Monarchs of  Democracy

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Arshid Malik

arshid-malik“Where is Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, when his people need him the most?” I quizzed one of my friends while we were discussing the political scenario in the State. “He is in Lal Chowk,” pat came the reply. “What? Cut it out, man. I am asking for real, where is the CM?”, I re-interrogated and was amazed to know that the Chief Minister was actually in Lal Chowk taking stock of ongoing works and all. My amazement was propounded upon a picture of Mufti Mohammad Syeed in Lal Chowk date stamped only an hour and a half back, which my friend dished off his phone as if flashing his passport to a visa clerk at an international airport. The man was there for real.

Well, that is for the intrigue of drama which constitutes impractical discussions amongst morons like me, but when it actually comes to facts, I wonder where the Chief Minister of the state really is, while his people are reeling under distress? He is not someone we hope to cross the sight of while driving for work or shopping at the local departmental store. Well, he is the Chief Minister and for a person of his stature his presence must be felt by way of actions that correspond to the welfare of people and that is just what is missing. Frankly speaking, my expectations had risen high when Mufti Mohammad Syeed took oath as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, a fact which was made obvious by some of my previous writings published in this very news weekly a few weeks ago. The rise in expectations came in the wake of the lethargic governance of the previous regime and the subsequent need for some “fire power”. By joining up with the BJP, I wondered into believing that Mufti Syeed was exacting some deals that would benefit the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. But I guess I was wrong. I had to be wrong for my enthusiasm was based on solely fuelled by disenchantment. And I am not sure, for sure, whether to rejoice over my extracted euphoria or weep over the actuality of the matter. It hardly matters, I figure (now).

Corruption free administration, good roads, uninterrupted water and power supply, a brand new job policy, relief and rehab for the flood affected and all circumnavigated into a golden aura that lifted the present Chief Minister into media glitz. Well, for all practical purposes, people working for the government are taking bribes openly which means there has been no letup in corruption, the roads are riddled with potholes that could eat you alive, drinking water is too scarce with almost every locality in Srinagar “up-in-arms” about its acute shortage, power woes are no better and the flood-affected people of Kashmir are still counting the money that the previous regime managed to endow upon them before its immediate exit. So, one is forced to ask, was all that table talk? Kashmir is yet again jinxed, a fact demonstrated by a quizzical indicator wherein we dispose more faith on the head of the Met Department than our Chief Minister. For arguments sake we could also plead that the current government has been in place for only a few months and how can it afford to set everything right in such a brief period. I get that from a lot of political loudmouths. But the government could have at least initiated steps to affirm its presence or to do the least, start work on what it called its PROGRAM. Mufti Mohammad Syeed is talking about smart cities and Kashmir heritage while the hapless people are living on the edge worrying their wits off about the weather forecasts for the coming week. I guess we are reading the same chapter over and over again, at least such is the feeling.

Mufti-Sayeed-along-with-Altaf-Bukhari-in-Press-Enclave-SrinagarMy affirmation (on snooze mode for that past couple of months) now and always has been that we should expect the least from the “government”. What we do is that we fight, fight against the odds, the brevities, the extremities, the failures (our own and that of those who happen to rule us), the ferocities of nature and all that comes our way. But isn’t that something we have been doing for, what seems like ages, now. We have been brave all along. We lost our beloved to relentless bullets down the line; we found our way in the darkness; we stumbled, fell and rose again; we saved each other when the floods wreaked havoc on us. We are soldiers of the soil and we have fought unseen and unknown battles of which our Chief Minister doesn’t have the slightest inkling of. We are a people who have been under autocratic rule garbed or rather garbled up as democracy all along. Our rulers have either been too despotic or too dismissive. We have tolerated the torture of being treated as second class in our own state all along and we have been silent about it at times and sometimes we erupt like volcanoes. That is who we are and that is who our rulers are and have been.

Nothing has changed. Expect for the fact that we have turned upon ourselves. We have started hurting each other. We have turned intrinsically malevolent and that is a very, very sad truth about us as a people. While we all claim our belief in the Greatness of our God, we have distanced ourselves from the factuality of that very state of mind and being. We are so fictitious in the manners we practice and so-very frivolous in the manners we preach. An example of our “false claims” falls flat on the face when we deliberate upon the recent floods from which most of us are yet to recover. It was a live demonstration of nature, the Supreme Power, when we suffered immense loses in terms of property and fortune and there was a minuscule loss of life. We were being shown the path.

We Kashmiris stand immersed in vanities. We nurture the zenith of existence in the erection of luxurious and palatial houses which are in all actuality at the mercy of the wind, water and fire – the slightest ferocity of these elements and we have nothing. The utter destruction of property and a minimal damage to life during the September 2014 floods bespoke upon us that we must mend our ways and stop playing with nature – it was the grand package in terms of lessons. For what do we take with us when we are buried deep under the soil, a few yards of cloth and that is all? Yet, after one of the strongest messages delivered to us we reached out to dig out our treasures again; we chose betrayal, deceit and cunningness again. And thus the slightest trickle – an SMS of sorts – from the skies sends us hunting for shelters where nature’s wrath would not reach us and we choose to solemnly “amnesify” the non-existence of any such place. How foolish can we be and how silly can we act? I wonder? And maybe that is why we are blessed with self-obsessed rulers who are the monarchs of modern democracy.

Politics, I must assert, is only an aspect of our lives and that it is for sure. We cannot weave a world based on politics alone. We, as the people matter and it has been demonstrated time and time again the world over that politics is not exactly about the welfare of the people but about the pleasures of the political elite. There is suffering all over the world and only those corners relish some relief where people care about each other, respect nature, are aware and knitted together. We must realize that while we are subjects of the state, we are believers, dreamers, artists, artisans, designers, litterateurs and what not. While we are part of the state we are also part of a communion, a world full of dreams and dream catchers. We are a living lot, striving to exist and sustain on our own at our own personal ends and politics I guess has very little to do with that. So let us depart from petty political pedagogues who preach ideation of wellness and practice none; let us leave the rhetoric to itself and start afresh as a population which believes in itself and its strengths, lest the doors of mental asylums are open for all or there is always politics.

As for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, his dramatic appearance and dogmatic disappearance is concerned, I think we, people, are on the same leaf.

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