Raouf Rasool

Public disinterest has a reason

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Every manufacturer, the simple business logic goes, constantly tries to come up with goods that are in great public demand. Personal likes and dislikes doesn’t matter much, because at the end of the day, every business is market-driven, and in order to be successful one has to cater to the requirements of the consumers. Nobody sells motorboats in a desert or cars at sea. Same is the case with almost every kind of service-provider. They have to tailor their services as per the needs and requirements of the consumers of these services. It is actually the needs and orientations of the clients that determine what kind of goods and services must be made available.

Irrespective of howsoever those in the business may brag about it, politics is about the people, their needs, requirements, urges and aspirations. It cannot operate in isolation of the people’s life situations. A successful political organizer will always try and fracture his or her politics with minute details of people’s life, something people can relate to and identify with. Any politician talking just rhetoric, devoid of real and identifiable vocabulary, does so at his/her peril, for he/she is then overlooking the basic nuance of politics – communication. A politician could lack anything, and yet be successful, but if communication is not there, then she/he too is just not there.

With this common sense wisdom laid down, it should not be difficult to understand why our current breed of politicians is so out of sync. Their main undoing is their inability to maintain rapport with the common people, their needs and requirements, urges and aspirations. Instead of breaking down their rhetoric in terms of something ‘their people’ understand and relate with, they tend to remain so etched up in emotionalism, that most of what they speak and do makes no or very little sense for the common people. This is perhaps why people simply turn away saying ‘Ah here is the same old stuff …’ when they are, day in and day out, treated to same redundant political speeches that brag much and mean very little. They are not interested in whose father or grandfather did what during their times, because they know that politics may be professed for the larger public good, but is actually acted upon on the basis of naked self-interest! They also know it that the shows enacted to brag on invisible “historic initiatives of visionary leadership” are meant to seek political mileage for those whose speeches actually mean nothing but a daily dose of verbal garbage for media columns and air-time.

No wonder that the common here people remain unconcerned, an unmoved by the rhetorical jugglery of the current breed of political jesters who are desperately trying to pull out pigeons and rabbits from their hats. The reason for their disinterest is not difficult to understand. Sigmund Freud has long back talked about people’s urge and need for looking for familiarity, and how easy it is for them to expect only the familiar outcomes even in case of entirely different situations and circumstances. Common people here are  obviously confronted with this unfortunate reality that they do not have much in hindsight they could really pin their hopes on as for as their “political leaders” are concerned – their origins and complexions notwithstanding.

Human cognitive behavior is such that it is, as if, resistant to looking beyond the relational schemas for processing of social (political) information. It has long been one of the grand ideas in psychology that people internalize their relationships with significant others, which influences their experience of subsequent relationships and their sense of self.  Unfortunately much of Kashmir politics completely neglects the impact of internally represented information — the way people here process it and attach meanings to it. An assessment of people’s relational schemas, their cognitive structures representing regularities in patterns of how they have seen and understood behavior of political leaders over a period of time and what they expect of it now, could be of great help to understand why there is a terrible disconnect between the leaders and the public.

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