THE Jinaza (funeral) preparations of a neighbour who died at a ripe age and a prolonged illness took a long time. Since it was expected that the elderly person would pass away any day, the funeral was not very sombre and people attending it while they were sad were not too grief stricken. In this ambiance, a friend of mine known for his witticisms and a wicked sense of humour said that after the day of Judgement when all people had been sent to paradise, -their sins having been accounted for and Gods munificence bestowed upon them, only one ethnic group was missing from paradise. This was the Kashmiris. Curious, some angels went back to hell to check. When they arrived near the hell hole which was reserved for Kashmiris, what they saw was a man at the top of the hole trying to clamber out of the hole. But this man was dragged and pulled down by others at other respective rungs of the hole. So nobody was moving and there was complete stasis.
The implication was clear: while other Kashmiris were in a similar bind, they would not want any other fellow Kashmiri to come out of the predicament even if it meant they remained in their respective miserable conditions.
My friend meant to illuminate a point about Kashmiris and the moment funeral was done, almost all present agreed with the implication and moral of the humorous anecdote.
Almost every culture and society has something denigratory to say about itself. Usually in the nature of a self stereotype embellished and garnished by stories and anecdotes, these self stereotypes are in the nature of half truths. That is, these are partially true. While the anecdote delineated in this analysis may be partially true but it has a searing resonance in contemporary Kashmir.
We Kashmiris have become so small minded that we will accept self torment if only some other Kashmiri suffers the same or even worse. We will accept an outsider- give him/her the moon but when it comes to fellow Kashmiris, we will ensure he/she is given a hard time. This has social, political, economic and cultural implications. Socially , it means that we have morphed into a low trust society. This, in turn, has economic implications- a low trust society is unproductive and the problem percolates to contracts, verification of these , partnerships (business) and other issues. Politically, this attitude means that collective action, if at all , takes place in Kashmir will always be short lived and ephemeral. The cultural implications are that our ethnic and cultural cohesion becomes dissipated.
This is not a picture or portrait of a healthy society and culture. It will axiomatically have long term implications and consequences that will be intergenerational. The silver lining is that people recognize the problem but alas do nothing about it. Our social, cultural cohesion and even economic development is at stake here. If nothing, it is the future state of our society and the condition of our future generations that should focus and concentrate our minds. We must introspect to undergo catharsis and cleanse ourselves of these maladies. The time to remedy these is now. Later will be too late!
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