Winter’s Tale

  • Ajaz Rasool
  • Publish Date: Dec 13 2017 8:35PM
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  • Updated Date: Dec 13 2017 8:35PM
Winter’s Tale

The season in Kashmir makes for beautiful screensavers but the ugly truth is that life is particularly difficult here in this season

It is going to be a pretty harsh winter in Kashmir this year; one doesn’t have to be a weatherman to guess as much. For that matter it is not about the weather itself, it is about how prepared or rather how unprepared the place is to face the winter that is going to make it a difficult time. Winter in Kashmir makes for beautiful screensavers but the ugly truth is that life is particularly difficult here in this season. It would provide an ideal setting for one of those reality shows of the ‘Extreme Survival’ type. That the place is barely habitable in winter is an officially recognized fact attested to by the yearly escape of the official machinery to the warmer winter capital. Indeed considering that nothing much has changed in Kashmir since this practice has been in vogue, ‘Darbar Move’ is not a mere symbol but a perk and a privilege, a luxury enjoyed by the ruling elite and by extension their administrative minions. It is a dreary, desolate and desperate existence for the rest of the populace who have to live in conditions which are just a tad better than what the dark ages must have been like.

 Talking of dark ages, winter in Kashmir is indeed characterized by darkness as demand for electricity increases and the supply which is not sufficient even in summer falls way below the requirement. The state government is also caught in this conundrum as on one hand it faces the hostility of the people whom it desperately needs to woo and on the other hand the supply of electricity puts it under a financial burden which is only increasing every year. This is in spite of the unpopular measures regarding the same which are taken from time to time. With its rich water resources one would think that the state possesses enough potential for generation of electricity but it is one of the paradoxes of this region that the potential has not translated into reality. As in other matters, in this matter as well the authorities seem to be lost as to how to tackle this problem that is only increasing every year. There are quixotic attempts at curtailment and prevention of power theft but how successful these have been in addressing the problem is quite evident. No doubt the state has to bear the brunt of considerable pilferage so far as electricity is concerned but at the same time the requirement of energy cannot just be wished away. With other sources of energy becoming scarcer and dearer with every passing day, use and abuse of electricity is the only option left to the common man for sustaining himself.

The Kashmir problem is largely viewed in its political dimension only but the fact is that over the time it has become cross-linked with many other issues including the energy crisis especially when it comes to electricity. In fact people have come out on the streets and there have even been deaths during protests against the power crisis. However successive governments in the state have failed to come up with any solution to this recurrent crisis. In fact the elected representatives have been reduced to being facilitators for increasing the tourist traffic and ensuring provisions and security for the same. The authorities are always parroting the need to attract more tourists to the state as if that were the panacea for all its troubles. Very little, if anything has been achieved on the development front and this is nowhere as evident as in the power sector. Besides the projected potential for power generation the state is already producing power which could suffice for its needs but most of this generated power is exported outside while the state itself faces a crisis. Moreover the power distribution system is outdated and inadequate for the requirement of the state. Electricity is the cleanest and cheapest energy source and providence has provided Kashmir with abundant resources in this regard but they are un-utilized or improperly utilized.

The authorities have been found clueless and helpless with nothing much to show for their perfunctory efforts to resolve the crisis which is one of the major causes of disenchantment of the common man with those at the helm of affairs. If under these circumstances the authorities are seen as a mere restraining force to keep a hapless populace under check rather than being a responsible government that addresses their problems it should hardly come as a surprise. 

Resentment is brewing among the people and as the days will grow colder and the nights longer thereby increasing their miseries, the resentment is also likely to rise proportionately. The resentment may spill over onto the streets and the authorities, having failed to convince their masters, will once again wield the baton to quell the protests of the subjugated multitude under their charge.