Systemic rethink needed
If the situation on ground is any indicator, the government is visible nowhere. The situation would have been different and the government would have been visible if the administrative machinery would have been in place. But the unfortunate reality remains that the ‘administration’ is there, but its writ is not. Those comprising the administrative set-up from bottom to top are there just to receive fat pay packets by the end of each month, while their output in terms of their contribution to the peoples’ welfare is an absolute zero. This is perhaps also one of the reasons, if not the only or the major one, for the popular discontent here. Now see the irony: instead of looking at the situation as it exists and then dealing with it accordingly, the administrators seem over-busy in garnering cheap publicity.
Politics aside, majority of the people here are not happy with the way the state is running. General perception with vast majority is that the state runs on its own. Having seen everyone doing whatever pleases him or her, without anyone showing any sense of responsibility or belonging whatsoever to the place and the people, popular pessimism which has seemingly become a marked trait of general population, seems more than justified. Here a small group of unruly people can put brakes on the life of entire population, taunt and humiliate and even beat anyone at their will and yet nobody dares to raise a brow. A cop in uniform is the law unto himself and would do anything and everything that suits his interests and satisfies his ego, even if it means training a baton or a sleazy invective at the innocent people. A shopkeeper, a businessman, a clerk or any other official in government too is no less privileged. They don’t hesitate to do what benefits them at the cost of the state and its people.
Those placed higher up in social, administrative and political hierarchies are no different either. In a mad race to accumulate more and more material wealth and influence and power over others, everyone is, as if, pitted against everybody else. And obviously in such a situation no one cares or bothers about the collective good. It is everyone for himself or herself. The lack of accountability across board only complicates the situation much to everybody’s detriment.
Not a single day passes without protest demonstrations being held here and there, or at least at Srinagar’s Press Enclave. Going by the sheer number of such agitations as also the socio-economic identities of the people involved, it goes without saying that the numbers of those unhappy with the state and the system – the status quo - are swelling with each passing day. While the gravity of the situation demands that the causal factors of this growing public outrage are looked into and efforts made to neutralize unrest, it’s an irony that police and paramilitary forces have been tasked to temporarily douse the anger with bamboo batons, tear-smoke shells and even bullets. How long will such tactics, both for the government as well as those pitted against it, be helpful, if at all these are going to be of any help?
When Mehbooba Mufti, and before him Omar Abdullah took over as chief minister, they generated much hope among the people when they pledged ending corruption, bringing in transparency and evolving a healthy work culture. And more than anything, both promised help in facilitating resolution of the bigger political questions concerning the state. However, today both Mufti and Abdullah seem as helpless as any ordinary person walking the streets in Srinagar or elsewhere. They too share and openly express popular fears about New Delhi’s machinations vis-à-vis J&K’s special status, its people’s identities, their needs and aspirations. Current state of affairs, besides other things, is also indicative of the pessimism and helplessness of the common people. After all, if Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah are so helpless that even after being at the helm of affairs here for years together they too are at the receiving end of anti-national framing, where is the scope for common people to nurse hopes about the system owing them and taking care of their needs and urges, fears and anxieties?