Raouf Rasool

Beyond traditional stances

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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 their clientele. It is actually the needs and orientations of the clients that determine what kind of goods and services must be made available.

Howsoever those in the business may want to 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. Therefore, 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/she too is just not there.

With this basic wisdom laid down, it should not be difficult to understand why current breed of Kashmir politicians is so out of sync with the realities on the ground. 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 the verbal jugglery of NC or Congress or for that matter that of the ruling coalition of PDP and BJP, because they know how pathetically bad each of these parties have been (read are) on the governance front. They are not even interested in the locus classicus of the separatist politics because they have seen it to be a saga of missed opportunities and absolute opportunism. What they are interested in is how this government is able to mitigate their problems and end their sufferings. They are interested in and they certainly deserve good, transparent and sensitive governance.

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 circumstance. 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 our politics, particularly in Kashmir, 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 New Delhi’s and successive state governments’ behaviour over a period of time and what they expect of them now, could be of great help to understand why there is a terrible disconnect between Delhi and Srinagar even when the former feels complacent about the relative calm having returned here for quite some time now, or why ordinary people (those who are not politically connected with any camps or individuals) are finding it difficult to relate with the local government and its institution. Both New Delhi and the local government here must understand that they have to do something to bridge this disconnect. And for this they will have to move beyond traditional speeches and stances, and instead embark on something that is in sync with the people’s needs and urges, their hopes and expectations.


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