The time to contemplate

This was not our plight thirty years ago
I still remember how he summed up the situation by giving us the narrative of a grandfather with his teenager. I put it in retrospect.  “Baba: ye chuckha vuchan (out from his phiran he showed him the gun), yeh chhe azadi-baba”. [Representational Image]
I still remember how he summed up the situation by giving us the narrative of a grandfather with his teenager. I put it in retrospect. “Baba: ye chuckha vuchan (out from his phiran he showed him the gun), yeh chhe azadi-baba”. [Representational Image] File: Haseeb Ibn Hameed for Greater Kashmir

Spring has come to the valley with Ramzan and Ram-Navmi. It should augur well with flowers and buds, fasts and prayers for the new dawn bestowing prosperity and peace. Nevertheless, deep inside, our hearts are filled with despair and fear of uncertainties.

This was not our plight thirty years ago. Institutions were functional with trust and cherished goals. Morality was connected with materiality. Trust was inherent and transparency was evident.

The parents would not bother much about their children. For, their obedience and conduct with the family members were normal and predictable.

It abruptly got fractured with new political agenda linked with imagined nationalism rationalized through religion. The primary institutions and organic groups were forcefully rendered irrelevant with the emergence of new political religious leadership.

It brought with it unresolved contradictions of cultural grooming and dictums of religiosity. It separated the religion of masses from the politics of religion. Therefore, it was a break with the past.

Since 1990, it was more of politics in the apron of religiosity that not only harmed the faith but also broke the edifice of social and cultural capital. It had nothing to do with religion. It swallowed our spiritual core. Religion is for social transformation and for political morality.

History is witness to it that the rise of Mughals, Ottomans or even Arabs was when their ideas were innovative and religion provided it with moral strength to win over the people and places.

And in its fall in the nineteenth century, we witness when their ideas became moribund and religion was used to legitimize that stagnation. When the notion of good for the masses is lost and selective discretions and discriminations come in the political agenda, it gives birth to the moral bankruptcy and loss of collective consciousness.

I remember vividly, my doctor friend from Kashmir was doing his M.Ch in Banaras Hindu University. He would visit us invariably on weekends, when Kashmir was under the spell of its insurgency. We too were curious to know from him about the turn of events.

I still remember how he summed up the situation by giving us the narrative of a grandfather with his teenager. I put it in retrospect.  “Baba: ye chuckavuchan (out from his phiran he showed him the gun), yeh chhe azadi-baba”.

Bab with a pause pensively replied, “Na na gubrye, yeh chhue Malkinmoat-chaine tu maine khatre”. This sums the times and the wisdom of our unlettered sagacious older person, who never had travelled out from the valley.

We have seen many phases of Kashmir since 1990. The emergent participatory militancy, then chaos and manufactured uncertainties that not only displaced people from villages to towns and towns to cities, but also created a generation lag of short age spans with disintegration of families.

Until yesteryears, security of life and functionality of normal life were priorities and concerns. It has been brought to terms in substantial measure. However, that cultural capital has undergone rout.

With a little peace and control over the guns, the true nature of the emergent society has appeared to the surface. The decadence of society is exposed.  The loss of spiritual capital, emptiness of norms in the social institutions is writ-large at each simmer in the society.

Trust deficiency in interactions, menace of drugs in schools and  colleges, juvenile delinquency, rising crime, divorces and humiliations at public and in private spheres have crossed its climax, when we received heart-wrenching shocking news of ‘mother being killed by her son’.

This is unacceptable in a society that boasts of its faith and devotion. We had not so many Imams, preachers and mosques in the in the valley before 1990, but we had role model Imams, teachers, doctors and administrators, who were God fearing and rooted in our traditions to guide us well.

They were simple fellows, no ornamentations but profound in their influence and moral authority. This is loss of social cultural and spiritual capital, for which we are all responsible for it. Especially, our religious leaders, who mix religion with politics, pure with impure, sacred with profane in conduct and guidance for the agenda that materially benefit them.

The results are obvious. Increase in domestic violence against women, the frequent news about rape and murders, sexual crimes against children. These are indeed shadows of decadent society.

The common persons looked towards their leaders, who in the past sold illusions in mystified language of power and domination with distant imagined nationalism.

The organic social evolved over centuries despite subjugation of kingdoms and monarchies could not peter out it from our primary relationships, armed militancy and forced political agenda have done to it. The information technology with its digital world is beyond anybody’s control.  

Our social and religious persons, who in command are materially entrenched and most of them with unclean past, seem to have lost moral authority to bring religious sacred for betterment of our youth and children. Children get strayed in market malls, online availability, digital calculus and competitive aspirations.

In the absence of purchasing power and failure to score well in competitive examinations, even without drugs, still are affected by emotional disorders, anxiety, depression and negativity.

Since eventful 90s took the control of authority from homes, neighborhoods and social institutions to invisible sites from known to unknown agencies, there is no return to these basic institutions of primary groups.

This loss of visible authority first caused by imaginative distant political discourse and now electronic media and the information technology has generated individual alienation and collective anomie in the social and public institutions.

Therefore there is an urgent need for social reformation. Let state do its role but citizenry has also to be responsible in reinventing that moral order, which at present is missing.        

It can come from home. The parents have to be communicative with their children. They have to be role models, for most of the families are now nuclear families.

What influence the child derives, comes mostly from the relationship of his or her parents, as husband-wife. If it is affectionate and based on mutual respect, it will bestow their children with positivity and smiles.

The primary institutions are still important and face to face interactions create public sphere, where honesty and sincerity are needed more than before. Family is the most important unit and it should have moral connect with institutions of learning, if we want to accrue that social and spiritual capital.

It comes from normative socialisation. Self disciplined and self restrained   social and religious elites can provide us the guidance. Morality does not know binaries. Parents and teachers at formative stage can teach a child to set the boundaries and empower him or herself within its limits.

Its circumference would enhance with the growing age and capacity building entitlements. Unknown spheres in real or virtual sites should not be tested without having knowledge about it.

Even if, we are in social media or working on electronic gadget, we are visible to unknown, gazed and fed with artificial intelligence that allure us or connect us with its agenda, set by economic and substantially to market rationale that comes in the base of politics, religiosity or identity.

It is a fluid world order. The individual endurance with compassion and trusteeship shall reinvent the spiritual capital, which would provide moral anchor for the institutions and nation building.

The author is an emeritus professor in sociology at Banaras  Hindu University

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