction in which our socio-politico-economy is moving and the possible status of peace, stability and happiness in the coming days. We get this varied information for local, national and international levels; the information for various levels give us inadvertently an opportunity for comparative appreciation of the local scenario. On a single day, unless something exceptional happens, the normal headlines of the daily newspapers have more or less characteristic similarities everywhere. In one of the recent days, the headlines in the Kashmir region carried the following headlines:
A. “Haftchinar blaze devours two precious lives, renders families homeless: Seeing the massive flames all over his house, Sheikh rushed upstairs to rescue his family, but the powerful flames overwhelmed Sheikh rendering him too helpless to reach out to his family.”
B. “The Special Operations Group (SOG) Jammu and police today arrested a commander of Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) from Jhajjar Kotli on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway when he was on way here along with arms, ammunition and cash to carry out terror strike.
He has been identified as Malik Umaid alias Abdullah son of Abdul Rashid Malik, a resident of Yaripora in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.”
C. “Srinagar’s solid waste management in disarray: SMC has just 120 hoppers to collect, transport and segregated waste from municipal wards: Even as Srinagar city generates nearly 450 metric tonne solid waste daily, the much-needed solid waste management rules are not implemented on the ground.”
D. “New industrial scheme will make J&K a hub of business & employment”
E. “Arch of world’s highest railway bridge on Chenab river in J-K completed: The 1.3-kilometre-long bridge aims to boost connectivity to the Kashmir Valley and it is being constructed at a cost of Rs 1,486 crore as part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project.”
All these five headlines, though of a single day, convey different implications of the social life in the Kashmir Region. The first headline conveys the routine risk a family may face while eking out a livelihood – the situation of the general level of existence and the insurance for livelihood, given the socio-economic facilities available. The second headline speaks of the busy engagement of the security forces to ensure life to the general populace in their regular pursuit of life in the especial context of the Kashmir Region; on certain days this would be replaced by ambushes by a few insurgents and the consequential loss of lives. The third headline portrays the picture of the difficulty of governance and the maintenance responsibilities faced in a context of modern urbanisation processes. It also speaks of the contemporary challenges being faced in the environmental sector in the Paradise on Earth. The fourth headline speaks of the governance efforts to provide a new direction and impetus to the socio-economic setting of the Kashmir region. The fifth headline manifests to the world what is possible and charmingly at that.
Now the time is for the people of our Kashmir Region to make a choice and a shared choice on what exactly we are looking for in the five scenarios of the five newspaper headlines. The first two scenarios reflect an atmosphere of risk and uncertainty. While risk is a part and parcel of life, human beings have always longed for reduction in this risk but definitely not for one where the risks are multiplied by uncertainties. We all look for a social context wherein we can lead our individual and social life without worrying for survival till the next moment, the tensions for rising inequality do not dominate the social relationships, and the opportunities for meaningful engagement for social advancement are equalised by and large. The third headline shows, as stated, the governance challenges of development administration. Now the last two headlines reemphasise the primacy of an enabling government to achieve shared social transformation.
Here I would like to recall the need for an inclusive and comprehensive development model for the Kashmir Region as enunciated in my last four pieces in this column. The Kashmir Region is now at an historical juncture, and the development trajectory of the world tells us that development calls for catching the historical moment and not allowing it to slip. The world is now said to be in the Fourth Industrial Revolution phase: “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.” This is where the Complexity Economists are asserting the need for understanding the dynamics of rising complexity of the modern-day economic functioning: “For Adam Smith, the secret to the wealth of nations was related to the division of labour. As people and firms specialize in different activities, economic efficiency increases. This division of labour, however, is limited by the extent of the market: The bigger the market, the more its participants can specialize and the deeper the division of labour that can be achieved. This suggests that wealth and development are related to the complexity that emerges from the interactions between the increasing number of individual activities that conform an economy”.
Let us take a look at a powerful statement provided by the Complexity Economists: “Take a look around your house. Take a look at what you are wearing. Take a look out your window. No matter where you are, from the biggest industrialized city to the smallest rural village, you are surrounded by economic activity and its results. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the planet is abuzz with humans designing, organizing, manufacturing, servicing, transporting, communicating, buying, and selling.”
In fine, the Kashmir Region now stands at a historical juncture to catch a moment for Transition to long term transformation and cope the unfolding complexities. But Transition is not something Funny and which would fall from the sky. What is needed is a shared commitment between the Government and the public for a bright future. For the government, the recent steps speak volumes of the movement towards convergence with the needs of the general public for reclaiming the Paradise on Earth. What remains is the reorientation of the few splinter groups in their behaviour and engagement for their own good and for the common good. If this happens, sky is the limit for the land and people of the region.