A routine event gives you an atypical feeling, sometimes. Last week, Saturday, May 6th 2023, a day-long conference on Corporate Governance was held at Islamia College of Science and Commerce. The conference was organised by Kashmir Angel Network.
A gathering of familiar faces, in an intimate atmosphere, discussing ideas and experiences rooted in societal commitments and experiments; it is a dose of delight. Given the times, sitting together and sharing ideas in a human ambience is like a morning breeze caressing a downcast face. It sprinkles life.
The deadly duo, power-of-technology and technology-of-power, has destroyed human relationships here. Now everything is artificial and dehumanising. In this situation stealing a moment or two, and talking face to face, is a relic of old times. One doesn’t know how long will it last, till we are all lost in the Virtual Reality.
Back to the day. There were many learned and enterprising people who graced the occasion, and spoke about different dimensions of corporate governance. I was asked to speak about the institutional perspective, in the backdrop of my experience as part of Greater Kashmir.
The largest media house of J&K, GK’s impact over the years has been significant. GK not only impacted journalism in Kashmir, but the overall society.
So talking about it goes well beyond it. Momentarily, we can take a step or two back, and look at the home grown success stories, like Greater Kashmir, with an unexcited, also unagitated, mindset.
It helps in drawing lessons on where we could have improved, and didn’t. It facilitates in underlining the areas we can now capitalise on, and improve. But at the same time, it also makes a room for us as a collective, to be happy about our successes, big or small.
While evaluating our success stories in any of the fields of enterprise, there is a need to maintain a ‘safe distance’. The person who undertakes an enterprise, and the enterprise as a societal entity, are two separate organisms. While we can praise, or criticise, the person in the frame, it shouldn’t be all about him. It results in an error of judgment, when we confuse the two. So before someone talks about an enterprise like Greater Kashmir, here are a few reminders.
One, striking a balance. When we talk of any success story, there is a danger of gravitating towards extremes. Praising it, forgetting that the story could have been better than what it is. Censuring it, discounting how great an effort it actually has been, and how it has pushed the limits in this direction. Two, an institution anywhere in the world, emerges from a particular society. It wades through a given set of political, economic, and cultural conditions. One cannot expect a 21st century institution in 1850s, and one shouldn’t wish to experience an institution in Srinagar thinking he is in Shanghai or San Francisco. Three, whenever we talk about our institutions – cultural, educational, commercial, policy making or independent thinking – do we employ our creativity to destroy things or else we employ creative destruction to clear the path to progress.
My understanding is, we need to take facts for facts, understand them in a context, and as part of that institutional atmosphere exhibit a certain sense of belonging, without being complacent about how our institutions need to improve, and compete at higher levels. Up ahead we also need to firm up our understanding on what an institution is, and what it does to a society. Circumventing the academics of it, an institution takes an effort beyond a person. A person might be the promoter of an effort. His energies and competence might sustain the effort. But unless it goes beyond a person, an institution doesn’t take birth.
But what does going beyond a person mean? It means getting people with required merit and handing over the respective jobs to them. It means taking decisions and framing policies based, not on personal likes or dislikes, but on institutional values, and institutional requirements.
Here, we need to make an experiential difference between ideal and real. In the life of institutions there are time when exceptions happen. When it looks that some ideal is being compromised, or a principle violated. But as long as it’s institutional compulsion, and not personal interest, that asks for such an exception, wisdom demands it be looked at as a momentary disruption. Any knee jerk reaction on this that amounts to trashing the entire effort doesn’t serve anyone.
We need to persist with good practices and insist on them time and again, but without being chaotic, or neurotic. We should continue contributing to the growth of our institutions, and help individuals go past their limitations. My experience at Greater Kashmir tells me that there is a lot of need for our institutions to be responsible towards the community it emerges from, and the community to be mindful of the limitations within which an institution works. My experience at GK is also that no institution works in isolation. It performs its functions among a constellation of institutions. If we have good institutions in other fields – business, education, healthcare, public policy – it contributes to the safety and growth of every single institution.
An important area of reflection for all our home grown institutions is how they treat the human resource. Does the growth of an institution sufficiently reflect in the growth of the persons associated with it? If that happens, our institutions can brave the toughest of challenges. And it is here that institutions ensure a longer life and a deeper impact.
One last thing, institutions should never refuse to learn. My experience at GK is that it has an appetite to learn. Its power to assimilate will reflect in its future, and its future will be shaped by its power to assimilate.
Good luck to all our institutions. That makes Kashmir a Greater Kashmir.
Author is Opinion Editor, Greater Kashmir
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK