Opportunity in difficulty

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Jammu and Kashmir is currently passing through a very difficult phase. And of course there are varied reasons for it. First, the violent conflict that has been raging here over the past 30 years now has once against entered an escalation stage. Second, India and Pakistan are yet again involved in verbal war mongering and their posturing against each-other is getting harder and harsher by the day. Third, general elections are due in India next year – a few months from now and the politics for vote elsewhere in the country has a direct bearing on the political rhetoric and well as situation turbulence in the valley. Fourth, there is no government in place here and the State is currently under direct Central rule through the Governor. Fifth, the Government’s administration has announced the elections to the Urban Local Bodies and panchayat in the state, and also resolved to go ahead with these polls despite some political parties including two major regional parties NC, and PDP having decided to boycott these elections. Sixth, there is some talk about certain new combinations forming a new government in the State, though in the wake of forthcoming elections the idea seems to have shelved, at least for now. Seventh, that the separatists and the militants have called for the boycott of elections and there are chances of some election related violence. In fact one can go on and on like this to list other factors which make the situation here a very difficult and complex one, particularly for the general public who are at the receiving end of everyone’s politics and the concomitant political stalemate.

But it is here in this difficulty there may be a whole universe of new opportunities. For realizing these prospects, all stakeholders including the principal political actors as well as people of the entire state will have to rid themselves of their conventional view of politics. Once they get over their prime illusion of looking at anything without its converse, they will understand that by shutting themselves off to the ‘other’ possibilities (say those lying in ‘out-of-box thinking) they are actually denying themselves a full fifty percent of what everything that is possible – the opportunities lying latent in the ‘other half’. This is why volumes have been philosophized about looking at everything as the indivisible partner of its converse — light and darkness, good and evil, life and death.

For more than 4000 years the Chinese have been familiar with the principle of ‘complimentarity’ in their philosophical life.  They believe from the ‘illimitable’ (nature, God) came the principle of creation which they called the Great Extreme and from the Great Extreme came the Two Principles of Dual Powers, Yang and Yin, out of which came everything else. Yang and Yin have been defined as positive and negative, light and darkness, male and female, or numerous other examples of opposites or converses. Atomic physicist Niels Bohr was a great advocate of ‘complimentarity’. He too pointed out that the appearance of contradictions was a signal that the experiment was on the right track: “there is not much hope if we have only one difficulty, but when we have two, we can match them off against each-other.”

So in a situation that is visibly very difficult, not everything is, after all, as hopeless and pessimistic as it appears to be. There certainly are opportunities just waiting to be grabbed. The question, however, is: are there people who see these opportunities and then latch on to them not for their partisan interests, but actually for turning them into big positives for the state and its people. Indeed herein lay the answers not only to the current spree of political stalemate but also to numerous other problems that define, and plague the politics in Jammu and Kashmir in varied manifestations. Be it the lack of good governance and development in the state or the divisive and competing narratives on regional disparities, communal polarization across regions, trust-deficit in State-Centre relations or people’s anger and alienation, or for that matter even the disputed nature of Kashmir as a festering wound in India-Pakistan relations, everything can be tackled creatively if only the major political actors are able to make best of the opportunities thrown up by this “difficult situation”.


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