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27th July '2013
Outsourcing Kashmir!

Kashmir has an abundance of outside workers especially in the manual labour field. According to some estimates the number of outside workers is close to a million now. We have workers both skilled and unskilled from Bihar, Jharkhand, Bengal, Assam, and Punjab. There are also some from Rajasthan, Orissa and some other states. These people apart from working as domestic help work in paddy fields, on construction sites and so on. They work as carpenters, plumbers, mechanics and even as bakers and sweet/pudding sellers at different shrines. In fact, a large number of outside Moulvis lead prayers in many mosques. In winter some of these outsiders especially Biharis work in harissa shops! Even Kashmir’s traditional cooks Wazas are employing Biharis as additional hands.

Historically, Kashmiris were never so lazy. In fact, they were the hardest working people and had to toil day and night during various foreign regimes. In spite of the sweat and blood they gave, they still had to live in penury. They were the hard working tillers and did not own the land. Most of their produce was usurped by the rulers and they were left with meagre rations enough only for their survival. The situation changed in 1947 after the revolutionary legislation of giving the land to the tiller was enacted. Kashmir is the only place in the sub-continent where this unique step was taken during the regime of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah which gave Kashmiri the land whose ownership he had been deprived of for centuries. It was no less than the Russian Revolution but a peaceful one.

This step changed the entire social milieu in Kashmir. Once the Kashmiri peasant got his land he started working with full zeal to earn his livelihood with honour and dignity. Sheikh Abdullah wanted Kashmir to be self-sufficient and took certain unpopular measures towards this direction. Unfortunately, all these measures came to a nought when he was dethroned and arrested in 1953. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who replaced him was given bags full of money by Delhi to bribe Kashmiris in every possible way. A deliberate and exhaustive campaign of character assassination was started and the notorious culture of subsidy was introduced making Kashmiris totally dependent on outside assistance. The story since then is the colossal rise of corruption in every facet of the society and complete dependence of Kashmiris in every aspect of economy and development.

After the dethroning of Sheikh Abdullah, the money did not start flowing only from Delhi but from Islamabad also! The two money streams have continued flowing since that time corrupting both the mainstream politicians on the Indian side and their opponents claiming to fight for a place of honour and dignity for the common Kashmiri. These streams have made corruption seep into the blood stream of a Kashmiri who would need dialysis to purify his blood! This easy money has also made him very lazy hating manual labour. In addition, the culture of government service was also introduced and the white collar job became the most sought after thing. Any government job at any level was taken to be a life time social security. Highly educated and technically trained people would prefer a government job at the lowest level rather than become a self-employed entrepreneur. It is a pity that we have almost a million educated unemployed but at the same time we have almost a million outsiders doing all sorts of jobs in Kashmir. The main reason being that there is no dignity of manual labour here!

Incidentally, the rulers here have themselves outsourced everything. Be it the power generation or even copying of the traditionally famous Kashmiri handicrafts now manufactured on a large scale in Amritsar. The word Kashmir has been misused with impunity all over the world. Apart from manual jobs, handicrafts and so on outsourced by general public, the government itself is leading everyone in outsourcing certain activities. In fact, the government has outsourced the maintenance of law and order supposed to be a state subject to central government. The Ministry of Home Affairs has the last word in everything concerned with the law and order and internal security. Similar is the case with the security forces who have unlimited and unquestionable powers for dealing with insurgency alleged to be sponsored from across the borders.

One often hears about the outsourcing of the Kashmir’s popular movement. Large number of political leaders and the common people emphatically plead for third party intervention in resolving Kashmir’s basic problem. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that the basic problem is their own and it is they who have to sort it out themselves. Recently, there has been loud thinking in some quarters about the Taliban coming to Kashmir after the Americans leave Afghanistan in 2014, to fight for its ultimate freedom. That would be the mother of all outsourcing and we may end up by taking back the valley to the mythological Satisar. We would need then a new Kashyap Reshi to kill the demon Jalobdhava and redeem the valley back to its inhabitants if there are any survivors!

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