Raouf Rasool

Once the ‘lid effect’ is gone…

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Human life, which those in the realm of the make-believe, developed world are so fond of taking for granted so much as to think that “everything one wants to happen will/must happen in the best of all possible worlds” is after all not as simple – at least not for the huge majority in the Third World. Complicating the matters is the myopic analyses and interpretation to disguise the widespread socio-cultural and politico-economic cleavages as the “clash of civilizations”. Obviously then, what follows is the “shock and awe”, for the ‘celebrated’ scholars have wittingly or unwittingly accepted the political elites’ vision of the best ‘possible world’ as one governed by the logic of deterrence – something whose aim, more than anything else, is to keep the economic super-engine of powerful war-machine running.

As for those reeling under the age-old structures of deprivation and violence; illiteracy, hunger, disease and death; for whom the misery and suffering is a shared experience, the horizon of choice dangerously narrows down to where they no longer choose. They (have to) live it. With all its physical, emotional and psychological burdens, what matters is the existence – nothing more, nothing less. Celebrate it as “human resilience” or call it the shrinking of options for existence, the crude and ugly realities of life (if and) when studied shatter many a myths that make our make-believe and best possible worlds, where people, like the frightened pigeons, prefer to shut their eyes and not see the cat, thinking they could simply wish away the unpleasant.

However, the study of the life of the people – for whom the “happiness is fleeting and sadness is forever”; who endure and live the violence with all its structural and pornographic dispositions – is a valiant attempt to deescalate and defuse the tension and reduce the miseries of the suffering masses. It is an effort to dilute and neutralize the alienation of the ugly (violence) from the general realm of human experience. What is “not-so-pleasant, ugly and horrifying” cannot just be wished away simply by pushing it into the oblivion by not-talking-about-it. Reality, howsoever crude it is, needs to be confronted for what it is and what it means not only to those who live it but for the entire humanity in general. Then only can the ways and means be devised to tackle and counter it.

Kashmir has been a sort of battle zone for nearly three decades now. Obviously like any other conflict elsewhere in the world, the conflict in Kashmir has had its toll on each and every sphere of life and activity. Unfortunately, even when violence has had a profound impact on every dimension of life in Kashmir, so far not many efforts have been dedicated to study and gauge this impact. Indeed when the increasing thrust is on a clichéd term called ‘peace’ – without actually anyone bothering to spell out how the same could be made into a reality on the ground, it has brought this place face to face with a threatening challenge which if not anticipated and addressed in advance, could lead towards a much bigger catastrophe.

For instance, it has been empirically proven that a huge chunk of Kashmir’s population is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and its various manifestations, which is a direct fallout of the unabated violence people have endured during the past couple-hand-half decades. Like the Cold War animosity between two super powers prevented numerous conflicts from escalating into full-blown wars, the ongoing conflict in Kashmir is also in a similar manner acting as a sort of lid, preventing the simmering mental and emotional ailments from surfacing. However, again as Cold War bipolarity resulted in a spurt in latent conflicts surfacing all over the globe, it is feared that once the continuous stress and perennially hyper-alerted mental state triggered by the continued violence ceases to be the stimuli, its ‘lid effect’ will be gone. What will be the condition of peoples’ mental and emotional health once the violence is no longer there to provide the stress their minds have got used to over the years can only be imagined. If measures are not taken before hand to gauge besides the physical impact, the emotional and mental costs the violence has exacted from the population, and then institutional mechanisms are put in place to deal with the crises, Kashmir is headed for a sure disaster. The escalating rates of suicides, increasing substance abuse and deviant behaviour among the young population are some of the symptoms that are indicative of a much bigger impending calamity.

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