City of official neglect!

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“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard of their own interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantage.” This complex truth of politics couldn’t be put more simply and succinctly than this. All praises for Adam Smith for this powerful articulation, which has indeed placed the actual politics in front of a mirror to rejuvenate a thought Aristotle had shared few hundred years earlier. In “Politics” says Aristotle, “Everybody thinks chiefly of his own, hardly ever of the public interest”.

Smith unravels these simple truths of politics in his “The Wealth of Nations”, using finger nails of basic human instincts of reason, logic and common sense. It doesn’t require a Plato to decode and understand what politicians have done here; or they do; and would do. All that’s needed is a basic skill of reading through their ‘tricks’, and between the proverbial lines of their tricky verbose. What is meant by reading ‘between the lines’ is placing a political development within its context – within specific time and space, influences of all other factors including.

For long now people have seen various political groups, which are basically the main culprit in initiating and sustaining a conspiracy of systematic disenfranchisement of Srinagar City, lamenting the plight of its roads and streets, drains and parks, and of course its residents too. So what do the people of Srinagar make out of it? Should they resign their fate, and have faith, in this just-discovered ‘benevolence’ of the politicos, and forget about trying to square-up previous accounts? Well, let’s leave that to the personal choices of City residents – they are mature enough to read through these games. On our part, we can just help build a bit of ‘context’.

Now that the local body elections are over, it makes perfect political sense to talk of the Srinagar City’s troubles. The systemic and systematic neglect of the city began nearly two decades back when it was openly propagated that “those who don’t vote can’t claim benefits from government”. This sleazy idea was so brazenly shared even in public speeches that within no time it became a cliché for taunting and tormenting urban population so endlessly that the seeds of rural-urban divide sown much earlier got a perfect setting to germinate and sprout. Even today the city residents are reeling under resounding shocks of this anti-urban bias of successive dispensations that followed not only in political but also in the administrative corridors.

Shedding a few ‘crocodile tears’ for the battered residents is, after all, not a bad idea when the ball is finally in their court, and votes in their hands! So each time elections would be round the corner, all of a sudden politicians would start talking about the issues and concerns of Srinagar, and the miserable plight of its residents. Interestingly all those people whose hands still smell raw of city’s flesh, would also bemoan its difficulties.

With the completion of Municipal elections, and those vested with the responsibility of running the city affairs comfortably-seated in their chairs, let’s see if they are able to reverse and undo some of the troubles that have been inflicted on this historic city. Should they do it, their mandate stands justified. Otherwise, they will be yet another addition to the long list of political mavericks who have pushed this city on the brink of disaster on every single count of urban planning, development and management too, besides of course being an additional drain on the state’s resources.

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