Politics of Ad Hocism

  • Nyla Ali Khan
  • Publish Date: Jul 25 2017 9:52PM
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  • Updated Date: Jul 25 2017 9:52PM
Politics of Ad Hocism

Freedom, Creativity, and Action Civics will Change Society Faster Than the Current Breed of Politicians in J&K

 

Getting to know one’s ideology is a work in progress. Ironically, it was in the United States – a country that prides itself on the power of its military-industrial complex – that I cultivated the drive to study the South Asian politico-cultural matrix, particularly the intractable Kashmir conflict. My commitment to pedagogy and scholarship has been unflinching, and my faith in the critical focus that education can provide has been unrelenting. Whether people see eye-to-eye with my stated positions or question them, any one would be hard-pressed to deny that I have a firm political ideology and conviction. So, writing about the lack of ideological and political convictions in the current breed of mainstream politicians in Jammu and Kashmir didn’t require much research, because I have spent a lot of time and energy delving into the erosion of indigenous politics in the state in my earlier work. Writing on this theme enabled me to go back to my earlier work and realize that it was still relevant. I chose to build on my previous work for this article.

 How capable are mainstream politicians in J&K of bringing about much needed systemic and structural changes in conflict ridden, politically and socio-economically decrepit polities in South Asia, like J&K? Has the Government of India been assiduously working to engage young people in J&K in the processes of democracy, to acquire skills and knowledge that would enable them to effectively participate in decision-making and political processes, to recognize the importance of standing up and being counted as well as the value of the vote? Is there a recognition of action civics in the higher echelons of power at the federal and state levels when it comes to facilitating the growth of political processes in Kashmir?

J&K is a conscripted space that has been inscribed upon several times, yet the previous texts have been imperfectly erased and, therefore, remain partially visible. A history of unfulfilled pledges, broken promises, political deception, military oppression, illegal political detentions, a scathing human rights record, sterile political alliances, mass exodus, and New Delhi’s malignant interference have created a gangrenous body politic, which hasn’t even started to heal. The various political, religious, and cultural discourses written on the politico-cultural surface of the state may have created alternative epistemologies but without an epicenter.

On the one hand, lavish sartorial and epicurean preparations are annually made for August 15th, the day India was declared independent, on the other hand, there is a legitimately disgruntled segment of the populace which really hasn’t experienced the trickle down effect of India’s burgeoning economy or flourishing democracy. I have been hoping, for a long time, that political actors of various hues in the state do not inter the victims of military and police brutality to the catacombs of history in their ardent desire to ingratiate themselves with the puppeteers in New Delhi and Islamabad who are adept at manipulating marionette regional representatives. August 14th and August 15th are entrenched in world history as the days the then dominions of India and Pakistan gained independence and routed the British colonial master, but in Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) they remain days that reinforce the fragility of an ill-defined democracy.

As I’ve said at several forums, civil society and political institutions are closely interconnected. In order to create democracy, there must be a minimum of participation and adequate pluralism in a society. A consolidated democracy has to be open to diverse opinions; dissent and differences of opinion on policies is an important element of every democracy. This issue needs to be not addressed just in J & K but across South Asia as well.

As I’ve said elsewhere, the non-legislative reforms/ changes that we require are new efforts and new forums not just in J & K but in other parts of South Asia as well for the germination broad based coalition politics that transcends organizational divides, and give our citizenry the space and leeway to make important political decisions. Given the volatile situation in Kashmir, millenials or the Net Generation in the state are unable to employ effective strategies to successfully resolve issues that they are invested in; they lack access to their representatives/ legislators/ decision-makers in order to implement their recommendations; and they lack the space to reflect on their strategies, challenges, the processes of negotiation, dialogue, and accommodation required to reach some kind of fruition.

In the current situation, the local community is unable to exercise any clout and is unable to think constructively about structural change. Politics is an an abstract notion for the young people in our state, and not a concrete method to bring about long-term reforms, which younger generations could build on.

Unfortunately, the Government of India and its appendages have insidiously inserted themselves into political structures and organizations in the state since 1953, which is the reason that mainstream politicians no longer feel the need to establish their credibility through ideology, conviction, perseverance, and working for the well-being of their electorate. Instead, they have become complacent and rule with carte blanche, which is why electoral politics has been stigmatized.

As evidenced post-1989, mainstream politicians pay insufficient attention to the welfare of the populace, good governance, and rebuilding democratic institutions. While practicing the politics of ad hocism, politicians in J & K have been making the grave error of turning a blind eye to the vitriol of corruption and inefficiency in the administrative set-up and educational institutions. The translation of a political vision into reality requires diligence and hard work at the grass-roots level, rebuilding of ideological structures and mass movements, which would produce dynamic indigenous politics. The rhetoric employed by the current breed of mainstream politicians in the state becomes the authoritative discourse of officialdom that separates itself from the realm of the populace. It is a dogmatic discourse that has been used to assert its ascendancy among other ideological points of view.

Politicians in the state are no longer interested in reviving and reinvigorating civil society institutions that could initiate uncoerced collective action around shared interests, values, and purposes. Nor are they invested in working in collaboration with one another to focus on the rebuilding of a greatly polarized and fragmented social fabric to ensure the redress of inadequate political participation, insistence on accountability for human rights violations through transitional justice mechanisms, reconstruction of the infrastructure of the productive capacity of Kashmir, and resumption of access to basic social services.

In order to improve mainstream politics and the election process for the people of the J & K, particularly millennials or the Net Generation, to engage and encourage them to be informed and to vote, it is imperative to identify issues that are important to voters to inspire them to want to make a significant difference by voting and participating.

For those of us who have learned to respect the strident potency of the voice of the people, the unequivocal and pitiful assumption of mainstream politicians in J&K that power unilaterally flows from New Delhi, reeks of a reprehensibly unrepresentative character.

Ironically, mainstream politicians and separatists in J & K haven’t found niches in the upper echelons of decision-making bodies, political, religious, or social. New Delhi is letting them flail their arms and flex their muscles within carefully contained spaces, but, for all intents and purposes, they have no place within India and Pakistan’s bilateral talks. The significant process of nation building and the construction of Kashmiri nationalism isn’t being facilitated by either party. Kashmiri society needs to recognize the terror caused by such predatory discourses that swoop down on the vulnerable, devouring their ideological and experiential strengths. How long will those unfamiliar with the rich history and nuanced culture of Kashmir seek to describe the state of mind of traumatized Kashmiris? How long will those ignorant of the rich heritage of Kashmir seek to write narratives about the political future of Kashmir? A reconstruction of the political space in Kashmir is the need of the day.

Despite the political mobilization of Kashmiris during the upheaval in 1931 and the politically volcanic Quit Kashmir Movement of 1946, their reversion from a substantive public sphere to a brutalized sphere has been rather abrupt. The onslaught of despotism in 1931 unleashed by Maharajah Hari Singh and his platoons awoke Kashmiris from their apoplectic slumber, and induced them to rattle the confining bars of the monarchical cage. Remarkably, lay people in Kashmir, were initiated into political activism and heralded the political participation of the so-called elite. The Quit Kashmir Movement in 1946-7 saw the evolution of Kashmiris into well-informed and articulate protestors, assuming leadership roles in the quest for a Kashmiri nationalistic identity. But attempts to sink the voices of the citizenry in Kashmir into oblivion by some state and non-state actors have become more frequent.