Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is the Civil Society Really Civil?

In our world of trickeries and jungle law, disagreeing is just not possible. Tajamul responds to Syeda Afshana’s column, “learn to dissent” (Posted on the Blog on 29 September 2008)

Averting Costs of Disagreement

Tajamul Hussain

While pointing to the basketful of brinjals window-dressed in a vendor's shop Akbar asked Birbal, 'Do you see yonder brinjals; are not they a nasty vegetable?'
Birbal; 'zile-illahi! Of course they’re nothing but trash; even dogs do not eat them'.

After a month, the emperor, once again accompanied by Birbal, looked at the vegetables in the vendor's shop and quizzed, 'the cute looking brinjals make a tasty vegetable'.

Birbal: 'Aalam Panah! It is indeed so.'
Akbar: 'but last time you said, the vegetable was nothing but trash.'
Birbal: 'Aalam Panah! But then I'm Zile-illahi's servant and not that of brinjal's').

The fear of 'speaking up' or 'disagreeing' is over-determined by both the general nature of humans and the specific realities of the modern economy. Historically speaking it has been better for survival to 'flee' too often from threats that are not there than to not 'flee' the one time there is a significant risk. We have in effect inherited emotional and cognitive mechanism that motivates us to avoid perceived risks to our psychological and material well-being. Turning to the modern economy most of us depend on hierarchical organizations and their agents, i.e. BOSSES, to meet many of our basic needs for economic support and human relationships-- thus the fear of offending those above us. One way of getting in trouble with those above us is to 'speak up' or 'disagree' as they are always perceived as challenge of authority or critical of cherished programs.

Given the exaggerated and real reasons to fear offending the authorities, it is not surprising that people calm up when the signals seem unfavourable. Fear reflexes operate automatically --disagree and you will be hurt in the long run. Since the costs of disagreement (CoD) are high, some people never 'disagree', let alone criticize. The 'appeasement' being the best solution, these people exhibit a body language that shows that they are not to be treated some ones who 'speak up' or 'disagree' and are therefore the opponents. As children, they learnt not to 'disagree' with parents and in effect made all efforts to avert the pain that the 'disagreement' could inflict. In the school, teacher seldom graded high for one who put up a real argument and disagreed with him. As adults they knew: speak your mind and you lose your job; if you do not lose your job, you may lose face or a place on the list of fair haired, blue eyed promotables. You may remain attached 'down in the dumps' without much hope of getting posted back on a plum position. Aware of the persecution that Galileo suffered for not showing accommodating spirit, ‘sure winners’ ensure to swim with the stream. They learn not to say 'no' even if they know that it will not always be in their best interest to say 'no'. They follow the principle that their survival depends on their capacity to take on the hue that their masters are likely to assume at any given moment.

Bosses may not morally feel like making cases for spineless conformity or lemmings' obedience as pre-requisite for advancement of people (as for they themselves) to top plum positions. For their vested interests, however, they thump the tub to develop 'yes-men' in their subordinate ranks. Top brass lack awareness of what is really going around them. Either they are too busy listening to them themselves or listen to anyone else or are too involved in their own corporate, administrative and political presence to notice what is going on. They need to have their confidants to do the job. They usually contrive to have someone else do boasting for them. As dominants, top guys want to have attendant-flatterers who sing their praises and help raise their status from low to moderate by judiciously employing this device.

In effect, a social niche is provided to the flatters who 'yes' their masters into a false sense of security (and are ready to assert that man and not the Nature should decide how much time take rice takes to grow and ripen if their masters show signs of annoyance at the time table followed by Nature). As saying ‘Yes’ to everything always is the quality of sweetness and humility, masters like people for their quality of never–saying–no and for hanging around every time for keeping their masters from feeling unduly bothered by conscience or common sense.

As the system itself is the best clue to peer into, the ‘sure winners’ understand how things really work, who is 'hot' and who is 'not' and where the gang planks and backdoors are. Basking in the sunshine of their master's presence assures them of the reflected glory, authority and so on. Success, status, advancement and money are too valuable to be risked before those who make judgments. Rather than place all of these symbols in jeopardy, these men make compromises which they think are required to hang on. Perhaps because the servant is commonly regarded as something that can be sold, in the master-servant, superior-subordinate relationship, the self contempt tends to be an essential ingredient to the extent that people don't mind getting treated disrespectfully. As the virtues of a free person are not to be found in them, it is unfair to twit them with the absence of such virtues. Insults and humiliations meted out mould the characters of the people. For sheer survival and to be the 'sure winners' in a situation of loot, plunder as also anarchy toads learn to be crafty for making use of lie, selfishness and various forms of deceit and subterfuge.

In the wonderland of ‘sure winners’ the obsession for a 'walk over' is there to be had. For being 'beaters' people combine capabilities and skills with other things--savvy people sense, an understanding how the game is played and do things they plan on doing them and for no longer than they plan on doing them. As 'faster nicks' they learn that it is not what they do and say, but how they look along the way that is going to get them to the top. While pursuing goals set for themselves, their cost calculations/perceived values of tangibles and intangibles and their performance on job, and the achievements entitle them to rewards and gratitude and to be the 'hip shooters’ and the ‘success stories’. For they're the glad-handers, often the-old-school-I-am-glad-you-asked-me-that types, the quality of deserving well, excellence and worth is what they call 'merit'. In our world of paradoxes, where the law of jungle prevails, they're the ‘star performers’. Nothing is impossible for them. They do not require academic qualifications, brilliance to reach to the top. For them, sky is the limit.

They sacrifice and bear humiliation of sinking through the floors, and licking and throwing themselves at the feet of their masters like 'doormat'(placed near doors for wiping dirt from shoes). They do not mind helping them in household chores, arranging plumbers, gas cylinders, paying children’s school fees (and carrying them to school) and at times watering flower pots, serving tea and eatables to the guests and carrying their master’s brief cases, luggage and even opening their office, car doors if that means business.


Laura Kaufman said...

I think there are many people that try to be successful and blend with those who are. They are forever trying to overshadow the truly successful. These people are servants to their greed and have no real conscious. They have to be taught but never really learn the lessons of life and what the human heart and mind can do in a kind way and helping humanity. There are others who are open hearted that become very serious as they grow old, knowing what life has in store for them. They need to be protected and loved.

kuchroog said...

About large Kashmiri coin hoads, things have changed lately with discovery of an old mint in mint condition at Kashmir Samasth in in Pakistan amount of coinage is almost in tons and can be dated if people like you create a concerted effort, at present these are sold clandestinely