S M Jameel

Looking Inwards

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I was thinking what actually went wrong with us both at individual and collective levels so far as we haven't been able to build a viable healthy society based on equality, fraternity and justice. Of course, from time to time many attempts were made in the past to stem the rot by well-intentioned and well-meaning individuals and groups but 'unfortunately, each time all these voices soon fizzled out after initial gusto. This was either due to lack of consistency or the inherent sloth not uncommon to our ilk.

Let us call a spade a spade. Just a couple of generations back, Kashmiris were mostly a very poor people ridden with want, ignorance, illiteracy, disease and lack of economic opportunities. This was as a result of the centuries old excruciating feudal system under autocratic rule that knew nothing but mass exploitation with least concern for the subject- people's welfare. The autocratic rulers were simply interested in filling their coffers to expend on their regal frivolities and maintaining anti-people power structures.

With the turn of events in 1947, great expectations were generated among the masses that time had come for their abject miseries to end. A so-called democratic system was put in place to respond to the rising aspirations for a welfare state. Definitely, in the following years, some changes in administration were seen taking place. Due emphasis on mass- education, communications network,  enhancement in economic opportunities , promotion of language, arts ,crafts and culture were seemingly on the priority list of the new rulers. But soon the all powerful genie of corruption jumped on to the bandwagon of state administration with the result it lost the right direction with everything becoming helter-skelter. Schools, hospitals , municipal amenities ,rural connectivity etc etc did come up but at a price ; every sector of governance took a  severe biting from the scourge of corruption and its  offshoots like nepotism, opportunism, red-tapeism  and open killing of merit on a wide scale .

Like all other sectors, the jaundiced administration had a direct bearing on our trade practices as well; profiteering, black marketing, sale and promotion of spurious goods became the hallmark of our business activities. Price control by a responsible authority didn't go beyond its conception.

In this scenario, there has come up a class of people comprising hordes of  politicians ,bureaucrats, officials , traders and businessmen with the ill-gotten wealth , spread all over the State,  is doubtlessly  responsible for all the unrest prevailing in  our place.  In cities , towns and some rural areas , sprawling mansions, knightly houses , malls and shopping lines, landed properties, swollen bank- balances , positions of power and lavish lifestyles belonging to this growing  neo rich class of people is definitely a primary cause of public  resentment and general unrest . And they did it all before the wide public eye and in broad daylight. The traditional classes of peasants, live -stock breeders 'craftsmen and landless  labours, who form not less than 80% of our  population, have seen not much change in their living standards ever since the fall of autocracy.

With this background 1, it isn't outrightly wrong to say that all these years, we have made some progress in all spheres of life. But this progress has come sparsely and selectively and of course , at a price ; in its stride it has remained off the mark i .e. below standard  and it has  bred evils worse than what we  encountered  in the days of yore;  days when we were being trampled by our alien masters.

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