Ghulam Mohammad Khan
Much of the Machiavellian politics of cunning, a menacingly frightful yet romantically charged up dissonant and militant enthusiasm for a remote obfuscated end, a manifestly unpreventable vicious circle of pain and agony, death and a permanent psychological morass, and a contesting theatrics of verbal galimatias on diverse news channels have been witnessed with regard to the ever escalating Kashmir Conflict. And, all this is happening unavoidably and pointlessly in a typically unmethodical system where, in the memorable words of Bertrand Russell ‘many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.’
In politics, particularly in the Indian context, politicians squeeze their power out of the not-so-completely-annihilable credulity of the majority. It is only long after this collective credulity has catapulted the politicians to a position of absolute power that the people (not all though) come to realize the enormity of their credulity and the delusory clairvoyant fantasies of their heroes. Kiran Bedi once rightly observed while reacting to the highly abominable comments of Trinamool MP Tapas Pal threatening rape of political opponents, “We the voters elect misogynists! Who are we blaming? Indian electorate will still take decades before they become discerning.”
Once elected, they not only neglect the people or consign to oblivion their own incredibly prodigious promises made during election campaigns but, unfortunately, with absolute divisive tactics feed on the credulity of their electorate, using their diverse existential realities – region, religion, caste, community, home and history – to establish their unscrupulous power. Elections, therefore, to use the famed words of the Sage of Baltimore H.L. Mencken, a “sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” And, had voting ‘changed anything, they would have made it illegal.’
The credulous electorate is both directly and indirectly responsible for the present fearful regularity of incidents involving deadly communal violence and ‘culture wars’, pushing India to a rapid degeneration by allowing their territorial differences and cultural diversities to be used for depraved, divisive political ends. In such a radical political atmosphere, where all processes of thought and discursive formations are directly and indirectly monitored by an institution set up by few politicians, voices of dissent and rationality can be easily asphyxiated. A prominently defining feature of a radical politics is its indifference and non acknowledgement of dissent and rationality for, a radical politics is inherently irrational. In our republic of unreason the brutal ukases (intended to enforce a general atmosphere of capitulation among masses) of an absolutist politics, now supported by an equally sentimental and radically nationalist majority, could never have allowed the voices of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi to change the collective public approach to politics.
Did we ever see any politician from our present government indulging in a ‘divisive vituperation’ (infamously known for this now) with the senior progressive journalist Gauri Lankesh to justify his/her political stand? No, because radical politics simply can’t stand to the test of rationality. How sprawling this branch shall grow, nobody is certain about the proportions but the destruction it can bring about is quite evident. Better it would be for the politicians to learn from their own historical disservice and its consequences and falsify their approach whereby they attempt to think and rise above the present degenerating divisive political culture.
Deeply steeped in similar radical and unrelenting political morass, Kashmir is already passing through a historic socio-political, economic and educational regression. Caught between two extremes (rising radical youth/militant belligerence and the ineffective state political management), majority of Kashmiris live embarrassed, oppressed and irrevocably confused. The strategically-so-rickety militant aggression and the flimsy political initiatives have only worsened the already fragile living conditions. Every morning you wake up to a worrying silence, an uncertainty, curfew or a crackdown, a dormant yet silently gnawing dread of a young unequipped militant or two gunned down in an encounter, a fear of day-long restrictions, a consternation caused by sudden suspension of internet services, an anxiety of your parents upbraiding you for venturing into the streets almost always fuming with the volcanic eruptions of anger and azadi.
The recent inglorious split in the alliance, widely known as ‘unholy’ where two ideologically antithetical parties shamelessly came together only to deceive the people who voted them to power clearly reflects a deepening culture of power politics where worship of power precedes the welfare of people. It was absolutely an unholy alliance where one worshipped the other for power and the other betrayed the former for power. This culture, badly awaiting an overhaul, continues into the Governor Rule.
What is needed is a strong and sustainable strategy, ideological coherence, qualified leadership and an educated citizenry to resolve conflicts, and not the closing of markets, month-long hartaals, snapping of internet services, shamelessly suspending class-work in all educational institutions. It is time to look for other viable possibilities where both our time and lives are not wasted so cheaply.
The author is an Assistant Professor at the Government College of Engineering and Technology, Safapora, Ganderbal. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org