In an overly politicized atmosphere during past couple of decades ordinary Kashmiris have been given to believe that they are the best . Without going into the specifics, the statement itself is finding increasing resonance both in public as well as private discourse. Beginning from the natural beauty of the place people usually end up doing a lot of self-sycophancy. ‘We are the best’ has become a sort of cliché. Even as doubting this assertion in its entirety would come at the peril of one’s own objectivity, however, certain reservations are certainly there to the generality of the standard statement. There are obviously very good, honest and sincere people around in Kashmir, but once it comes to defining the character of the collective, a society or the nation, the definition is drawn from the general behavioral trends of its people. It is exactly here that all the self-praise and adoration gets relegated to mere narcissism without any substantive evidence to prove what is being said about our collective behaviour.
Had it not been so, obviously then Kashmir would not have been what it is today. It would not have been topping the list of most corrupt states in Indian subcontinent without any fail for past many years. Its hill and dale wouldn’t have denuded the way it is. Dal Lake, Wullar and Manasbal lakes wouldn’t be on the verge of death; Jehlum wouldn’t have transformed into a massive sever as it’s become; forests wouldn’t have disappeared the way they have and are still continuing to. Kashmir’s hospitals wouldn’t have become like death chambers where people die painful death for want of medical attention and care they deserve. Land mafia would not have got a free hand to transform fertile agrarian land into concrete jungles. Transporters wouldn’t have turned roads and streets into death traps…
Can anyone actually cite a single government or semi-government or for that matter even a private agency which is not plagued with corruption, both moral and material here? We all may no doubt take pride in talking a great deal about the rule of law, but may one dare and ask if the agencies meant to uphold and implement the rule of law actually operate within the ambit of law; do they themselves abide by and obey laws? While all the shortcomings in our individual as well as collective behavior are hidden to none, yet we all have the cheek to praise ourselves as being the best. It is ridiculous! Indeed this is wherefrom springs all the evils that have become somewhat a characteristic feature of our popular culture. Culture, as many believe is not confined to Pheran or Kangri or Wazwan alone; culture is what people do, how they live their lives, eat, breathe and sleep. Honestly seen we are very bad in all these activities and yet we so falsely think and make others believe that we are the best. Sorry to say it we are not.
We have abandoned introspection and that is the main reason for our free fall. How many times do we discuss growing trends of drug abuse among our youth; how often do we discuss plight of those parents who because of the menace of dowry aren’t able to marry off their daughters; how often do we talk about corruption in the society and look down at those who indulge in such practices. There are hundreds of such questions which we don’t dare to look it and that is the tragedy of our times.