Kashmir Killings and the normalcy of Abnormality: Kashmir’s ‘new normal’

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The bedrock or even foundational concept/principle of Corporate Finance is the time value of money (TVM). The essential thrust of TVM- also known as present discounted value- is that money available now  is worth more than the same amount in the future due This core principle of finance holds that any amount of money is worth more the sooner it is received. The implication is that money received now is better than money received latter. TVM is also related to investment and investment decisions, liquidity preference and investors’ risk- reward preferences and both the implied rate of return (RoR) and the real rate of return(RRoR). Readers might be perplexed and puzzled at our delineation of corporate finance concepts. They will wonder at the link between corporate finance, the Handwara killings and the overall glum and gloomy situation that obtains in Kashmir. We will lay the bewilderment at rest by asserting that a link exists between gratuitous loss of life in Kashmir and corporate finance theory.

The value of life in Kashmir is 2 lac Rupees. And the rulers of Kashmir weigh Kashmiri lives in the scale of money- inflation adjusted we would presume.  We have, for once, forsaken to begin our analysis with an objective account but have deliberately chosen to draw snide parallels –all in an attempt to underscore the cynicism, the lackadaisical and above all the trivialization of life and loss of life in Kashmir. Are our lives really so cheap and our blood akin to water that it can be sold and bought on the scales of money? The powers that be seem to think so.

This approach and attitude is as cynical and cavalier as can be.

However, the larger irony embedded in the killings that occur in Kashmir is the reaction of the public at large. If the same pattern of killings were to be repeated in “normal” societies, the reaction would be different: people would be traumatized and grief stricken but , nay, in Kashmir, people take these killings in a bit of a stride. Yes: there is grief but it is temporary with people reverting to more prosaic and pedestrian dimensions of life. This is not to imply here that people should wail and grieve publicly and be gloomy all the time. The point is larger. Kashmir and Kashmiris have become inured to killings and death. We have lost sense, sensibility and sensitivity to the conflict in and over Kashmir which has become, the structuring context of our emotional and even intellectual landscape. Critics will point out that our collective as well as individual reaction , in a way, is normal, in the sense of a psychological coping up mechanism to adverse, unpleasant and plain bad conditions and repeated stimuli. We will not quibble with the critics; they are right. But this is precisely where the problem lies.

We have become abnormal in terms of our reactions and responses to repeated negative stimuli. And abnormality has become normalized and normal in Kashmir. This is fraught with consequences and given that the resolution of the conflict in and over Kashmir is not in sight, it means that our abnormally normal psychological and emotional condition will endure and spill over to generations. It will, in plain words, be inter generational. This constitutes a travesty and even a tragedy of great proportions. Kashmiris need not  , to use a much abused term, a “healing touch” but a healing of a nature that cures us –our psyche, our spirit and our lives. The bandying of clichés like “good governance”, economic rehabilitation and revival and other related themes are not even crude surrogates of the healing we need. Yes: they could be part of a larger package but this package has to be embedded in the framework of a wider and broader conflict resolution paradigm that redounds to the benefit of all stakeholders. Yes: this is an idea that our newspapers repeatedly dwells on and highlights. The reason is as prosaic as it is complex: the miseries that have befallen on Kashmiris and Kashmir emanate from the conflict itself. So it would not be a non sequitur to state that if all our miseries stem from the conflict, they can only go away when the conflict is resolved. Any other reason, set of reasoning and argument is just specious.

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