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Not a single day passes without people protesting against the government, or some of its agencies for something or the other. In fact Srinagar’s Press Enclave has now turned into a permanent protesting venue thronged by the aggrieved people of all hues day-in and day-out to register their protests against the government. In the countryside protestors taking to streets and blocking them for vehicular traffic for hours together too is a common and almost daily occurrence. Indeed it is this continued tension that has added a new cliché – ‘confrontation’ - to the language here. And the interesting thing about this ‘confrontation’ is that there are people on both sides of the dividing line – those who want confrontation, and the ones who try and avoid confrontation. Both have their own motives – the have-nots want confrontation because they want to try and change the status quo as it is not in their interest. The haves have every reasonable reason to prolong the status quo because they do not want to loose what they have, and would do everything to retain their monopoly over the positions of power and wealth.

It is a sad reality that the fruits and benefits of the “world’s largest democracy” have remained confined to a miniscule minority of the rich and the powerful -- the haves. In this “welfare colonialism”, favours are traded by the powerful among themselves only, while the less privileged have to rely on and remain content with whatever little trickles down to them either by default or by way of public display of magnanimity by the haves. With every kind of corrupt practice in vogue, the ordinary mortals are told and expected to believe that their interests are duly taken care of by their ‘representatives’. Had it been so, then certainly instead of taking to streets or roads or coming all the way to Press Enclave for protests, people would go to their local representatives, the MLAs, for redressal of grievances. The fact that this does not happen is indicative of the larger rot that has come to plague the governance systems here.

What is really troublesome is that those sitting in power echelons have no idea or urgency to help anybody. The present impasse on so many issues -- the government employees who are in perpetual agitation mode, the challenges of providing jobs to jobless, the deficiency of electricity, improper healthcare, lack of portable drinking water and better roads, continues because those who can affect change have either no idea of how to bring it about, or they do not want to change anything at all.

Rather than meeting the issues and challenges head-on, it has become fashionable for the government to rely on a series of tired gambits in the form of “high-level” meetings, seminars, surveys, investigations  and what not… And then it self-righteously proclaims its determination for bold and prompt action, which in reality always comprise bumbling, procrastinating and worthless gestures. They say “blue-ribbon commissions always give birth to blue babies”. This is exactly what is happening here. Instead of facing up to the issues, and without acknowledging and appreciating the possible fallouts of narrowing down the avenues of democratic protests for the public, the authorities have perfected the art of use of force. “Law and order must be upheld before we get around to anything else.” With this selective interpretation of law and what they feel is order, the authorities here have long ceased to think or talk in terms of injustice, guilt, or the immorality of corruption, which are the primary reasons pushing people towards challenging the “law and order”.


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