STORY OF HERD-INSTINCT - PART II Winter migration to Jammu

It is done under the assumption that since others are doing it, it must be socially correct
Passenger and private vehicles stranded on way to Jammu. [representational Image]
Passenger and private vehicles stranded on way to Jammu. [representational Image] File/ GK

Partly, Kashmiris’ winter migration to hotter city of Jammu is due to their “improved socio-economic status” during one or two preceding decades that enabled them to have better facilities of living, residing, and education of their children outside the vale.

In that sense, can we compare Kashmiris’ seasonal migration to avian migration of birds, who in order to find better ecological conditions and habitat for feeding, breeding, and raising their young ones migrate to different conducive places for the purpose? Avian migration is a natural phenomenon to look for better breeding conditions when they become harshly difficult at home for migratory birds.

Admittedly, it is a fact that cold weather conditions during winter in Kashmir become aggravated by absence of long list of basic amenities of human life with no-electricity topping it.

Equally, it is also a reality that the migration of few well off Kashmiris outside the valley is driven more by escapism and materialism, easy life and non-serious attitude, absence of collective responsibility towards their homeland and community where majority of people get on quite well with their living in Kashmir during three phases of severest wintry conditions of chillai kalan, chillai khurd and chille bach.

The Kashmiris copy these well off who are trend-setters of many kinds of socially and morally wrong and inappropriate behaviours and actions. They imitate them under confused and ambiguous social conditions, without determining whether a particular trend is the proper mode of behaviour or action.

It is done under the assumption that since others are doing it, it must be socially correct. According to Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, it is called “pluralistic ignorance”. Since the others have set and promoted something as a social practice, it must be correct, these copiers assume and say.

In simple words, the proof of their behaviour or action being correct is the fact that others have been doing it, says Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. It is plainly social influence or social proof to which Kashmiris are easily and deeply susceptible.

But the question is, if others, even if in good numbers, jump into the fire, would the rest follow them? “No” is the logical reply. The disturbing truth is that many people don’t think very well, nor make use of their potential to think clearly and effectively, and do often foolish things if they are encouraged or given the opportunity to, says John Chaffee.

Homes cannot be locked up for a seasonal enjoyment regularly without striving and finding solution to the problem because of the lack of basic facilities at home, which is unfortunately and lamely expressed to be the cause behind winter locking up of their homes and shifting to Jammu till the “ghosts of winter” leave the valley.

For east or west, home is the best runs the adage. Even if hometown is in mess, residents shall have to work hard with honesty and fairness to bring it out of clutter to let posterity feel it a better place to live in. Escapism or blind migration, as one may call it, is no answer to the infrastructural problems at home.

The solution to the problem must come only by Kashmiris committing themselves to solve them; otherwise problems will persist. It cannot be made an excuse for winter change of residence leaving lakhs of fellow Kashmiris face alone the difficult weather in absence of good facilities. This is sheer selfishness at its peak on the part of the winter migrants.

It cannot be ignored that the people in other countries where we have far deeper and harsher snowfalls and inclement weather conditions during winters, do not undertake any such sojourns, or mis-adventurersous temporary migration to hotter places, in spite of the fact that they are far ahead in all strides of life, wealthier, much more educated and progressive minds than the Kashmiris.

No comparison with the people living in those cold countries. The cold adaptation trait seems to be fast fading away among winter migrant-Kashmiris.

If this unhealthy trend of leaving home and hearth behind, and living for considerable periods of time of cold weather in hotter areas of Jammu continues, then, the descendants of these seasonal migrants may, one day, find it too hard to live in cold weather conditions in Kashmir.

They will be lacking “climatic adaptation” as during hotter summers of Jammu, they are already back to their hometown, Kashmir. It will instill fear in them that may in itself hamper their visiting and living in the valley during winter.

It is a common knowledge that the chionophile persons, whether in Europe or elsewhere, love and enjoy cold weathers, snowfalls, rainfalls, at their home. They certainly take it as a blessing from God to have snow, rain and cold winds.

It is not a wrong assertion that residents of hotter places of India and foreigners crave for a trip to and live in Kashmir for its salubrious climate.

“Kashmir is one of the most beautiful countries on the earth and therefore other people have coveted it”, wrote Sir Cyril Tyndale Biscoe. “Experiences make Kashmir’s winter irresistible”.

If cold harsh winter weather is the justification for Kashmiris’ seasonal migration, then, in the same logic, Jammuites too face extremely harsh hot weather during summers.

But the million dollar question is: How many among Jammu Dogras and other non Muslims of Jammu have purchased properties in Srinagar or other towns of Kashmir valley for temporary or permanent residence during simmering hot weather of Jammu.

Honestly, the answer is: No one. What is the reason? Apparently, unlike that of Kashmiri-Muslims, it is that they are not given to “herd mentality”, easy life and escapism, hate for their typical topographical conditions.

They have adapted themselves to live in those tough natural topographical conditions. It is the lethargy, rather indolence factor, and not push/pull factor, and also growing dislike, wittingly or unwittingly, developed in them for winters, that causes in these Kashmiris their winter-migration to Jammu by acquiring properties there.

And, as that seems to be the situation, then, certainly it is quite distasteful and disgusting as no people on this planet hate a natural wintertime in their own country and escape from it like a nesh who is susceptible to cold.

It may be somewhat unacceptable for many when I say that one more plausible reason seems to be that the Jammuites are driven more by their sense of security of life, property and honour than Kashmiri Muslims.

Kashmiris are otherwise even totally ignorant of their history. History repeats itself; they don’t know and understand it. Yesteryears are there to guide the people’s actions and decisions.

Even during pre-5th August, 2019 period, as State-subject, Jammuites were not legally prohibited from buying immovable property in Kashmir, albeit non-State-subjects faced such legal incapacity and, as such, the latter could not buy immovable property in the State.

This should clear the earlier point why other hotter States of India which are flocked by some so-called elite-Kashmiris for winter-residence are not mentioned in the opening paragraph of this essay.

Notwithstanding winter-migration of some Kashmiris to hotter-Jammu and other parts of India, overwhelming of them stay back and right from their ancestors’ time are proudly and hereditarily adapted to living in cold climatic conditions of the valley.

They, like any other peoples of cold places of the world, think and believe that winter is one of the blessed seasons of nature which is a harbinger of many joyous, brighter and sunnier spring-summer days ahead. Kashmiri saying is: Vandeh chalih, shin galih, beyihe bahaar. In English its accurate equivalent is: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind? “, goes the famous quote of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Tailpiece: Notwithstanding what is discussed above, unavoidable necessity created as for example by study, job, business or health issues will justify temporary winter migration. But if it is simply for what is called “social proof”, where more and more people follow others as a matter of fashion or habit only, then it is different, it’s worrying, as future generations of Kashmiris will lose the string of adaptability in them.

Well that said, I may tell you that Harikrishan Koul [1934-2009] was a well known Kashmiri prose writer of 1960s-1980s. He has written a short story which highlights the silent pain of a Kashmiri woman who is taken by her son away from Kashir to Delhi with him.

It was Harikrishan Koul’s first short story, entitled, Taaph [sunshine], that he wrote in 1967. Iterate, the short story is about a Kashmiri woman who is taken by her son to Delhi to avoid rigors of harsh winter [Wande]. It is son’s great love and care for his mother that makes him to take her to Delhi with him during winter.

But the lady finds it impossible to adapt herself to a new place, a new environment, a new life and new people and insists she may be taken back to her home.

The sunshine [Taaph] of new place like Delhi does not suit her as her hometown memories haunt her mind regularly. Like Franz Kafka, Harikrishan Koul has touched upon the idea of realism in the Taaph.

But, do all Kashmiris who migrate during winter to outside places think or feel like the lady character in Taaph?

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.

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