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16th September '2007
Kashmir’s Intelligentsia
 

Intelligentsia is defined as educated and intellectual elite in a society. An intellectual is a person who uses his brain creatively. Persons who constitute the intelligentsia come from various sections of the society. They are teachers, lawyers, judges, doctors, engineers, journalists, writers, poets, philosophers, and sometimes even bureaucrats. In the developed countries the cream of intelligentsia usually becomes the rulers and rises to the highest positions in the society. However, in our case it is the reverse, thanks to the particular brand of democracy or rather “mobocracy” which has been bequeathed to us by the western colonisers. Political guidance to the rulers in the west is given by various think tanks which exist in almost all universities. In our case the most intelligent, upright and bright people totally shun politics because of the fact that the political system is controlled by all sorts of mafias. The brilliant people try to get multi-national jobs and even take flight to greener pastures abroad. Kashmiris are reputed to be very intelligent people. Some of the top brains have come from Kashmir. The parents of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal were originally of Kashmiri descent. In the present context some of the top professionals in various fields abroad are Kashmiris. Average Kashmiri has a sharp intellect and is well versed with world affairs. However, for sometime past our entire intelligentsia seems to have been paralysed or has become indifferent to day to day happenings especially even in regard to non-political issues. We have been talking too much about politics. In fact, due to confusing goals and dozens of road maps common Kashmiri is at a loss to know the right path forward. He has lost interest in all political activities and has at the same time developed total apathy to non-political issues. Due to this confused situation, the intelligentsia seems to be fence sitting. They are watching everything that has been happening around them but are not reacting. Any student of history would get confused on studying the somersaults committed by the popular Kashmiri leadership right from 1931. The movement was started by the local intelligentsia for emancipating the down trodden Kashmiri Muslims. In the initial stages almost entire intellectual class among the Muslims was not only sympathetic but fully involved in the movement. But the erratic and selfish behaviour of the leadership weaned them away. The ones who resisted were either eliminated or exiled. With each major turn in the popular movement, the intelligentsia jumped in but were every time rebuffed by the so called leadership which has been totally self centred and egoist. In such a situation it is but natural for the intellectual class to develop total apathy to the genuine political process. This is especially so when the whole process is manipulated by outsiders to their own advantage. One develops a defeatist attitude and the leadership gets isolated from the intelligentsia. But the most alarming situation is that the intelligentsia has developed apathy to even day to day issues which are beyond politics. The result of this insensitivity and unconcern has been deterioration of our environment, social values, civic services, education, health care, and many other facets of the society. Dishonesty, corruption, falsehood, and brutal violence do not evoke any sharp feelings. These ills are taken in one’s stride as a part of daily life. Corruption at all levels is taken for granted. It does not affect any one’s conscience at all. In fact people demand bribes in a brazen and shameful manner. In every sphere of society both in private as well as state sector it is taken to be a part of the system. In engineering departments there is a fixed percentage right from the junior engineer to the chief engineer and even beyond. Doctors have no compunction in receiving kick backs from pharmaceutical companies and keeping racketeer relationships with diagnostic clinics. The oath of Hippocrates has been given a go by! The corruption in bureaucracy and police at different levels is not frowned upon at all. It is the normal working mantra. Absence of it becomes abnormal. Dishonesty is part of daily life, be it in paying taxes, selling sub-standard goods, or rendering any other civic and public services. Immorality is taken as an important ingredient of the “modern” way of life. People have become so used to falsehood that it is impossible to ascertain the absolute truth. Brutalisation of the whole society has reached such proportions that even gruesome violence does not move people. In spite of horrendous violent crimes life goes on. On one side there is mourning for violent death and destruction while as on the other hand there is excessive celebration and gaiety in the very neighbourhood without any remorse or feeling of sadness. More than a hundred thousand people, almost an entire generation has been wiped out but it has not made any difference to the people. They have been hardened and have become cold and unemotional. Many times there is a generalised explanation for this strange attitude. The “uncertainty” of the political situation. This may be true as far as political activities are concerned. However, as regards issues unconnected with politics, this is only an excuse to avoid action and responsibility. There is no uncertainty in speaking out the truth and then standing by it regardless of the consequences. The first role of the intelligentsia should have been to motivate people to speak out the truth and learn to stand by it regardless of the consequences. For that our intelligentsia has to come out of the cocoon in which it has withdrawn during last two decades or so. The intelligentsia is in a protective shell which is because of our historical legacy of centuries of suppression. A typical human survival instinct born out of external fear and threat. We discuss, we debate, we criticise, and fully understand what is wrong with our society but when it comes to doing something practically on ground, we hesitate and feel helpless. We have the least consideration of time. Punctuality is not a virtue with us. However, when it comes to something we are interested in, we are the most impatient people on this planet. We fail to resist both individually as well as collectively any wrong being perpetrated on us or our fellow human beings. There are spontaneous protests, sometimes massive ones but there is no persistence. Even if we persist, we do it covertly by harbouring a grouse and resentment and not overtly by speaking out the truth fearlessly. If only each one of us could take a stand for all that is right and shun the wrong in whatever position we are in, there would be a change. Let us take our fast deteriorating environment. A typical example is the dying Dal Lake. If only the local population could be made aware about the significance of Dal and motivated by the intelligentsia for its conservation, there would be hope. Otherwise, it is a hopeless case and we may see this natural heritage vanishing sooner than later. Same applies to all other things which are beyond politics. Important aspects of our daily life. We do not take a stand because it may be inconvenient to do so in the short term. We have to change this mindset of ours. Every revolution starts in the mind. There is no better way to do that than to have a sensitive, dynamic, and a persistent intelligentsia. Intelligentsia of the highest calibre without being proactive and potent is as good as having no intelligentsia at all. The question is how to sensitise and activate the paralysed intelligentsia with a frozen conscience? Seminars with reading of papers will not activate it. Facing the reality head on, interacting with the common people, and continuously debating the situation within itself without any inhibitions will defreeze and activate it. Somewhere a small beginning has been made. The small step has to become a leap and it has to percolate in the whole society. That alone can lead to the ultimate salvation we have been pinning for centuries!

 
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