Don’t bombard us with meaningless figures
“Padshaham Drag Wouth, Ada Palaav Khiyew!” This is exactly how it is for the political bosses who treat us to hollow rhetoric — of whooping figures and romantic fantasies. Every now and then we are told what the magnanimity of New Delhi looks like – most part of the Prime Minister’s Rs 80,000 crore package announced for J&K “has already been expended” – although a parliamentary panel last week punctured holes in this claim when it pointed to the tardy pace of fund release under this package, and also went on to say that only a paltry sum has been released and expended thus far, and that too without much “visibility”. This is how the business of whopping figures actually goes in Kashmir.
By the way how many people in Kashmir know how many thousands make a crore? The moment one gets into the area of lakhs and above, say a crore, the ordinary people are completely out of touch, and no longer interested, because the figures have gone above their experience and hence are almost meaningless. So the figures no longer impress anyone here for the simple reason that the ordinary people’s hindsight has nothing of the sort which would lend any meaning to huge financial figures.
There can’t be a bigger challenge to an ordinary Kashmiri’s intellect, imagination and creativity than finding and locating the areas where these visibly mammoth sums have been or are being invested to bring about any betterment in the life situations of common people. Money has been and is no doubt being invested, but its benefits are confined to a limited coterie of people who plan, sanction and execute various projects, usually more on the paper and less on the ground! For a place which is continuously refusing to budge from being the second-most corrupt state, no amount of politically-loaded financial rhetoric is going to bring about any change unless and until something is done to stop the pilferage of public funds. This obviously needs a massive political will, which won’t come about unless the political leadership itself is willing to be corruption-free.
Those placed on other side of the political mainstream are no different when it comes to communicating with the people on a general basis without fracturing messages into specifics of people’s experiences. Their assertions too are just rhetoric and carry very little meaning. This simple difference can be explained by the fact that there is a huge difference between being informed of the death of people killed in each bout of public unrest here – which have unfortunately become a statistic – or the death of a close friend or loved one or a member of one’s family. In the latter it is the full emotional impact of the finality of tragedy that lends it meaning. But this simple logic is unfortunately not so easily understood by our political bosses, who, cutting across the board, have perfected the art of meaningless rhetoric so much so that common people are bombarded with it 24×7 and 365 days a year.
A classic example of the failure to communicate because the leader has gone completely outside the experience of the people is the attempt by a ‘preacher’ to indicate to the ordinary, poor people the bankruptcy of their prevailing values. “Take my word for it – roads, schools and hospitals are just meaningless as long as you are not free, you don’t possess piety. If you are not free to decide your political fate, what will you do even if your children are educated, you own a well-to-do house and a car, have money in the bank and other luxuries of life – that just won’t bring you happiness.” The response without exception is: “Yeah. Let’s be the judge of that one – we will let you know after we get it all.”