What does the non consumable Kashmiri roti tell about Kashmir?


Kashmir Observer’s investigation has revealed that our staple, the Kashmiri roti , is not safe for consumption. This is as alarming and dangerous as can be. The technical reasons pertain to the alarmingly high usage of baking soda in the making of the roti. Seen from this perspective, the issue is eminently amenable to resolution; the government can tighten up regulation and also take recourse to vigorous monitoring and application of the law, through fines and punishment. But the reasons for this malaise go deeper than mere technical misapplication and abuse of ingredients that go into the making of the roti.
Team KO has learnt that the high use of baking soda in rotis , while making the roti, appealing in terms of aesthetics and appeal, can cause serious ailments. Given that roti is our staple, this means that our entire population is at risk- the nature of which can mutate and morph into ugly forms-both symptomatically and in real terms. The question is why is this widespread abuse of an egregious nature taking place? Who is responsible? And can anything be done to stem the abuse?
It is easy but facile to blame only our kaandurs (bakers) for the abuse. Yes, they are the main culprits but are merely the face and symptom of the wider malaise that has gripped our society. Consider a factual. Right from the sabzee or mewa walla(vegetable or fruit vendor), to shopkeepers, to stores to midsized to large sized businesses to government, corruption has become pervasive and systemic in Kashmir. No one emerges clean from the stench of corruption. We are all, in one way or the other implicated in corruption and mal practice. The kaandur’s are no exception.  The question is why?
The reasons are both social and economic and perhaps even political. Socially, the pressure to gain wealth and through wealth status and prestige makes people take recourse to get rich schemes and behaviour. This usually means unethical, immoral and even illegal behaviour and practices even at the expense of individuals and society. The kaandurs abuse of ingredients and selling non consumable roti is a case in point. Given that the quest for prestige is legitimate and money is a necessity, society has kind of given implicit legitimacy to corrupt behaviour and practices. Now readers might wonder where does politics come into the picture?
The Kashmiri collective unconscious and emotional landscape appears to be defined by uncertainty. This uncertainty feeds into the Kashmiri imagination in way wherein people live for the moment or the next day, in the negative sense of the idea. We discount the present for the sake of the immediate future sacrificing long term future in the process. As such, we live in the present in a perverse manner. In the process, we have become self absorbed , self indulgent and selfish. The frame of reference for most Kashmiris , unfortunately, because of the political uncertainty in the state, has become their very own selves. This pans out in a negative manner and includes corrupt, unethical and illegal behaviours and practices.
These are broad and generic reasons but these account for specific malpractices like the Kandur roti case in contention.
Can anything be done about it? Can the condition- especially that of the Kashmiri roti be remedied?
But for remedial action has to emanate from society. One immediate solution that emerges is boycott of the roti till Kaandurs are remorseful and are compelled by economic and even social reasons to drop their bad practices. This could be complemented by stricter government regulation and a decree by fiat which enjoins the bakers to follow an ethical and legal regimen in preparing the roti. Fines, penalties and punishment could be the concomitant to stricter regulations.  However, as pointed out, the issue is embedded in a larger social, economic and political framework. While nothing can be realistically done about the politics of the state, the socio economic aspect can be remedied. Society as a whole must delegitimize corruption and render it taboo- all forms of corruption and economically, society must develop a sense of proportion about money – its nature and use.
In the final analysis, it is in combination where the cumulative efforts of society, individuals and government can curb menaces and bad practices that are predatory and harmful to society as a whole like the bad practices of our Kaandurs. Our society is suffering from and on a range of fronts. These threaten and pose great danger to us- individually and collectively. Let us begin the process of catharsis and let us begin with the Kaandurs and Kashmiri Tsot.

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