Most of the marriages in Kashmir till recently were arranged by the “Middlemen” or the “Middle women” known in Kashmiri as “Manzimyore”. This is a very old institution in which both men and women took part in bringing together families for marriage. These people would be surveying all the localities and would prepare lists of eligible boys and girls for marriage. They would collect bio-data of these persons, sometimes with photographs and detailed family background. Then they would visit various families and present a list of eligible matches for their sons or daughters. The process would go on till the two families finally agreed for a suitable match. Then there would be exchange of gifts and so on till the marriage finally took place.
These middle people would be handsomely rewarded. With the coming of the modern IT savvy world, the institution is sort of going into oblivion. We have now dozens of websites and even match making agencies operating everywhere. In addition, many a times the well to do families use friends and relations for match making.In fact, now instead of photographs there are arranged meetings in posh hotels between the boy and the girl before the marriages are fixed and solemnised.
Similarly, we have had the property “Brokers” called the “Drawl”, who would be surveying available lands and houses for sale and would then fix various property deals against a commission. They continue to thrive but now we have a number of agencies dealing in properties including land sales. There are companies setting up housing colonies. However, the “Brokers” continue to be there. They now fix everything from sale deed to transfer through various government departments against a fee. In normal course one may take months or even years to get all legal formalities completed through various government agencies. However, these people have a network of connections and can get things done in a matter of days or weeks by greasing the palms of all concerned.
The most common thing among all these service providers has been their tremendous ability to lie. They tell lies so neatly that one can never suspect that they are lying. One only realises that after seeing the ground situation which is really frustrating but one is helpless and has to go along. Direct approach is more difficult especially in case of properties and land deals. It is more difficult than climbing the Everest as the entire system is networked with the service providers for their share of the booty.
Well, these “Middlemen” and “Brokers” have been the traditional part of the system but for the specific tasks of match making and property deals. However, now these tribes have infiltrated each and every part of the system both on the government side and in the civil society. They have now become what may be called the “Unethical Service Providers”!
They provide their services in total disregard of ethics, morality, and honesty. Integrity and honesty have ceased to be a part of any deals in the present set up. The material greed has surpassed everything. The most humanitarian services like the healthcare have been totally commercialised. Unethical nexuses have developed between various service providers with the sole consideration of making money.
The worst tragedy is that giving and taking bribes is considered absolutely normal. Nobody has any pangs of conscience in indulging in it. Of course, the givers feel they have no choice as without greasing the palms of officials and the rulers including the ministers, nothing gets done. One needs tremendous stamina, energy, and patience to get things done in normal routine and it takes not months but sometimes years! Quite often the papers get misplacedat some stage and one has to start from the beginning again.
On the political side there are high profile “Middlemen” and “Fixers” who can negotiate and fix any deals with the concerned ministers and politicians. These services include nominations for assembly seats, getting of ministerial berths, and important public offices. There is always lobbying through “fixers” needed to procure these offices. Sometimes the “fixers” fail to get the promised services and have to return the fees paid inadvanceand refusal to do that may end in violence as happened sometime back.
Securing of government jobs even at the lowest level of a daily wager needs payment of “fees” to the “fixers” who are connected with the network right to the top. Transfers in all departments at the highest and the middle level especially securing of plum postings are services available through the “fixers”. These are also done often on the basis of political considerations. Even after demitting office, quite a few administrative officers even at the highest level get into the political stream of the parties which they have obliged during their tenure.
Will we ever get rid of these “Unethical Service Providers”? There seems no hope! It would need a change in our basic character. We are not ready for a sacrifice which needs patience, time and energy. We want things to be done straightway regardless of the price we have to pay apart from money in morality and ethics. We are destined to live in this rule of the “Middlemen” and the “Brokers” in the age which Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali also known as the Alum Dar-i-Kashmir, called the “Vander Raj” (the rule of the Langurs).