Year 2016: More of the same for Kashmiris?

The year 2016 AD has dawned. As the world celebrated the end of 2015 and new hopes and aspirations were articulated for the New Year by people across the world, the mood in Kashmir was a contrast to the vibrant hopes for the New Year. This is not to say there was gloom and doom in Kashmir. No, there was not. However, the overall mood was sullen. There is, in Kashmir, grim resignation to realities that define Kashmir-bad economic conditions, poor opportunity structures for youth, political morass and yes, of course, the biting cold of the Chillai Kalaan. But all these seem mere corollaries to the deeper malaise and problem that explains the sullen resignation to the times and the foreboding thoughts about the new year being another year of/in Kashmir: the deep uncertainty that pervades the vale in terms of its politics and political future- an uncertainty that has over time become embedded in the Kashmiri psyche. 

This deep uncertainty has made the Kashmiri psyche weary and cynical. The result is that by and large we appear to have lost the ability to hope and aspire. Yes, we do hope and aspire but only over small things. Our sense of hope, ambition and aspiration is curtailed and limited. This has affected our sense of happiness and joy. In the words of a western friend of mine, Kashmiris do not exhibit a ‘joie de vivre’(Joie de Vivre is a French phrase which means the art or cheerful and happy enjoyment of life). The broad explanatory rubric for this is the deep political uncertainty that has Kashmir in its thrall. People here do not appear to see any point in thinking, planning long term, or savoring life. Whatever is is appears to be the motto of Kashmiris. Moments of happiness are fleeting. A sullenness and a certain bitterness defines us. This restricts and curtails our horizons-emotional, social, and economic. The effects spill over onto our socio-economic dynamics: people have become risk averse, staid in their world views and ideas, lack of inventiveness and innovativeness defines us; we work but only to survive not live. 

A major fallout of all this is that we do not seek contentment and happiness but gratification. The nature of this gratification is perverse. We seem to get perverse pleasure in demeaning ourselves, our ethos and culture. It is common these days to find people putting down fellow Kashmiris, attributing the worst to our fellow Kashmiris and looking for faults instead of the good and goodness. Cynicism and skepticism pervades our psyches. Optimism is not anymore our forte. Consider an example: pitch an idea to a friend, a spouse or a parent. Nine out of ten times, the response you will invariably get would be negative. Instead of encouragement, there will be discouragement if not downright rejection and condemnation of the idea. This has become structurally woven into our psyches and both collective conscious and unconsciousness. We have turned inward-psychologically and psychically.  Hence our sullen resignation to the New Year- an event seen as just another year by most of us.

All this cannot be healthy and salubrious.  We need to rediscover our joie de vivre, re-infuse spirit, dynamism, verve and joy into our lives. The question is: how can this be done? 

The answer lies in going deep into ourselves and then imparting balance and equilibrium into lives. The former, introspection, should be cathartic and lead to the expunging of negative emotions from our emotional universes. We must seek the good and goodness, look for it and appreciate it in God’s nature, fellow Kashmiris, fellow human beings and our surroundings. Once our mental and emotional outlooks are cleansed of negativity and full of goodness and positivity, the effect will be like magic. They will have a physical concomitant. The very people that we were cynical about, the very environment that we found distasteful will look good. We need to follow this cathartic emotional and intellectual cleansing by taking stock of our social, economic and cultural conditions and impart balance to these. We should shun extravagance, unhealthy competition, dekha dekhi , and create equilibrium in our individual, social selves and society. And last but not the least, we must reorient our spiritual selves towards Divine Unity. In combination, if we succeed in ridding ourselves of negativity, inculcating the ‘good’ in us, and looking for the good in others, imparting balance and equilibrium in our society and economy and top it all by a spiritual reorientation , we will all be transformed. We need this transformation for our selves, and owe it to prosperity. It is the only antidote to the deep political uncertainty or the ‘Kashmir Curse’ that has left a deep scar on our psyche-individual and collective. Challenging it is but it is surely worth a shot. In fact, it is an imperative. Let us then make a pledge at the dawn of the New Year and embark on a massive transformation –collective, individual and social: a transformation that with God’s help can hold redemptive potential.

Follow this link to join our WhatsApp group: Join Now

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.