Durbar move: A metaphor for power elite
Durbar Move, a metaphor for class move has come to an end. Lt Gov. Sinha has been groomed in mass culture of student politics. His rise in politics has been step by step, cutting class and caste lines. He was, in his student leadership days, perhaps more popular in minority and diversities than to majority caste students. Observing him from political lens from the stands, one would find him a decent student and passionate worker, hardly to affiliate him with the political culture of his party. No wonder, this decision to do away with it might suit journalism and politicians, who would create a discourse out of it to sensationalise it in the established jargons of ‘sharing of culture’ or ‘week long carnival’, but the fact of matter is it was never a cultural blending or sharing of norms. It had generated distances and judgements on cultures in binaries rather than blending of traditions.
The tradition was started during Dogra rule in 1872 by Maharaja Ranbir Singh, both for administrative purposes and for consolidating its monarchy. It was continued by the Jammu and Kashmir political class, after 1949 to have better life chances, escape from chill of wintery Kashmir and heat of hot weather of Jammu. Common people would find it mystic to look at the elite decisions and had never any say other than to accept it. Until 1960s, it had some purpose. Movements were hard, transport facilities were rare and connectivity was not instant, so it would promote the instrument of mobility and give cover to the information and outreach for business and jobs. Until 60s of the previous century, there was very nominal educated middle class, mostly Muslims and Pandits of the city, a few families that would make political culture and elite to afloat in power. It was their sojourn with the change of location, when nature would be nice with the weather.
The political consciousness and emerging of new classes became rapid in Kashmir after 1960s. While Jammu was in slumber and its elite were unable to come to terms with the new political churning, it did not have any institutionalised educated middle class to create transformation of its own. Kashmir was fortunate to have a transforming agency, in Kashmiri Pandits and a few Muslim families that were well spread over the valley. They were educated, becoming teachers, doctors, engineers and mostly with clerical positions. Jammu lagged behind. It did not have that agency of transforming class until it produced of its own by the close of the previous century. During the decade of 1960s, twin processes simultaneously worked in Kashmir. At one hand, the off shoot of development of state sponsored programmes were producing new educated class but at the same time political instability and bafflement of Great Abdullah phenomenon produced mystification of Kashmir. Instead to lead them to progressive class on market lines, it was seduced to a dogmatic mystification with bridled inferiority over its own culture and language. Durbar Move would enhance it; Kashmiris would not be welcome in Jammu and Jummuites not in the valley. There were stigmatised coinages common at mass level consumption, experienced by both the communities at the respective places. However, power elite had joys of both the places.
After 60s, there was a boom in fruit industry, tourism, and handicrafts, which fetched market, alongside forest wealth. It made a new rich class that saw homes and adventures beyond Jammu. The neo rich class would have houses and businesses in all the big cities of the country, even spending of wintry months in Europe by houseboat. Men working in tourism and hotels of Europe became quite common. And before the eruption of militancy, Kashmir had produced well stretched upper middle class and professionals that for wintry months could afford to have second house in the certain localities of Jammu. It was an outcome of affluence in the valley.
At the close of the previous century, despite political upheaval and militancy in the valley, the process of globalization had easily been compressing time and space. The significance of Durbar move had emerged only a sojourning of a selective class. Jammu underwent structural transformation after displacement of Kashmiri Pandits in huge numbers, who found their settlements in the periphery of Jammu city. It fetched market and co-mingling at societal level, once the dust of mutual suspicions of decades settled down.
Durbar move stands for as metaphor for class distinction and negligence of masses. It also manifests as domination of monarchy and power of political elite. If it goes, it would augur well for exchequer and wash the stains of dominance. The heritage does not have good public memory other than nostalgia of power elite. It would save state government an annual expenditure of at least 200 crores along with their time, and no hassle of displacements for the common people. Co-mingling of masses is not an organic revolution. It has negative ramification if it is imposed by a dominant power elite. It is a blending of traditions that happens when masses live together. It comes from bottom up in a holistic mode. It happens only when agencies and structures interact for a common good and for a common future. In Kashmir, it has happened in the structuration of Nund Reshi and Lal Ded traditions, and since then it has remained a subdued tradition under the domination of monarchies.
Since, Kashmir has history of direct subjugation and political mystification; it has made us a seductive society, demeaning our culture and believing in past glorification or past victimization. Kashmir has to come out from this seductive slumber of selective narratives. The youth has to be a skilled workforce, giving dignity to its language and culture. In both the regions, we have talented boys and girls, educative and accommodative in any social locale. They need a mind-set oriented to the future rather than the past. Political leadership has to encourage it.
The author is Professor Emeritus in Sociology at Banaras Hindu University
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.